- BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Advertising as a concept, can be defined as a form of communication through the media about product, services, ideas, personalities or organizations, paid for by an identified sponsor writer Alide in Okunna (2002: 99).
Bovee and Arens (1985) gave a more widely accepted definition of advertising as the non-personal communication of information, usually paid for any usually persuasive in nature about products (goods and services) or ideas by an identified sponsor through various media. It is an exciting, dynamic, and challenging enterprise. Its often a persuasive communication in that it tries to persuade the reader, the listener or the viewer to take to the sponsor’s own point of view and also to take some appropriate action. It is not personal or face to face communication, rather it is directed to a group of people.
Advertising is also controlled, identifiable information and persuasion by means of mass communication media. Defined by Wrignt and Zeight (1982:10).
Gillran Dyer says that in its simplest sense, the word “advertising” means drawing attention to something or notifying or informing somebody of something.
According to the understanding of Advertising practitioners council of Nigeria (APCON) “advertising is a form of communication through the media about products, services or ideas, paid for by an identified sponsor”.
The terms advertising was coined from the Latin word “advertere” which mean literally means to draw attention. This is when you are getting the evidence mind in a product, notifying or informing somebody/people of something. There is no doubt that advertising has brought prosperity to different countries of the world through different means. It has helped in speeding up the introduction of new inventions and has most importantly widened markets for mass-produced goods and services. Consumers of industrial goods and service and all over the world today enjoy the choice of a wide variety of such goods and services.
Advertising has also been of immense benefit humanity and has contributed in no small measure rapid industrialization and expansion processes all over the world. Infact, advertising has contributed in making the world a better place to live in.
Tracing the history of advertising however, it is evident that its practice is as old as man. Weppner (1979) in Okunna (2002: 85) reveals that advertising seems is be part of human nature evidenced since ancient times.
Groom in his own view stated that “advertising” was first century AD and has been employed ever since in one form or another”. It has no specific date, any way, but Groom further maintains it as an instrument of marketing in the past 4000 B.C.E. Highlighting its existence in a Nigeria advertising has been part of commercial activities even before the arrival of whitemen remarks Abayomi in Okunna (2002: 86) Quoting Ogbodo (1990), Abayomi in Okunna pointed out the common practices in our locality like town criers do, hawking and display of available waves were the earliest method of advertising in Nigeria. This is still obtainable in the free-market these days as sellers cry above their voices to draw the attention of buyers to their waves.
The introduction of modern advertising in Nigeria was made possible in 1859 by a newspaper called “Iwe Irohin”. It was owned by an English Reverend gentleman known as Henry Townsend. It was an eight page newspaper with four pages English version and four pages “Yoruba” version. This newspaper attracted a lot of readership, this creating space for advertisement on births, weddings and obituaries, vacances for houseboys and maids, church activities, ship schedules and other social events.
Abayomi in Okunna (2002: 86) records that other newspaper such as the logos observer, the Eagle, the Lagos critic and others joined the music. The business of advertising enjoyed a great boast in the 1920s as notable companies such as Releigh Bicycle, PZ, lever Brothers, Cadbury, Ovaltine and others sprang up to patronize the services of West African Publicity (WAP) who provided advertising services like radio and television there was a considerable advancement in Radio/TV advertisement for over four decades. This began with the establishment of Western Nigeria Broadcasting Services (WNBS) and Western Nigeria Television (WNTN) by the defunct Western Religion, Okunna.
At this point, it is pertinent to note that the practice of advertising in Nigeria has been legalized. The legalized was masterminded by APCON which was established by Decree 55 of 1988 amended by Decree 93 of 1992.
The APCON, as produced by the code of advertising practice is charged with the responsibility of among other things.
a). Determining who are advertisers
b). Conducting examinations in the profession and,
c). Regulating and controlling advertising in all this aspects and ramifications.
The strict adherence to the provisions of this, code has really made advertising an interest oriented, fascinating and fantastic professions.
In recent years, the practice of advertising no longer enjoy its good essence. Following the introduction of fraudulent and unethical practice in the business of advertising the profession is fast loosing credibility and interest.
The code of Advertising practice catalogued the essence of good advertising as outlined below. The codes provides that all advertisement in Nigeria should;
a). Be legal, decent, honest, truthful and respectful of Nigeria’s culture.
b). Be prepared with a high sense of social responsibility and should not show disregard for the interest of consumers and the wider Nigeria society.
c). Conform to the principles of fair competition generally accepted in business and fair comment expected in human communication.
d). Enhance public confidence in advertising.
Unfortunately advertisers have chosen the unethical means of practicing this profession, neglected the good sense of advertising which revolves around social responsibility.
In his words, Osunbiyi (1999:27) “advertising on the whole can be rumours, ie it can be deceptive and misleading. It can manipulate the “vulnerable psyche”.
No doubt, advertising can be ruinous when some illegal advertisers make claims that are untruce about a product of services.
As the consumers of such product testifies that the claims surrounding the product are not time, he automatically stops patronage.
Osunbiyi (1999:31) reiterates that deception perhaps, is the worse criticism of advertising in that it is assumed that information given is just to deceive the public. Categorically, we can view the effect of unethical practice of advertising from many angels.
Fort the most part, same advertisement are deception oriented for instance, most naturalistic hospital, both registered and unregistered, go on air or magazine pages to advertise their products. They make false claims that they cure a lot of ailments, when in actual sense, they may only cure, say bellyache. People rush to by the drug or concoction and eventually worsen their earlier situation. Close examples are two naturalistic hospitals, 8 Jemeni Street and Dr. J.J. Ogadinma Naturalistic Hospital along Ogaja Road, Abakaliki.
A more chronic effects of unethical practice of advertising is ‘passing off’,
Passing off is a situation where a producer of a given product imitates, in a very close identify, the name, colour graphic design, size and shape of a product of that with a mark of quality, in order to enjoy plenty safes under the umbrella of the original product.
It is a also a form of fraud in which a company tries to sell its own product by deceiving buyers into thinking it is another product.
It is also making some false representation likely to induce a person to believe that the goods or service are those of another. Passing off-to misrepresent that one’s business is that of, or connected with another, in a way likely to cause damage. The implication of this ugly act is that is attracts loss of loyalty and patronage to the ‘main’ product. Hence, it affects the economic viability of such company and their product.
This is obtainable in almost all products in the market such ones are TURA medicated soap which has another imitation product called TULA. Most people, especially the less lettered, who had been enlightened about tura soap quickly buy the ‘TULA’ with the mind frame that is the same thing as the original one.
A product like Philip electric iron is not exempted in the passing off. It has imitators like Philip and Dhilip in radio. Other electronic gadgets like SONY products are plagued by such ones like sunny, sonic, sony-multi, sony prestige etc. In BYG products we now have GYC, BIC, VIC, BYG, all sounding almost the same, with the same design not qualitative, thus attracting bad name to the product. Talk of Bournvita food drink, Bomvita, Bovita, Bonveta etc have filled the market, making it difficult for customers to identify the real one.
In fact, the list is in exhaustible. Over the years, vitafoam has been noted as a long lasting, soft and qualify mattress. It has been enjoying good name, hence its sustain ability in the market vitafoam is not left out in the “Passing off problem and its effects.
In this work, the researcher has chosen VITAFOAM product of VITAFOAM NIGERIA PLC, Aba, for a case study.