APCON Gives Unlicensed Advertising Agencies Ultimatum to Comply

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Raheem Akingbolu

Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) has resolved to take on advertising agencies that are operating in Nigeria but are not licensed. The council has therefore issued a warning that agencies that are not re-licensed by Tuesday, next week will face the music.

APCON which is yet to have a board after three years due to the delay by the Presidency, also warned that advertisers who patronise and engage un-licensed agencies for business are working against the law and will be prosecuted. To avoid confusion on licensed or un-licensed firms, the Council through its Ag Registrar/CEO Ijedi Iyoha promised to make the list public. She also assured that the council will inform Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, ADVAN and other relevant stakeholders on its resolve to prosecute un-licensed agencies after May 1, 2018.

“The question is for how long we will keep condoning those that are not willing to be licensed. We met as a committee and we agreed that come May 1, 2018, we will come up with publication of those that have been licensed and those that are yet to be licensed.

“We are saying that it is now illegal for advertisers to engage agencies that are not registered with APCON for any advertising business. We expect them to make use of those that are duly and legally registered with APCON. The advertisers will be sanctioned if we find them wanting because it will be illegal business”, Iyoha said. Iyoha stepped in as Ag Registrar early this year following the retirement of former Registrar/CEO, Bello Kankaroffi.

She encouraged all the agencies to come to APCON and check their corporate status for membership. According to her, the aim of re-licensing is to sanitise the industry going forward.

On his part, the Chairman of Corporate Licensing Committee, Lekan Fadalapo, who is also the Executive Director/CEO, Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) said the committee has inspected about 200 agencies which is about 80 percent of all the agencies in the creative, media specialists and out of home business since April last year towards sensitising them on the need for re-licencing. So far, some have complied, he said.

He explained that the licensing is in two categories. There is Window A for agencies who are members of recognised sectoral group and Window B for those who are not members of any sectoral group.

Lekan, who expressed regret that the business of advertising has suffered unethical practices, said there is need for sanity in the industry, pointing out that the council has shifted the goal post for the implementation of this reform up to three times.
“It was initially scheduled for October last year, but stakeholders appealed to APCON to give them three months. In December, we had another meeting and they requested for another three months to regularise their registration”, he said.

He said if the reform of 2013, including the re-licensing is properly implemented, it has the potential to create over 200,000 jobs for Nigeria in the next one year.