Representation is important, and Nigeria is relying on it. Over time, the faces and voices seen and heard in the country shifted in relation to who they were reaching. In campaigns and voiceovers, foreign models and British accents were the norms. Things will soon look and sound very different.
The Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria recently decided that all advertisements, advertising, and marketing communications materials should only use Nigerian models and voiceover artists.
According to Steve Babaeko, president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, Nigeria has experienced an undeniable boom or renaissance, with a “new sense of pride” among young people, Atlanta Black Star reports. With the massive commercial success of Afrobeats and Nollywood cinema, local love has spread globally.
Despite increased global demand, the Nigerian marketing industry appears disconnected. The difficulty of finding one native model out of 200 million has enraged the country.
On Oct. 1, Nigeria’s Independence Day, the outright ban will be expanded upon an existing tariff that requires advertisers to pay 100,000 naira, or about $240, for each foreign model.
The hope is that it will bring more creative projects to the country and increase opportunities for indigenous talent. AMV BBDO, a British advertising agency, has already shot an African campaign. “Black Shines Brightest,” their Guinness campaign, was shot in Lagos with a Nigerian director and local models, reflecting a shift in the country’s advertising industry.
Although federal agencies are looking into possibly creating avenues for youth creative expression, some are concerned about the ban.
While many have praised the measure, some critics have claimed that it is reverse racism or xenophobia. Nigerians have also chastised some media outlets for spinning a false story about the announcement.
According to Al Jazeera, it is common for Nigerian brands to use foreigners and global companies to distribute their advertisements throughout the former British colony, which gained independence in 1960.
Because the industry has already evolved, the ban may result in more commercials being shot locally.
All current advertisers who use foreign models may continue their campaigns throughout the year, but new applications will not be accepted.
According to RT, Olalekan Fadolapo, the head of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), defended the regulation by saying that “advertising should resonate with the people.”