After the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), the federal government-led agency in charge of advertising, among other things, had instilled guardrails on the type of content advertisers share with the public.
The ban on the use of foreign models and voice-over artists in adverts has made Nigerians react on different platforms. It immediately struck a lightning rod on social media between users who saw it as another move indicative of the government’s overreach in the country and others who felt that it was a long-needed gesture.
“We are getting to a point where the federal government will ban international movies on our cinema,” one user on Twitter said. “If you’ve been to other African countries like Egypt or Morocco, you’ll understand this ban better,” another user opined.
The agency issued the statement two days saying that it has come to the decision as a way to increase the use of local talents by advertisers. See an excerpt from the announcement from ARCON below:
“In line with the Federal Government’s policy of developing local talent, inclusive economic growth and the need to take necessary steps and actions aimed at growing the Nigerian advertising industry, the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON), being the apex advertising, advertisement and marketing communications’ regulatory agency of the Federal Government, has in accordance with its statutory mandates, responsibilities and powers as conveyed by the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria Act No. 23 of 2022 bans the use of foreign models and voice-over artists on any advertisement targeted or exposed on the Nigerian advertising space…All advertisements, advertising and marketing communications materials are to make use of only Nigerian model and voice-over artists.”
This ban is part of a new rebranding camping that the agency started this week with its Director General, Dr Lekan Fadolapo announcing the change of its name from Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) to Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON).
Does this increase opportunities for local talents?
While there isn’t a history of foreigners snagging voice-over gigs in the country, the Nigerian broadcast industry generally has always favoured talents sometimes encouraging them to take up British or American accents to keep their jobs. Other times returnees from the Americas and Europe get all the jobs. The ban doesn’t address the accent used in adverts at all.
Years after pro-Africa campaigns have exploded across the world, many Nigerian media companies and billboard adverts still feature lots of obvious non-Nigerians or Black people in their content typically from royalty-free images gotten on the Internet.
While the ban from ARCON will make a significant shift in the people that we see on advertisement materials, it doesn’t address the issue it claims to remedy which is securing more opportunities for African talent.
More stringent copyright laws in the country for instance will be a better step to solving the problem of foreign models in adverts, especially on billboards and other forms of banners advert content. If copyright laws are enforced, more Nigerians will make their content available on websites where they can be paid for them.
Blogger, Jamaldeen, who does voice-overs for commercials didn’t see the ban as a welcome move for the advert industry. “This is dangerous, retaliatory step would hurt us,” he said of it.
More erratic border closure problems
This move also further underscores the long history of “border closure” policies in the Muhammadu Buhari administration, as a mechanism to force the country to consume more local produce, which has never worked out well.
The government for instance shut down the land border for two years in a bid to encourage Nigerians to buy more local produce. Rather, it skyrocketed the prices of goods and services in the country. This is merely just another border closure policy that will not be good for Nigerian citizens, especially those who look for voice-over and modelling gigs outside the country.
But this is nothing new for people who have closely watched the policies of the current president. During his earlier regime as a military head of state, one of his first orders of business was to shut the border. While he travels frequently on trips to Europe, the president has been looking for rather unhealthy ways to work with foreign governments to reduce the number of Nigerians who migrate.
The ban could also increase the budget for advert creations as those royalty-free images that advertising agencies have turned to cut the cost of actually shooting, will now face a rather perilous moment in which they can’t be used.
For this bill to even solve the problem that it purports to, it will take a lot of policies geared toward creating a thriving creative gig economy.
ARCON added that “Ongoing campaigns are permitted to run out their terms, however, subsequent applications for revalidation for continued exposure of such materials will not be granted by the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP].”
The ban will take effect from 1st October 2022.
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