Chairman of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Lolu Akinwunmi and other senior practitioners within the marketing communications industry have cautioned the Nigerian media on the need to verify and authenticate sources of press statements.
This, he said, is so as not to give credibility to “ghost” attention-seekers that hide behind pseudo names to court public opinion.
They spoke against the backdrop of a recent publication credited to a non-governmental organisation, Network for Responsible Communication, which called for the resignation of Akinwunmi from the board of APCON. This followed a dispute between his firm, Prima Garnet, and telecom company, Airtel on the one hand, and a Kenyan advertising agency- Scanad owned by another Indian, Bharat Thakrar, on the other.
Akinwunmi wondered how an organisation that does not exist could ever claim to be working towards “responsible communication.
“Ordinarily, I should not have responded to this because every right thinking Nigerian who read that story should know it was designed to deceive Nigerians into thinking that I am exploiting my position as APCON Chairman for purposes that are self-serving. This is not so, and I believe time will vindicate us. When we read this report, we conducted a thorough due diligence search on the source and found that there was no organization called Network for Responsible Communication anywhere, and wondered why and how such a story could find its way into the pages of Nigerian newspapers without an authentication of its origin.
“Those who read this story will understand that the writer was all out to attack APCON and denigrate the entire marketing communications industry. This, I think, is not right. The fact that my company has some issues with some of our former partners in court should not give anyone the license to insult the entire advertising industry. How can anyone who claims to be a network for Responsible Communication make such irresponsible blanket statements?”
While the chief regulator of advertising practice in Nigeria refused to say more, an industry source also punched holes in the claim contained in the publication that suggested that most Nigerian clients, particularly Nigerian Breweries and the banks had shipped their marketing communication jobs abroad, because of lack of local capacity. She said it was outright fabrication, which exposed the writer’s ignorance of the industry.
“As I speak with you, First Bank, Nigeria’s biggest and oldest bank works with Nigerian agencies; Diamond Bank is being managed by an indigenous agency. The same goes for Guaranty Trust Bank, Fidelity Bank and many others. Of all the banks, are these ones I mentioned not the most attractive in terms of look and feel? The fact that a few of them have in-house communications departments is a matter of strategy and choice and not in any way a testimonial on the competence of advertising agencies in
Nigeria.” She also added that for as long as anyone would remember, NB has proudly supported the Nigerian advertising industry by working with notable Nigerian agencies like Lintas, and Insight, among others.
A senior foreign marketing practitioner who did not want to be identified corroborated this claim, stressing that “even the foreign multinational telecoms companies’ work with Nigerian agencies. MTN works with DDB, Etisalat works with 141 as well. The only exception is Airtel which shares its business with Prima Garnet and its Kenyan Ogilvy agency managed by Bharat Thakrar”.