‘ARCON’s ₦‎100K vetting will make influencers extra cautious’- Anthony Eigbe Creative Director X3M Ideas

Dennis Da-ala Mirilla
X3M Ideas' Creative Director, Anthony Eigbe sees the positive sides of ARCON's new ₦‎100K vetting policy
X3M Ideas’ Creative Director, Anthony Eigbe

In December, the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) said that it had received a high number of complaints about unethical and unverified sponsored content that has been posted on social media by influencers and content creators alike. It added that the adverts by “these groups” are “unethical” and at times have been a “source of misinformation.”

To curb the complaint, ARCON said sponsored content on social media must be vetted and get “pre-exposure approval” in accordance with the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practise and the ARCON Act No. 23 of 2022.

What it didn’t say at the time was that the vetting will be paid for. But last week, the council release a statement that the vetting will cost between  ₦‎7,500 to  ₦‎100,000.

“Normal vetting for any social media ad will cost ₦‎7,500, and this will take 7 days. To accelerate the process and get the approval in 2 days, that will cost ₦‎70,000, while those who want their adverts to be vetted within one day will pay ₦‎100,000.”


While debates around the process with which the agency will regulate and make sure the content is vetted, or even if the vetting should be paid for, is still ongoing, Anthony Eigbe, the creative director of X3M Ideas, a top advertising agency in Africa, says there might be some positives with this policy in solving the problems of misinformation on the internet. However, he’s not sure it will be because ARCON is now vetting all sponsored content per see.

Nigerians react to ARCON ordering skit makers, influencers, bloggers, to seek approval for all adverts

On the impact of the policy…

“I think it’ll create an extra layer of caution going forward,” Anthony Eigbe told Technext recently. “I suspect ARCON might not have the full capacity to monitor and check compliance for every brand, big or small, out there. But what this law does is first instil a self-regulation mindset because, even if you do not seek ARCON approval at first, you do not want to also put out materials that are risky enough to get public backlash and get retrospective punishment from ARCON,” he said.

But even then, Anthony Eigbe worries about the effect of the policy on the creativity of the brands looking to sell their products through influencers and other forms of digital marketing.

“The Punishment Avoidance Effect it creates might be a good thing but there’s also a question about how strict regulation forces brands to be less creative,”

Anthony Eigbe

Eigbe also sees some positives in the vetting cost. He says that it will compel brands to plan their strategy better or have to pay more for the expedited vetting offering.

Read also: Nigerians react to ARCON ordering skit makers, influencers, bloggers, to seek approval for ads

“If you examine what’s between these two disparate costs [₦‎7,000 to ₦‎100,000], you will find planning. Brands now have to get back into proper brand planning of timeliness. If you submit your work to ARCON way ahead of time, you pay a small cost. You skip and give ARCON last-minute work to approve, you pay heavier,” he said.

Small business concerns

But even then, Anthony Eigbe sees how that could affect small businesses working with a tighter budget. “I still understand the concerns, especially for small businesses. There are still grey lines to address but time might resolve some of these issues,” he added.

For Eigbe who works in the advertising industry, he has begun to adapt to the fact that this will be the new normal and is already helping brands prepare for this vetting process. He hopes that the process however doesn’t turn into a dystopian creativity oversight by ARCON.

“A level of autonomy in communications also has to be given to brands so ARCON doesn’t get overworked or overburdened,” he said.

But he adds that he sees why ARCON has taken this stance.

“We’ve had a few issues of brands getting publicly condemned for communications and I believe this was what expedited ARCON’s move. Agencies also have a big role to play in helping clients plan and soft-landing them into this policy in such a way they do not feel the shock,” he said.

Of late he says that ARCON “has been inclusive and engaging” stakeholders and agencies like X3M Ideas on its policies and that this could represent a real opportunity for ARCON to bolster public trust in commercial communications.

Anthony Eigbe, X3M Ideas' Creative Director
X3M Ideas’ Creative Director, Anthony Eigbe

The way forward

Where does the advertising world go from here? Anthony believes that what ARCON has put down as its policy is the law of the land. While there are avenues to challenge policies the industry might see as unfavourable, he however suspects everyone is still in a watch-and-see mode, trying to figure out what to make with this new policy and see the extent of its implementation.

“I think time will be the best judge for this policy. Time will reveal if ARCON has the capacity. Time will tell if it’s sustainable for small brands. Time will tell if it’s the right way to go,” he said.

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