Nigeria Becomes The First Country To Officially Ban The Use Of White Models In Advertising

Representation matters and Nigeria is standing on it. Over the years, the faces and voices seen and heard in the country differed from who they were reaching. Foreign models and British accents were the default in campaigns and voiceovers. Soon, things will look and sound pretty different.

The recent decision from the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria states that all advertisements, advertising and marketing communications materials should use only Nigerian models and voiceover artists.

Nigeria has had an undeniable boom or renaissance with a “new sense of pride” among young people, according to Steve Babaeko, president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, Atlanta Black Star reports. The local love has spread globally with the massive commercial success of Afrobeats and Nollywood cinema.


Although the global craving has increased, the local Nigerian marketing industry seems disconnected. The difficulty of finding one native model out of the 200 million has the country up in arms.

On Oct. 1, which also happens to be Nigeria’s Independence Day, the outright ban will expand upon an existing tariff, which requires advertisers to pay 100,000 naira, or around $240, for every foreign model.

The hope is that it will channel more creative projects into the country and help boost opportunities for native talent. The British agency AMV BBDO has already shot an African campaign. Their campaign for Guinness, “Black Shines Brightest,” was shot in Lagos with a Nigerian director and local models, reflecting the shift in the nation’s advertising industry.

Although federal agencies are looking to possibly create avenues for creative expression for the youth, there are some with uneasy feelings surrounding the ban.

While many have applauded the measure, some critics say it is reverse racism or xenophobia. Nigerians have also slammed some media outlets for creating a false narrative around the announcement.


It has been common for Nigerian brands to use foreigners and global companies to distribute their advertisements throughout the former British colony, which gained independence in 1960, Al Jazeera reports.

With the industry having already evolved, the ban could see more commercials shot locally.

All current advertisers using foreign models are free to continue their campaigns throughout the year, but new applications to do so will not be granted.

Photo Credit – Bestbe Models
Photo Credit – Bestbe Models

Olalekan Fadolapo, Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) head, defended the regulation by saying that “advertising should resonate with the people,” RT reports.