Industry News

ADVAN’s withdrawal from the Heads of Advertising Sectorial Group

Credit: Brand Communicator

Analysis

By Tunji Faleye

The withdrawal of The Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) from the Heads of Advertising Sectorial Group (HASG) has shown clearly that the ‘cold war’ in advertising industry is yet to be over. Instead, it continues to expand in a proportion not favourable to the advertising industry.

On Tuesday, the news of ADVAN’s withdrawing its membership from the HASG hit the industry like a tornado. According to ADVAN, this significant move came after extensive discussions and careful consideration by the ADVAN Executive Council and its members. The decision, articulated in a letter to HASG Chairman Dr. Olufemi Adelusi, marks a turning point in the relationship between ADVAN on one side, and the other industry bodies, occasioned by the introduction of Advertising Industry Standard of Practice (AISOP) and other regulations by Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON).

For ADVAN, the reasons for withdrawal were highlighted in a letter written to Dr. Adelusi which outlines several key reasons for its withdrawal, especially a perceived shift in HASG’s activities away from its stated objectives. These objectives include promoting investment in advertising services, fostering trust within the advertising sector, nurturing relationships among advertising sectorial associations, and engaging in regulatory discussions affecting Nigerian advertising practices.

Despite ADVAN’s repeated attempts at engagement, the association feels its contributions have been overlooked. ADVAN emphasizes that transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness are critical for successful joint committees—attributes it finds lacking in HASG’s recent activities. However, staying in that group and find a lasting solution together to the crisis AISOP brought, and all other attendant challenges especially now that the case ADVAN instituted against ARCON is still in court would have been the best thing to do.

ADVAN’S specific concerns and examples

The letter explicitly mentions the Audience Measurement system launched by ARCON and the Ministry of Information. ADVAN criticizes the process, noting a lack of communication and transparency. They were initially briefed by the late Tolu Ogunkoya, who promised a transparent process, but subsequently, the committee’s online group remained silent until the system’s launch, with ADVAN being informed post-factum about its supposed involvement.

A similar issue occurred with the AISOP committee, where ADVAN’s proposals were ignored. This pattern of selective inclusion and predetermined outcomes has led ADVAN to conclude that it cannot, in good faith, continue participating in committees that display evident biases. ADVAN maintains its mandate to advocate for value-based and inclusive policies for the industry.

Despite its withdrawal, ADVAN reaffirms its commitment to participating in all statutory committees and to fostering a thriving marketing industry. The association remains open to transparent conversations and programmes that align with its objectives. ADVAN also signals its willingness to reconsider its decision, contingent upon assurances that principles of accountability, trust, and transparency will be upheld in all dealings.

Sadly, ADVAN’s withdrawal from HASG raises critical questions about the governance and operational transparency within the group and possibly other industry committees. This move, if not addressed could potentially lead to a reevaluation of practices within these committees to ensure that all members feel included and their contributions valued. It also underscores the importance of transparent communication and decision-making processes in maintaining trust and collaboration within the group and the advertising sector.

No doubt, the departure of ADVAN from HASG represents a weighty moment for the Nigerian advertising industry. It therefore calls for a renewed focus on inclusiveness and transparency to ensure that industry bodies effectively serve their members’ interests and promote a cohesive, thriving advertising environment.

It’s also imperative that both ADVAN and the rest in HASG come to the table and genuinely discuss how to settle the crisis, and move the advertising industry forward. Also, respected practitioners in the advertising industry need to swing into action and reduce tension for the good of the industry.

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