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Nigeria becomes first country to officially ban foreign models and voice-over artists in adverts

The ban signals a shift in national feeling toward wanting to take back the narrative of representation in the country's native population.

Nigeria becomes first country to officially ban foreign models and voice-over artists in adverts
Cover Image Source: YouTube/Coca-Cola Nigeria

Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Information and Culture announced last week that the country's Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ACRON) has issued a complete ban on the use of foreign models and voice-over artists in Nigerian media from October. According to a statement shared by the ministry on Twitter, the ban will cover all non-Nigerian actors—including white actors who have predominantly appeared in the country's television adverts for years. The announcement signals a shift in national feeling toward wanting to take back the narrative of representation in the country's native population.



 

"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 (ACRON), 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 with effect from 1st October 2022," the statement reads.



 

Speaking to The Times about the new ban, Steve Babaeko, president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, said: "Ten to 20 years ago if you checked the commercials, I would say they were almost 50/50 in terms of foreign faces and all the voiceovers were British accents." According to the publication, even before the blanket ban was announced, companies had to pay a 100,000 Naira (approximately $236) tariff for every foreign model used in an advert. Yet, most Nigerian brands were more inclined to use foreign faces in their ads, with voiceovers in British accents.



 

However, according to Babaeko, Nigeria appears to have gone through a "kind of renaissance" over the last eight years or so with a "new sense of pride emerging" among its young population. This, in turn, has resulted in a "backlash" against projects that are shot abroad with foreign models, he said. "People will tell you, 'There are about 200 million of us. Are you telling me you could not find indigenous models for this commercial?'" Babaeko shared.



 

The statement issued by ARCON adds: "All advertisements, advertising and marketing communications materials are to make use of only Nigerian model and voice-over artist. 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.) Advertisers, advertisement agencies, media houses, advertising community and the general public are hereby enjoined to take note."

News of the ban has received mixed reactions from social media users. "This is the way a responsible government protects its own people and culture," commented @JoshuaHogarth1. "So it's now this government came to their senses? You are just seeing the need to patronize our local artists? Not only patronizing our local artists but also our products and services. Nigeria needs to look inwards," wrote @Born2Win_Unltd. "I have mixed race kids. There is not a good future for non-POC," argued @mikeall84403276. "I agree with African nations proactively being self-reliant and determining their culture. I'm not sure if govt policy is needed though. What if Sweden or Spain were to adopt this legislation? I'm not sure the reaction would be the same," stated @konick_tim.

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