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Ban On Celeb Adverts: Sammy Awuku Makes A Move

By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo

Mr. Sammy Awuku, the Director-General of the National Lottery Authority (NLA) says it is seeking counsel from the Attorney-General on the possibility of allowing betting companies to use celebrities as brand ambassadors.

Speaking to Roselyn Felli on Joy Prime, he explained that the Authority, as a regulatory body, could legally authorise betting companies to use celebrities for advertisements.

This comes on the heels of the revived conversation on the ban of celebrities endorsing betting companies in Ghana after Nigeria’s music star, Mr. Eazi and his betting company, betpawa became the title sponsor of Ghana’s Premier League.

According to him, he watches all these foreign content and witnesses all these international celebrities endorse betting and lottery companies and projects and is befuddled as to how their Ghanaian counterparts are being restricted in that same regard.

Big Step

Nothing tangible has happened on the review of the guidelines that bar celebrities from endorsing betting companies but the intent and resolve of the NLA head is such a big leap. It all starts with an intent and the intention of Sammy Awuku to seek counsel and have some form of deliberation on the matter is good news.

Unlike the Food & Drugs Authority and the Gaming Commission of Ghana, the National Lottery Authority, which has oversight over lottery in Ghana, has no directive that bans celebrities from endorsing lottery-related activities.

Some months ago, the NLA actually called on the celebrities to help with measures employed by the firm to deal with lotto fraudsters and most importantly, to help with the elevation of the Authority’s reputation.

The NLA obviously has a lot of regard for these entertainers and has faith in the clout and influence of these celebrities. It believes the influence of these celebrities can help them combat a challenge that has become difficult to solve.

The organization also has such respect for celebrities to the point where it believes celebrities can help with projecting a positive image for the firm. Instead of banning celebrities from engaging in lotto-related activities, the Authority is rather collaborating with celebrities to help with the delivery of some of its mandates. Most importantly, the NLA is fulfilling one crucial need for these celebrities – endorsement deals.

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 is a no-brainer that without any form of regulation, there is 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 is 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 Make Moves Too

Sammy Awuku has made his intentions clear, willing to make a move to address this issue, yet most of these celebrities, who are directly affected by the ban, are still mute and cavalier.

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 directives from both the FDA and the Commission are presently not affecting them. 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. Humans made rules and when deemed unfavorable, they can be altered by the same humans.  They must rise, unite and speak up now!

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