Local Content: How Far Can APCON Go?

06 Mar 2013

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B3010212-Bunmi-Oke.jpg - B3010212-Bunmi-Oke.jpg

 AAAN President, Mrs. Bunmi Oke

As the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) intensifies effort to promote local content in creative and communication campaigns, Raheem Akingbolu writes on likely challenges that Ad practitioners may have to contend with in the new advertising code

Over the years, regulatory bodies have expressed dissatisfaction with the non-promotion of local content in creative works emanating from local ad agencies.

Proponents of increased local content in creative works meant for exposure in Nigeria media often wonder why the setting, cast and even voice over in some commercials have been entirely foreign - a situation, which they argue, has denied Nigerian talents from being engaged by local practitioners. By extension, it is also believed that highest percentage of what is accruing to ad spending goes to foreign hands.   

On the other hand, ad practitioners have argued that the shortage of required technology and at times manpower forced agencies to look elsewhere for shooting of commercials. In the last few years, South Africa, Dubai and the United Kingdom are said to be the most visited sites for shooting for Nigerian practitioners.

New Stand on Local Content
Although considered in some quarters to be a belated move, the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), through its Committee on Advertising Practice Reforms (ACARP), recently reeled out a new guideline to advertising practice in Nigeria.
Top on the new reform was the resolute use of local production of commercial films intended for the Nigerian market. The council based this on the need to ensure stricter professionalism within the advertising industry and practice.

Speaking at a media briefing in Lagos, the committee’s chairman, Willy Nnorom, had emphasised the need for all corporate firms to be licensed and that all practitioners, whether individual or corporate, shall consider Nigerian content as an important element of their overall business management, project development and execution.  He went further to state that qualified Nigerian practitioners shall be given first consideration in any advertising project.

He also laid down the framework of the new reforms, which is a revised code of council proclamations. He reaffirmed the council’s resolve to stem the growing tide of foreign influence on the cultural personality and business opportunities of Nigeria.

According to him, the reform was in the best interest of all registered professionals within the advertising industry, adding that the council had taken far reaching decisions to grow local content. Among the areas affected by the reform are; specialised areas of operations, Advertising, Media, Full-service advertising, Creative, Interactive agency, Advertising artiste (which include voice-over artiste and modeling agency) and others.
AAAN President, Mrs. Bunmi Oke, who also spoke at the event, urged stakeholders to embrace the reforms for the benefit of the overall good and survival of local content. The Director-General of the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON), Mr. Segun Olaleye, and the President Advertisers’ Association of Nigeria (ADVAN) also spoke in support of the new guidelines.

Likely Challenges
Since the new guidelines were made public, not a few people have wondered if the area relating to local content can be strictly and totally adhered to, given the situation in the country. Chief Operating Officer at the Commstrat PR, Mr. Ganiyu Olowu, though hailed the new reform but wondered if the nation’s infrastructural challenge will not be a bottleneck to the dream.

“This is a welcome development because it is obvious that it will go a long way in projecting the best of our country and her people. Having said that, the current situation in the country, especially as it concerns infrastructure, may always force our people to go abroad for content. If we look at it deeply, having uninterrupted power supply will play a good role in sustaining such a dream. Even if the required technology is available, the industry will rely on electricity to make it work,” he said.

Reacting to the new development, a University don and one of the champions of the promotion of Nigerian culture, Prof. Bakare Ojo-Rasaki, said the dream can only be realised if all stakeholders can buy into it.

In an online interview, Bakare, who is the Artistic Director of Abuja Carnival, said; “As an astute believer in the promotion of Nigerian culture, I was impressed when I read about the move but I wish there will be total support and commitment from all fronts. Issues like this are often frustrated by saboteurs, who would go behind back door to do otherwise. My advice therefore is that APCON should be strict in monitoring of local agencies and practitioners.”

Another analyst, Mr. Ayodeji Ayopo, agreed that due to infrastructural development, foreign countries have an edge but argued that this does not translate to intellectual prowess.

According to him, “The time has really come for all practitioners to sit and deliberate on the myriad of issues confronting the industry to achieve this laudable dream. I was shocked beyond words several years back when a CEO of an advertising agency said he traveled to London to do colour separation and also printed calendar for a client!

“It is so bad that larger percentages of TV commercials are being shot overseas at the expense of home grown professionals. It actually became the in-thing in the industry as advertising agencies compete on the basis of obtaining quality production overseas. I believe a lot of harm is being done to professionals in Nigeria if every project is taken to overseas for production,” he said.

Reacting to APCON insistence that commercials should henceforth be produced locally even if the directors and crew are flown in, Ayopo expressed belief that it should be a total approach to ensure indigenous professionals, arguing that Nigeria has tested and sound professionals that could oversee the entire process.

Considering what would be the positive impact of the new regime on the industry, the President of the Association of Voice over Artists (AVOA), Mr. Ehi Omokhuale, has described the reform as something that would better the lots of his members and the entire ad industry.
Omokhuale, who stated that he had cleverly studied the content of the new guidelines, said his members jubilated over it and wished it could be followed to the letter by APCON.

“It was a welcome development, which we jubilated over but we were moderate in the jubilation because it was not the first time we would hear such news. All the same, we see it as a good approach towards giving Nigeria its rightful position in Africa.
“I say this because I don’t think it is possible for foreigner to go to a country like South Africa and assume a main stream of their communication business immediately. Aside this, it will also help put food on the table of local voice over artists,” he said.

Also commenting on the issue, the editor of Marketing Edge, a wholly marketing Communication journal, Mr. Wale Okoya said: “I see it as a big boost to the advertising industry because it will help to develop capacity and bring stability to marketing communication practice in Nigeria.

“I say this because when more of this commercial are done here, agencies will be able to expand; able to hire more people and able to engage more talents who may not necessary be within their companies. Beyond local content issue, am convinced that the new advertising code will bring sanity and will make it possible for agencies to recruit more people,” he added.

Tags: Nigeria, Featured, Business, Bunmi Oke, APCON

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