The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria has vowed to sanction FrieslandCampina WAMCO, producers of Peak Milk, and other companies for publishing adverts without obtaining approval from the council.
The council said this on Tuesday against the backdrop of a provocative Easter advert by makers of Peak Milk.
ARCON said there would be sanction against companies over “exposure of incendiary and provocative Easter advertisements.”
According to a statement signed by ARCON’s Director-General, Olalekan Fadolapo, and made available to The PUNCH, the council noted with concern, the series of advertisements exposed during the recent Easter celebration by advertisers, media owners (traditional and online) and advertising agencies.
ARCON said advertisements were not only provocative and insensitive, but were also published without approval from the Advertising Standards Panel in accordance with the provisions of Section 53(1] of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria Act No.23 of 2022.
He said a number of advertisements were observed during the Easter celebration by the council to be unpleasant, and demeaning to the Christian faith.
The Council said it would take necessary actions to ensure that the rights, sensitivities and religious beliefs of any sect, or group of people were not disparaged or exploited for commercial gains or otherwise.
The statement read in part, “Advertisers, advertisement agencies and media owners are strongly advised to desist from exposing any form of advertisement without obtaining the prior approval of the Standards Panel. Violators will be sanctioned in accordance with the law.”
Confirming the planned sanctions in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, ARCON DG, Fadolapo said the council’s regulatory team would impose sanctions based on the recommendations of the violated laws.
Fadolapo said, “I need to meet with the Regulations Directorate, definitely there would be sanctions. This is one of the reasons we stopped allowing goodwill messages, because they are taking undue advantage of goodwill messages, and we cannot continue like this as a country. The first thing is that the advert was not vetted. If it was vetted it would not have happened. So, what I’ll do is call the regulatory team, and then we will take action on it.”
The move by the apex regulatory body for advertising in the country to sanction the dairy company and other offenders followed an outcry by the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Christian community in general which described Peak Milk’s Easter advert as “insensitive, offensive, and totally unacceptable.”
However, the company, on Tuesday, issued a public apology to Christians around the country, stating that it was neither intended to make light of the significance of the season nor inordinately exploit the unmatched sacrifice of Jesus Christ.