A new directive by the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria bans the use of foreign models and voice-over artists in local advertising campaigns from October 1.
According to the council, all local advertisements, advertising and marketing communications material targeted or exposed on the Nigerian advertising space are to use only Nigerian models and voice-over artists.
“This is 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,” says the regulatory body.
The move has sparked controversial debate within the global advertising space with some foreign media reportedly interpreting the ban on foreign models and accents as an attempt to cut ties with colonial mindsets in the country.
However, Segun Arinze, President of the Association of Voice-Over Artists in Nigeria, defends the move as a necessary measure to protect and grow local talent in Nigeria.
“When you travel to the West, you do not hear foreign accents being used in local advertising campaigns. In France, you hear French accents as voice-over artists, not an English one. For years, local professionals in our industry have lost business to brands looking for foreign accents and this has really harmed the earning potential of Nigerian models and artists. I believe this is a step in the right direction to help protect the industry and give local artists the opportunity to earn money from their craft,” says Arinze.
What is not clear about the new ban is how it affects Nigerians with foreign accents. The country has a number of professional voice-over artists who have relocated home from the diaspora or who have acquired foreign accents by watching Hollywood films and are in high demand on local radio stations that cater to the middle class.
“I am born and bred in Nigeria but I left the country when I was about 10 years old to the UK. I returned home in 2019 after living and working in London and decided to launch my media company where we create audio podcasts as well as radio jingles and advertisements for brands. I clearly have a British accent so how does this affect me? Do I need to start speaking in my local dialect before I can get business?” asks Temi Osagie, a media entrepreneur based in Lagos.
“I believe this is a step in the right direction to help protect the industry and give local artists the opportunity to earn money from their craft.
Similar bans in Nigeria, like the prohibition of foreign rice, led to a boost in the local production of rice as well as an influx of young agricultural entrepreneurs in the country, however, there is still a wide demand for foreign rice which is now reportedly being smuggled into the country.
As to whether this recent ban will have a similar outcome remains to be seen.