Culture /

Nigeria Becomes First Country to Ban Foreign Models in Ads

Officials & Ad Execs Believe New Law Is 'Catching Up With National Sentiment'

Nigeria has become the first country in the world to ban foreign models in television advertising.

The African nation’s new law also applies to voice-over artists working within Nigerian advertising.

The government says it instituted the policy to develop local talent, inclusive economic growth, and the need to take necessary steps to grow the Nigerian advertising industry. The ban effectively means that as of Oct. 1, all non-Nigerian models and voice-over artists will be out of a job.

Advertising campaigns in Nigeria, for years, have been dominated by foreigners with multinational brands like Coca-Cola and LG that distributed their global campaigns — which largely feature white models — in Nigeria, according to the Times London.

“Ten to twenty 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,” Steve Babaeko, president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, told The Times.

He mentioned that a “new sense of pride” is emerging among Nigerians, which has created some backlash when ads were shot abroad or used foreign models.

Nigeria has long been attentive to media representation. Even now, prior to the ban’s enactment, companies must pay 100,000-Naira (roughly $240) as a tariff for each foreign model who appears in an ad.

“I think the law is just catching up with national sentiment. As long as maybe eight years ago you would notice some kind of renaissance in Nigeria,” Babaeko 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?’”

Critics of the new policy have stated that it is a “ban on white models” in Sub Saharan Africa’s largest economy. But, local officials and industry professionals hail the legislation as a positive cultural shift.

“We say this is a welcome development. It’s enabling regulation that favors the local industry, especially at a time Nigeria is in dire need of sufficient platforms for its teeming youth population,” Segun Arnize, the president of the Association of Voice-Over Artistes Nigeria, said in a statement.

“Advertising should resonate with the people,” Olalekan Fadolapo, director-general of the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria, told The Times. “How do you think it will resonate if we keep using foreign artists?”

*For corrections please email [email protected]*