BIPOC Voices, News & Events

Nigeria is banning white models in ads

We’re here for it.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Sep 16, 2022

Advertisements that aired in Nigeria for years have featured white actors and narrators with British accents. However, as of October, that is likely to change, as the country imposes a ban on white and other non-Nigerian models, as well as international voice actors. This ban on ​​foreign voiceover artists and performers is part of a campaign to support local talent and foster support for creatives in the country itself.


The president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria, Steve Babaeko, stated that this ban will effect all non-Nigerian actors and artists, in a desire to influence national feelings toward representing the country and its native population, which amounts to more than 200 million people.


Nigeria has one of the strictest laws governing media representation in the world. Even before the ban was imposed, businesses had to pay a 100,000-Naira (about $240 USD) tax for each international model used in an advertisement.


In a statement made to The Times, Babaeko explained that 20 years ago commercials featured 50% foreign actors and faces, with all the voiceovers being in British accents. Babaeko continues to explain that over the last 8 or so years, there has been a renaissance in the media in Nigeria, making it so Nigerians have a newfound sense of pride, especially when it comes to the younger generation. This perhaps has something to do with more exposure to social media and the internet.


The hope of this campaign is to bring more creative projects into the country and boost opportunities for local talent to have a space and a platform to thrive. There are already agencies that have adopted this ban and are using it to their advantage. For example, the British agency BBDO recently created an African campaign in Lagos with a Nigerian director and Nigerian models. The campaign, made for Guinness, came with the slogan: “Black Shines Brightest,” reflecting this change in the advertising industry.


This comes at a time when advertising agencies really don’t have an excuse to subscribe to white-washing and creating ads that are not inclusive of diversity, and that forgo equity and inclusion at large. Nigeria is setting the stage for other countries to follow suit by taking the lead and being at the forefront of this campaign.


We’ve recently started to see advertising and media have less barriers; for instance, influencers have to announce edited photos, so here’s how to tell if an ad is fake.


Photo via Guinness Nigeria