Product Sampling, Children and Brand Ambassadorship Gets ‘Through-the-Line’ Attention

By Eunice Nze-Peters

Through-the-line practitioners in Nigeria, otherwise referred to as  experiential marketing association of Nigeria (EXMAN), has vowed to deal decisively with members found violating the laid down rules as contained in its newly-launched code of conduct.

The association decided to embark on self-regulation to enable it protect the industry from the activities of quacks, while at the same time enabling members of the association operate professionally.

This has become necessary as it has become a source of worry to many, especially practitioners, how the uncontrolled deployment of young men and women in road shows constituted nuisance in many event venues. More worrying is the use of half nude ladies and school children in these performances and dances. It has become a usual scene for children to be in the thick of the crowd dancing to the admiration of onlookers.

Steps have been taken to integrate the body with other groups under the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) in order to address issues such as product sampling, children and brand ambassadorship, an aspect that needs to be governed by rules, and companies are expected to abide by this when activating their brands.

Recently, the group has released a statement that it is standing against all anti-practice conduct by clients and every other group practicing experiential marketing illegally.

Before now, EXMAN had sent the code to all members during the association’s first annual general meeting (AGM) to enhance a robust discussion on its code of practice. The body believes that by discussing some sections of the code at the AGM, members who ordinarily wouldn’t have time to read would have done so consciously or unconsciously.

Experiential marketing has been so abused in the Nigerian context such that it is seen as going on a road show or on a dancing spree. In this day and age, the use of music, actors and dancers are merely attention grabbing gimmicks. Kayode Olagesin, Chief Executive Officer of Towncriers, an experiential marketing agency says experiential marketing is about getting the consumer to interact with a brand, allowing the brand to come alive for them.

“It is more than simply event marketing or road show, although it can often be confused with both. Rather, it is a way to engage consumers with the product, allowing them to ‘experience’ the product, utilising as many senses as possible” He said.

In the UK, most non-broadcast marketing communications are governed by The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the CAP Code), written and revised by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and independently administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

These codes stipulate that “before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation”, and that “no marketing communication should mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise”.

However, there are certain elements of the marketing mix where the CAP Code does not apply, or where it may apply to some parts of a campaign but not others. One area where this has become particularly apparent is experiential marketing.

There is also a widespread violation of certain code of practice in the area of abuse of activation locations. “On locations in terms of where we do our activities, there are so many breaches at the moment. In his statement, Olagesin affirmed that the issue of abuse has been a source of concern to many practitioners and the response to that challenge; he said was the formation of the Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria, EXMAN.

“Practitioners are doing sampling and all sorts of engagement in outlets they shouldn’t have. But it is our duty through the code to educate and enlighten them on how to go about it,” he affirmed.

The Code of Conduct, which addresses the peculiarities of the industry, had become imperative for members to enable them offer greater value to clients.


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