Advertising: Multinationals, Banks, Get Knocks for Undermining Local Contents

Raheem Akingbolu

For their incessant practice of shooting television commercials (TVCs) and other advertising campaigns in foreign countries, Nigerian banks, telecommunications companies and other multinationals have been accused of frustrating efforts by stakeholders in the advertising industry to promote local content.

The Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had announced that the federal government was going to ban the production of Nigerian movies, music videos and television commercials outside the country to help grow the creative industry in Nigeria and to create jobs.

But despite this threat, the practice has continued unabated.

Some of the industry stakeholders, who spoke to THISDAY on this development, argued that the highest percentage of what is accruing to advert spending in Nigeria goes into the coffers of foreign countries.

They carpeted companies and creative agencies that still go to South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and other countries to produce advertising materials that can be handled locally.

To check this trend, a former Chairman, Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), Mr. Lolu Akinwunmi, under whom the council carried out the 5th Reform to promote local content, has called on government to slam extra cost on television commercials and other advertising material produced abroad.

Also a former President of the Independent Television Producers Association of Nigeria (IPAN), Femi Odugbemi, has also expressed his concern over the way creative agencies and their clients ignore local talents and move ahead to produce television commercials (TVC) in abroad.

He pointed out that Nigeria had the technical requirement needed to produce TVC locally.

He said, “The problem of shooting TVC abroad is killing Nigeria economy because our creative agencies and their clients, mostly multinationals go abroad for the production of what can be offered locally and pay in foreign currencies to foreign vendors.

“The practice became popular when companies operating in Nigeria started going abroad to bring in marketing directors. Of course, such directors will influence the company to go to his country for TVC production, thereby leading to huge capital flight.

“My question is this, ‘Why do we think it make sense to build the economy of another country through their creative industry and leave our own? Again, how many of these brands being overseen by foreign marketing directors have become global brands?”

While calling on those promoting this trend to stop, Odugbemi pointed out that if Nigerian music and Nollywood could go global, then advertising produced locally could also get global acceptability.

He also faulted the idea of incorporating foreign contents that are not connected with the local market into campaigns that will be run in Nigeria.

“It is absurd when we infuse a foreign music that has no local relevance into a TVC that is meant for Nigeria. If you find yourself in a foreign land, you should be able to understand the culture of the people the moment you watch their ad but unfortunately that cannot be said of Nigeria as our banks, telco brands and other multinationals still go to abroad to import content,” he said.

While commending the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) for its effort to control the ugly situation through a reform that was inaugurated few years ago, Odugbemi stated categorically that Nigeria has enough law to promote local content but lacks adequate enforcement of those laws.

Also speaking on the issue, the Chief Executive Officer of HS Group, Mr. Taye Ige, opined that Nigeria loses millions of naira and other currencies daily to production, technical crew, hospitality and other logistics when commercials are shot abroad.

“Perhaps we are not proud of what we have but I’m confident that there are equipments and adequate technology support locally to produce commercials that are meant for our market. By going abroad, we are losing a lot in the area of logistics and other production requirements. Since Nigerians pay for the consumption of these products, they must be allowed and encouraged to participate in their production,” Ige said.

Meanwhile, ad practitioners have argued that shortage of required technology and at times manpower forced agencies to look elsewhere for shooting of commercials.

Akinwunmi said even though he supported the call for local content, he argued that it would be difficult to restrain companies from shooting commercials abroad.

“It is difficult to stop them under the law of free enterprise. They have a right but for the country not to have a free fall, we can do what the Industry did in Brazil. If you wish to expose any material produced abroad, you pay an extra cost. China did it too. This way, federal government will be stopping them. Government will only let companies that want to go abroad to shot TVC know that there is an extra cost to it,” he said.

The APCON chief submitted that advertising has been professionally practiced in Nigeria for a long time, adding that indigenisation decree has helped the industry to develop what can be called Nigerian Advertising especially on Radio where the country can boast of some great creative work.

“APCON also supported via the 5th Reform. All of these put together provide enough support for local content development. However there are components that have not yielded. Among other components, foreign production and foreign unregistered personnel are still stumbling block. But above all, I’m of the opinion that the 5th Code if implemented will take care of these,” he said.

APCON had recently through its Committee on Advertising Practice Reforms (ACARP) reeled out a new guideline to advertising practice in Nigeria. Top on the new reform was the resolute use of local production of commercials intended for the Nigerian market. The council based this on the need to ensure stricter professionalism within the advertising industry and practice.

The council 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.

It went further to state that qualified Nigerian practitioners shall be given first consideration in any advertising project.

Regulatory bodies and other stakeholders in the African creative industry had over the years, expressed dissatisfaction with the non-promotion of local content in creative works emanating from local advertising agencies and film makers.

Advocates of the campaign for increase local content in creative works meant for exposure in Nigeria media and television commercials 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.

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