Having operated as Advertising Practitioner Council of Nigeria, (APCON) for over 34 years, the apex advertising regulatory body in Nigeria has metamorphosed to   Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON).  APCON was established by the Advertising Practitioners Act No. 55 of 1988, as amended by Act No. 93 of 1992 and Act No. 116 of 1993 (now Advertising Practitioners Registration Act Cap A7 of 2004).

The adoption of a broad national mass communication policy by the National Council of Ministers in January 1988 was a milestone in the establishment of APCON. The various discussions that followed the adoption of the national mass communication policy articulated the relevance and the leadership role of advertising to the nation’s social, political and economic development, as well as, the need for official recognition and regulation of the practice.

After 34 years, the apex advertising regulator has finally dropped the toga of APCON and adopted Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), to operate at the level of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), and Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) among others.

Advertising in Nigeria is regulated by a combination of federal laws, including state laws, subsidiary legislation and guidelines.

In recent times, Nigeria’s advertising landscape has experienced quite a number of changes, in fact, since Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo was appointed the Registrar/CE of APCON, the apex regulatory advertising body had undergone several ‘surgical’ operations. Some of the developments include Advertising Industry Standard Operation Practice (AISOP), which has generated so much controversies involving Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN).

Another is the introduction of guidelines to regulate online and social media advertising, which is the first of its kind in the annals of advertising regulation in Nigeria. APCON under Dr. Fadolapo’s watch is the first, to step on toes of top multinationals for infractions. Glo and Sterling Bank have been openly named and shamed by the apex regulatory body, this year, for allegedly contravening the advertising law. 

 Recently, Dr. Fadolapo had hinted that the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) bill was before the National Assembly. He specifically mentioned that the name change was imperative to the realization of his vision to reposition the advertising industry in Nigeria for growth.

In late July 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the ARCON bill into law, which seeks to allow the advertising regulatory agency to operate as the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) in line with its mandate of regulating the advertising industry in Nigeria.

The assented bill, which repeals the Advertising Practitioners’ Act, recognises ARCON as the apex authority for the Nigerian advertising industry. By this recognition, it is the statutory responsibility of ARCON to make provision for the regulation and control of advertising in all its ramifications and create the Advertising Offences Tribunal among other powers. The new law also gives the federal government the rights and privileges to appoint anyone practitioner or non-practitioner to the post of chairman and/or chief executive officer where the office of registrar would no longer be in existence.

The approved ARCON bill, therefore, becomes a final imperative call for advertisers and agency practitioners to be aware of the potential legal ramifications of their advertising practice and initiatives, especially, with respect to regulated products, in order to obviate legal exposure and liability. Such need becomes even more compelling where the audience of the advertisement is, courtesy of technology and online platforms, which are running riot at the moment.

ARCON will continue to cooperate with sectorial associations- BON, AAAN, EXMAN, MIPAN, and OAAN in regulating the conduct of their member organisation to ensure a socially responsible practice.

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