ARCON, advertisers clash over 75% local content policy


The recent directive by the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) that all advertisements and marketing directed at the Nigerian market from January 1, 2023, must use 75% local content, has continued to unsettle the advertising industry, Business Hallmark can report.

While the advertising regulatory agency is insisting on going ahead with the implementation of the new policy as planned, operators described the policy as ill-timed, arguing that it could be counterproductive.

BH checks show that multinational brands like Samsung, Techno, LG, Nigerian Breweries, Guinness, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Cadbury, have mostly used non-Nigerian models and locations, while occasionally using Nigerian voice-over artists.

ARCON, had in August, totally banned the use of foreign models and voice-over artists on Nigerian advertising media. According to the regulating agency, the implementation of the policy will take effect from October 2022.

“All advertisements, advertising, and marketing communications materials are to make use of only Nigerian models and voice-over artists.

“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.

“Advertisers, advertisement agencies, media houses, advertising community and the general public are hereby enjoined to take note”, the Director General of ARCON, Dr. Olalekan Fadolapo, had said back in August.

However, owing to the opposition that trailed the policy, ARCON relaxed the policy in October, allowing advertisers to use 25% foreign contents in all ads and marketing directed at the Nigerian market, while the remaining 75% must be local content.

The implementation date was also pushed from October 31st, 2022 to January 1, 2023.

Despite stiff resistance from operators within the nation’s integrated marketing communications space, ARCON has vowed that nothing will prevent it from implementing the policy.

According to ARCON, the policy will go a long way in checking leakages within the nation’s advertising ecosystem, further empower practitioners and create more jobs.

The agency’s boss defended the policy, lamenting that the nation’s advertising industry loses over N120 billion yearly to production of advertising, advertisement and marketing communications materials outside the country.

The old practice of sourcing talents and materials from abroad, he added, had led to huge job losses, as well as retarding the growth of the industry.

Our correspondent further learnt that with the new policy, filming and production of advertising, advertisement and marketing communication materials must be done in Nigeria by local firms, while model voice over artists must be Nigerians.

Meanwhile, operators will be allowed to do post production at any location, either locally or abroad.

“Production crew may include foreigners, it is, however, compulsory for Nigerians and Nigerian organizations to partake in the production,” Fadolapo insisted.

Enumerating the benefits of the policy, the ARCON boss said it will attract investments to the industry.

“Annually, this policy will create over 500,000 new job opportunities within the advertising industry with a positive multiplier effects on the economy. Besides, current job holders will be protected as the Nigerian advertising ecosystem will witness progressive growth. The new policy will also attract investment to the industry,” he stated.

Operators, however, are not totally buying the new initiative. BH findings revealed that while some stakeholders, especially artists and producers are in support of the policy, advertising agencies are not welcoming it.

One of the stakeholders, the Advertisers Association of Nigeria, (ADVAN), totally disagree with ARCON.

ADVAN, while reacting through its executive council, said the policy, especially the ban on foreign models was not well thought out.

“It is ADVAN‘s standpoint that the ban on foreign models was not well thought out. It is a poorly researched and an ineffective attempt at seeking a solution for sustainable growth in the advertising industry.

“Nigeria, as a country in the global economy, has an expatriate policy which allows for non-Nigerians to be gainfully and legally employed by Nigerian organisations, in adherence to the stipulations of the law.

“It is a widely known fact that Nigerian model, creatives, and voice-over artists are also beneficiaries of the friendly cross-border work/trade interactions that currently exist.

“This ban puts a distinct demography of Nigerians of employable age – especially youths who make up the large number of those in this space, at a significant disadvantage with their global counterparts.

“It does little to advance Nigeria’s commitment, for instance, to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which Nigeria and Nigerian businesses stand to benefit from”, the association noted.

ADVAN advised the government to always embrace comprehensive stakeholder interactions and inclusiveness in their policy creation and implementation in seeking development for the Nigerian advertising landscape.

“This will provide clarity for reasons behind the decline of advertising budgets, and the most beneficial solutions in attracting increased spend.

“Regulation and regulators must be collaborative and inclusive, rather than confrontational in nature to help develop a given industry,” ADVAN maintained.

Another organisation that is skeptical about the policy is the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN).

President of the association, Steve Babaeko, said the advertising industry attracts the bests talents all over the world and that Nigeria cannot be an exception.

“Ten to twenty years ago, it was almost 50/50 in terms of foreign faces, and all voice-over artists were British. For example, Guinness’s TV Commercial about Sam, a sign-writer, was shot in Nairobi, Kenya, by British advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi and directed by Spanish director, Nacho Gayan”, he noted.

Also speaking on the ban, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Japanese advertising giant in Nigeria, Dentsu, Emeka Okeke, said the policy is capable of provoking retaliatory measures against Nigerian artistes and models in other jurisdictions, if not carefully managed.

Dentsu is the largest advertising agency in Japan and the fifth largest advertising agency network in the world in terms of worldwide revenues.

“I like to say briefly that we must be cautious with the implementation of the policy banning the use of foreign artists and models in the Nigerian advertising creative industry.

“I am a part of ARCON and I am in support of the policies of the regulatory body, however, we must carefully examine this new policy to ensure it is not so counter-productive as to diminish its envisaged benefits,” Okeke stated.

While advertising agencies are kicking against the policy, local producers have thrown their weigh behind it.

The Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria ITPAN expressed its joy over the policy compelling a minimum of 75 per cent cumulative local content in advertisements targeted at the Nigerian market.

According to the National President of ITPAN, Adeyinka Oduniyi, the association had long been an advocate and campaigner for urgent and critical policy interventions to save the practice and business of advertising in Nigeria.

“We are very glad that the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, the National Assembly and the DG of Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria have finally and jointly decided on a more effective regulatory framework to guide and protect the practice of advertising and its ancillary businesses in conformity with the best practices within the global advertising community.

“It is therefore gratifying to identify with and fully endorse the noble determination of the ARCON not only to stem the hemorrhage but to deliberately put in place a policy environment that will protect and encourage the rebuilding of a viable and sustainable advertising industry for the overall good of our national economy.

“At fruition, this new policy will put an immediate end to the acts of ferrying production of audio-visual advertisement materials to producers in foreign countries as well as discourage the use of foreign models and voice-over artistes thereby returning the jobs to equally and even better skilled Nigerians.

“As a direct consequence, the very many lost briefs and jobs shall return while our languishing production equipment shall find opportunities for productive engagements.

“On their parts, business owners shall be encouraged to reinvest and re-employ those who had been redundant; new investors and investments shall be attracted to bring in funding opportunities that financial institutions can leverage on.

“On our part, ITPAN hereby commits to engage with ARCON and other critical stakeholders to begin the rejuvenation process by developing ideas and strategies as well as implementing strategic partnerships and business opportunities that can lead to a more prosperous and sustainable industry for Nigeria and its people”, the ITPAN boss said.


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