"9jaupdates presents to our awesome readers an exciting new column called "Phenomenal Motterfly" by the amazing Mofe .Providing you more insight into the world of media/entertainment law among other wide range of topics. Enjoy guys!"

I remember in one of my classes on consumer protection, there was a very interesting topic on consumer giveaways.Consumer giveaways are a form of advertising that companies have used for decades.  Like the name suggests, it entails giving away prizes to consumers.It increases brand excitement and it’s also a way to collect information on current and potential customers. People like me still wonder why companies like Coca-Cola have to advertise or do any form of sales promotion. I mean its coke, the most popular drink in the world; you’d expect an established brand does not require advertising since they have no competition. Advertising is not about your competition; it’s about maintaining a pervasive brand presence and maintaining it. It also helps to keep your product relevant in every generation. If Coca-Cola stopped advertising in the 30’s we probably wouldn’t know what it is right now. So advertising is essential!

Focusing on sales promotion or consumer giveaways,in civilized societies, where people adhere strictly to rules, companies are NOT allowed to advertise promos, giveaways or competitions falsely (emphasis on the NOT). Consumers love nothing more than freebies (we most definitely do), but it’s also important that companies are honest with their dealings. Offering prizes without actually giving them away is a serious offense in these countries. Companies sponsoring such giveaways must also be aware of the Federal and state laws governing.

Prizes, freebies, giveaways are effective ways companies advertise their products and keep up with competition .For example, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission ensures that the actual items are given away and the items provided are not different from what was originally offered. The nature of the prizes should also be detailed, no hidden catches or misleading statement or ambiguity.  The same applies for the Federal Trade Commission in the US and the Officer of Fair Trading in the UK. They all regulate sales promotion laws and evaluate practices to protect consumers from DECEPTIVE and predatory marketing techniques.  These countries understand the importance of consumer protection and have seen these sales promotion laws as necessary to protect lover of freebies (like me) from fraud.

The Nigerian regulatory body in charge of consumer protection is the Consumer Protection Council (CPC). Yes, contrary to what you had earlier assumed, we DO have a consumer protection regulatory body. Amongst others, their functions include, assisting in verification of claims and prizes won by consumers or participants, ensuring claims or prizes won are delivered or presented promptly to the winners, investigating complaints arising from such sales promotions and generally ensuring the interest of the consumers are protected.  In other words, protecting Nigerians from ludicrous promotions like the “MTN ULTIMATE WONDER PROMO”. My first reaction to that promo was “do we have any regulators that deal with consumer giveaways?, the answer to that  is obviously yes.  Next question, did they investigate or look into their assertions? I mean we are talking about MTN here, not some random insignificant company that no one would pay attention to. According to an article published on business day on the 3rd of Sept 2012 (link below), the Council has directed MTN to make sure consumers receive adequate information on its ultimate wonder promo. Consumers are not properly directed to the site where the terms and conditions applicable to the promotion are published. MTN was also accused of not stating the market value of the aircraft to be won, the size of the aircraft and the period of delivery to the owner. If all these do not indicate fraud or misleading the public, I don’t know what else would. The aircraft supposedly up for grabs is worth $400,000 and the winner is entitled to the aircraft or cash. The aircraft has not been bought because they believe winners would prefer the cash equivalent. Really, MTN????So WHY advertise an aircraft in the first place?? Why not just leave it at a money promotion? Shouldn’t promos be vetted before going public? Or is the CPC just another Nigerian dysfunctional regulatory body?  Please share your opinions.

Legally Yours,



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