Rising from its recent sitting, the Advertising Standards Panel, the vetting arm of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), has advised telecoms company, Airtel, to wait for the outcome of the case it has in court with Prima Garnet, instead of bringing the same case to APCON.
It has also informed the telecoms company that it cannot adjudicate in the matter or vet the materials presented on its behalf by the Advertising Standards Panel because of the court order to maintain the status quo in its matter with Prima Garnet.
ASP was said to have reached this conclusion against the backdrop of media reports, which suggested that APCON had selectively refused to vet Airtel adverts submitted by STB McCann on account of Prima Garnet’s trade dispute with Airtel.
A source that was part of the forum, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said because Airtel and STB-McCann were yet to be formally communicated by the ASP, a letter was being dispatched to Airtel and the agency.
The source further drew attention to the fact that there are separate court cases between PrimaGarnet and Scanad Nigeria and from these cases specific injunctions restricting Airtel from hiring an agency until the matter is fully determined, and Scanad from operating in the country; following queries around its relationship with Prima Garnet’s partners, Ogilvy Africa.
The same injunction that binds Scanad also binds Ogilvy from terminating its relationship with Prima Garnet, the source continued, adding that as far as the court is concerned, Prima Garnet is still the Ogilvy agency in Nigeria.
“Everyone knows APCON is a law abiding institution and cannot under any circumstance be seen to be going against rulings of courts of competent jurisdiction. As a component part of APCON, the ASP is also aware of the dispute between Prima Garnet and Airtel as well as Ogilvy/Scanad. It will therefore be irresponsible of a Council of APCON’s nature which has the responsibility to regulate advertising in the country to be cajoled or arm-twisted into violating the sacredness of the Nigerian judicial system,” the source said.
He added that if APCON has obeyed a court order that stops it from vetting any material from Scanad, why should it now disobey another injunction from the same court that all parties maintain the status quo?
“We have papers that show that the court specifically explained to all parties the meaning of the status quo during its ruling on March 15 in the case involving Airtel. So why is Airtel being diffident? Is the company saying it is bigger than Nigerian courts?”
The same source also said it was shameful that rather than obeying court orders, Scanad and Airtel were busy writing frivolous petitions all over the place. “It’s a shame really that these two foreign companies don’t have any respect for the Nigerian legal system,” the source further added.