By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
The entertainment industry has been subjected to another Shatta Wale rant and as unfortunate as it is, we need to deal with some of the things he raised and put them under scrutiny. In scrutinizing some of the things said by the artiste, the realization is that some of the issues raised do not hold water.
In the tirade, Shatta Wale chided the National Lottery Authority (NLA) for engaging some entertainers to help in elevating some of the company’s functions while there’s a ban on advertisement of betting-related activities by celebrities.
Shatta Wale was part of a collection of Ghanaian celebrities including Nadia Buari, Yvonne Okoro, John Dumelo, Sandra Ankobiah, Efya, KiDi, Kuami Eugene, Zynnell Zuh, Serwaa Amihere, Sister Derby, DKB, Selly Galley, Moesha Buduong, Salma Mumin, Gloria Sarfo, Eno Barony, Beverly Afaglo, Kwaw Kesse and others who were signed as brand ambassadors for various betting companies in May 2020.
A few months later, the Gaming Commission of Ghana issued a directive banning celebrities from endorsing betting companies and betting-related activities. That directive that prevents celebrities from generating revenue from betting companies came from the Ghana Gaming Commission and not the National Lottery Authority.
If Shatta Wale is aggrieved about the dictate, he must channel that frustration to the doorstep of that entity that issued that directive. If Shatta Wale is livid about the directive that bars celebrities from endorsing alcoholic beverages, he must tackle the Food & Drugs Authority (FDA) and not the NLA.
The scathing attack on other entertainers for attending a meeting with the NLA was classless and needless.
How do you scold other entertainers for attending a meeting with a firm that has/had nothing to do with directives to ban celebrities from endorsing betting-related activities and alcoholic beverages?
How do you reprimand other entertainers for taking advantage of their celebrity to engage corporate firms and exercise that privilege of penning endorsement deals?
The argument that the entertainers that had the engagement with NLA should have made noise about the ban or rejected the meeting does not make sense.
How do you make a plea or protest to a CEO or board of a firm that has no jurisdiction over the functions of another entity? How do you tell the head of the NLA to go and query the heads of FDA and Gaming Commission respectively for their decision to ban celebrities?
Ban on celebrities
In 2015, the FDA, deriving its powers from the Public Health Act of 2012 (Act 251) and in adherence to a World Health Organization (WHO) policy – banned celebrities from endorsing alcoholic beverages. In fact, after some noise from some celebrities over the ban, the FDA tasked the complainants to go to court if they had reservations with the directive. No entertainer has mustered the courage to pursue that yet.
In 2020, the Gaming Commission of Ghana, drawing its supervisory mandate from Section 3 (2) (g) of the Gaming Act 2006 (Act 721) – banned celebrities from endorsing betting companies and betting-related activities.
Again, the announcement was greeted with grumbling by industry stakeholders but none of these entertainers thought of pursuing the matter in court.
NLA doing right
The National Lottery Authority has oversight over lottery in Ghana and has no directive that bans celebrities from endorsing lottery-related activities.
The Authority 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 also 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 partnering 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.
Support good initiatives
The call, over the period, has been for Corporate Ghana to support the arts, partner the arts and contract entertainers as influencers and ambassadors for their varied projects.
The NLA clearly recognizes the reach and power of celebrities, has a grasp on endorsement deals and is willing to engage these entertainers to spearhead its various projects.
What the NLA needs, especially from the creative industry is commendation and the encouragement to do more.
The level of appreciation the industry shows to such laudable initiatives can only woo other corporate firms to replicate, thereby providing revenue for celebrities in the name of endorsement deals.