Why Nigeria banned white models and voice-over artists off its adverts

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The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) announced a ban on the use of foreign models and voice-over artists in Nigeria on 23rd August 2022.

UBA bank advert feature Nigerian artist, Wizkid. Source: YouTube/UBA

ARCON promotes the reason to be “developing local talent” in the increasingly global digital economy.

Led by its Director General of the Council, Dr Olalekan Fadolapo, ARCON said the law will come into effect from 1st of October, and any existing contracts before then shall continue to exist but will not be renewed by the council if it expires after the date.

Dr Fadolapo said, “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 wit its statutory mandates, responsibilities and powers as converted 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.

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 application for revalidation for continued exposure of such materials will not be granted by the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP).”

What is the definition of foreign models and voice-over artists?

In the ARCON statement, there are no specific mentions of the “white” models.

It is believed that the message is aimed at the British people as they dominate the Nigerian modelling and voice-over industry, however it is not truly clear what “foreign” means in this context because there are really white models shown on screen.

Take for example Glo telecommunications who recently featured Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua as its brand ambassador. Being a Nigerian works in Anthony’s favour, but would his accent and the fact that he was born outside Nigeria count as someone who is foreign?

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