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Brands - April 10, 2023

Of ARCON and the development of local talent


By Amechi Obiakpu

Nearly six months ago, the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) announced a ban prohibiting the use of foreign models and voice-over artists in radio and television commercials to be aired in the country.

The advertising regulatory authority hinged the ban which took effect from October 1, 2022, on 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.

Citing the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria Act No, 23 of 2022, ARCON Director General, Dr Lekan Fadolapo said the ban also extends to other related materials including billboards.

Since the announcement of the ban, nearly six months down the line nothing much has been heard from that sector of the advertising space. And, not much information has been made available to the gains the industry has recorded restricting only local models and voice over artists.

Though, there are arguments that the advertising industry just like the economy at large is just recovering haven been on stand still since the ban took effect on October 1, 2022- almost immediately followed by the Christmas holiday, leading to the general elections and the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The intended gains however, may be subjective as some marketing experts believe that however good the intention may be, the outright ban on foreign models and voice over artists is not a well thought out approach. While some others differ in opinion.

In an interview with MediaConsortium, Kelechi Nwosu, Managing Director, TBWA/Concept, said knowing the effect of the ban on the industry will be talking about numbers, which only ARCON or the Association of Voice Over Artists can provide.

According to him, the policy would have had better effect if ARCON had created a way of discouraging foreign voices and encouraging local voices rather than a military tight ban.

“I think it is a policy with good intent, as it wants to promote our own voices including all of the things that comes with our own voices. But, I don’t quite agree they ought to ban them I believe they ought to be a way of discouraging foreign voices and encouraging local voices. Local voices is about resonance. It’s about us using our voice which is what we should be proud to do but we must find a distinction for instance, when a brand wants to show a foreign voice in a brand that has branches all over the world and they want to show to the world diversity, how are they going to do it if there is no foreign voice?

“The original thing they have is good, take some money pay a premium if you are using foreign voices and that money should go into development of local voices. That could have been my approach to it and that was my response to the ARCON DG,” he said.

Yinka Adebayo, a media investment expert and Executive Director at Media Reach OMD shared a similar opinion when he said allowing the foreign models and voice over artists to operate alongside the local talents would have done a better job to boost the latter.

“The ban in my opinion has not really imparted much because, since it was announced, the industry is yet to experience huge advertising campaign.

“For me, I do not see it as the best approach because you cannot say the whole world should stand still because you want to develop. If anything, we need to educate and empower and enable our own talent to come up to speed.

“The idea for brands to go into an industry is the level of professionalism involved and the question is do we have that professionalism here?

“If we don’t, can we say the whole world should stand still because we want to grow, no, we should create that enabling environment to aid the growth. In fact, the most professional approach that we see in international model is the one that will challenge our own talent to see how they will ramp up to come out of the challenge,” he pointed.

For Steve Babaeko, President of AAAN and Chief Executive of X3M Ideas Group, whether one agrees with that law or not, it is difficult to create a law that the whole world will agree with.

“You will have to understand the important thing the law is trying to highlight is let us begin to look inward and develop our own contents,” he said.

He pointed to the gains in the music industry which he attributed to the federal government’s policy of developing local talent.

“Until recently, the youth just copy foreign musicians but now foreign musicians copy us because we put more effort in developing our local talent, as Nigerians that imbibe that cultural practice and I think that is what is important”.

On the advertising industry as a whole, Chief Executive officer of Lilvera Group, Buchi Johnson stated that the new law setting up ARCON has prevented a capital flight to the tune of N120 billion.

According to him, “The law provides that, with effect from January 1, 2023, advertisers must use a cumulative 75% of local content in all ads and marketing directed at the Nigerian market. This is exciting because the country has been losing about ₦120 billion annually due to capital flight in the sector where ads targeted at Nigerians were produced externally creating jobs in other economies but not in the targeted economy, Nigeria.”

He enthused that, this law is expected to create over 500,000 jobs annually. According to him, this will lead to more multinational brands using Nigerian talents, agencies, and producers in commercials targeted at the Nigerian market.

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