Right now, advertising regulation in South Africa applies only to companies and not to people. Which is absurd because both companies and people are able to sell products.
For some strange reason, advertising regulators have never been able to regulate what people sell in spite of some of those products and services contravening virtually every code of ethics imaginable.
Here are some examples from the classified sections of some of South Africa’s most respected daily newspapers. Newspapers that, by the way, also carry items of interest and cartoons for children.
“The woman healer” will “bring back your lost lover in one day; provide lotto and casino spells, boost your business and enlarge your manhood, hips or bums.”
Another ad from a “real powerful miracle doctor” will “get money into your account the same day and clear loans.”
But, most ludicrous of all from the “Great spiritual healer” will help you “win tenders” and cast “love spells that really work, bring lost lover back” and claims “my powers are 100% guaranteed to work”.
Another so-called “Doctor” guarantees to solve all your problems within 30 minutes and also offers a “revenge” service
All these are listed under the classified category ‘Herbalists’.
Then, under the heading ‘Female Entertainment’, there are all manner of offers of “sensual pleasure” from “Hot sexy Afro-babes”.
And so it goes on in ‘family’ newspaper after ‘family’ newspaper. Herbalists who take the art of being a charlatan to an entirely new level. And brothers, pimps and prostitutes offering ‘services’ without being in the least but subtle about it.
Ironically, one finds very few advertisements in newspapers today for Nutraceuticals – those pharmaceuticals made from natural ingredients, because advertising regulators seem to have decided that the reams of scientific evidence is never actually enough.
Admittedly, some nutraceuticals don’t really work but some of them do, much to the consternation of activists representing big pharma with the result that ads eventually get banned through constant lobbying pressure.
The answer to this seemingly very strange phenomenon is simple. It’s all about money.
Those ‘herbalists’, pimps and prostitutes present no threat whatsoever to any big business. They don’t tread on any big brand toes. So, they are left alone and allowed to advertise what they like how they like.
The hypocrisy of it all is quite breathtaking.
Chris Moerdyk (@chrismoerdyk ) is a marketing analyst and advisor and owner of Moerdyk Marketing with many years of experience in marketing and the media as well as serving as non-executive director and chairman of companies.
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