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BAN ON ADVERTS: Celebrities Must Unite, Rise & Speak Up!

By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo

Being a Ghanaian celebrity or entertainer now could be depressing and frustrating. In fact, it has been such a dismal situation for these guys, who are losing out on revenue over confounding reasons.

The Gaming Commission of Ghana has issued guidelines that bar celebrities from endorsing or advertising Betting Companies in the country – and this comes just months after another essential regulatory body, the Food & Drugs Authority (FDA) prohibited celebrities from endorsing alcoholic beverages.

The recent directive from the Commission has brought the chatter of celebrity endorsement in Ghana to the fore and how appropriate or otherwise on how such a venture is being scrutinized.

Celebrities in a Fix

In a ramshackle creative industry like that pertaining in Ghana, endorsement deals have become the most viable revenue-generating point for entertainers on all divides of the industry – from music, movies to comedy.

In an era where COVID-19 has ravaged the entertainment space, celebrity endorsement has become the ultimate saving grace and taking that privilege from them at this crucial stage could be devastating.

The fact must also be made that, in close to a decade, alcoholic beverage companies and in recent times, Betting Companies have become the biggest supporters of the creative industry.  Killing whatever relationship they have with the creative industry and its stakeholders is synonymous to cutting off the umbilical cord of a developing baby during pregnancy.

Celebrity Endorsement Is Key

In a grand scheme of progression for both corporate firms and celebrities, the enterprise of celebrity advertisement has always been a critical factor. A symbiotic relationship that caters to both entities.

Using a celebrity to represent a brand helps to differentiate that brand from its competitors. It also can improve advert recall, making consumers remember the advert and that, the brand is connected to their favorite celebrity.

Celebrities in advertising build brand awareness, and they build it much more quickly than traditional types of advertising. Brand awareness measures the percentage of people who are familiar with a particular brand. Choosing the right celebrity can also open up brands to new markets.

The use of a celebrity in an advertisement may also help to breathe life into a failing brand and the affinity consumers have for certain celebrities can greatly influence their purchases.

Regulation Is Important

It’s a no-brainer that without any form of regulation, there’s bound to be anarchy and lawlessness.

Regulations are indispensable to the proper functioning of economies and societies.  They underpin markets, protect the rights and safety of citizens and ensure the delivery of public goods and services.

Regulatory authorities are commonly set up to enforce safety and standards, and/or to protect consumers in markets where there is a lack of effective competition or the potential for the undue exercise of market power. They are typically a part of the executive branch of the government and have statutory authority to perform their functions with oversight from the legislative branch. Their actions are generally open to legal review.

Regulatory agencies deal in the areas of administrative law, regulatory law, secondary legislation, and rule-making.

The Gaming Commission has the succour of the law, established by the Gaming Act 2006, Act 721 with the main purpose of Regulating, Controlling, Monitoring and Supervising the operations of Games of Chance in the country.

Confusion in Guidelines

Just like the FDA, the guidelines for the Gaming Commission is fraught with discrepancies.

It is confounding to note that, the Commission has so many provisions in the guidelines that should be abhorrent to children under age 18 to get attracted to betting, yet, it has an issue with Celebrities fronting for this companies.

Some of the provisions are;

The Commission in protecting the interests of punters, customers and stakeholders, mandates that advertisements must contain warnings like “Gamble Responsibly”, “Only 18 Years+”, “Gambling is Addictive” etc. and any other warnings that may be prescribed by the Commission.

Advertisement shall not appeal either directly or indirectly, to persons under the legal gaming age of 18 years, or be placed in any media that is targeted specifically at such persons.

Gaming advertisements shall not run during the airing of movies or programmes with the following ratings: Family (F), Parental Guidance 16 (PG 16) and Adult Accompaniment (AA).

No gaming advertisements shall be allowed at a public function where persons under the legal gaming age are likely to attend.

Is it not intriguing to note that; with all of these precautions in place, what’s the relevance in prohibiting these celebrities from featuring in betting advertisement?

If the Commission have the strongest conviction in the above provisions and more, they would not fret over celebrities advertising the Companies under the same rules.

These Celebrities Must Speak Up

Thus far, the only celebrities openly agitating over the directive is Wendy Shay, Efya and Shatta Wale. Wendy even made a call to take the Commission to court and has entreated her fellow celebrities to put their differences aside and speak up.

She is right!

These celebrities are ‘sleeping’, oblivious of the clout and influence they wield to make changes in norms. They fail miserably to appreciate the kind of following they command to be able to effect changes.

Most of them are quiet because they are presently not being affected by directives from both the FDA and the Commission. They will be caught by surprise when similar unfavorable rules are applied to whatever brand(s) they are endorsing now.

The earlier these celebrities realize that these directives are inimical to their business, livelihood and well-being, the better for them and their sustenance as business people.

They must unite, speak with one voice and offer a genuine protestation over such directives. Rules were made by humans and when deemed unfavorable, they can be altered by the same humans.  They must rise, unite and speak up now!

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