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Black Shines Brightest ad, Guinness Nigeria
Black Shines Brightest ad, Guinness Nigeria

Nigeria has officially banned white models in adverts

The ban on foreign actors and voiceover artists is part of a push to foster home-grown talent

For many years, adverts that air in Nigeria have starred white actors, and have been narrated by people with British accents. As of October, however, that looks set to change, as the country enforces a blanket ban on white and other non-Nigerian models, and foreign voiceover artists.

According to Nigeria’s advertising regulator, the ban will cover all non-Nigerian actors, representing a sea change in national feelings toward representing the country’s native population (which numbers more than 200 million). 

“Ten to 20 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, tells the Times. Nigerian brands would often use foreign faces, while international corporations would simply import their global campaigns.

However, Babaeko says that a “kind of renaissance” has occurred in Nigeria over the last eight years or so. A “new sense of pride emerging” among its young population, he adds, has led to “backlash” against projects that were obviously shot abroad with foreign models.

“People will tell you, ‘There are about 200 million of us. Are you telling me you could not find indigenous models for this commercial?’”

Taking effect on October 1, the outright ban expands upon an existing tariff, which requires advertisers to pay 100,000 Naira, or around £200, for every foreign model in an advert. The hope is that it will also channel more creative projects into the country and help boost opportunities for home-grown talent. Already, the British agency AMV BBDO has shot an African campaign for Guinness, “Black Shines Brightest”, in Lagos with a Nigerian director and local models, reflecting the shift in the nation’s advertising industry.