Veteran journalist and lawyer, Barrister Charles Odenigbo, has argued that the Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) is not mandated to regulate social media, while a voice-over artiste believed the agency was only looking for relevance.
An advocate of unity, justice and economic development in Nigeria, Barr Odenigbo stated this during a recent ARCON event which had the theme, “Political Advertising: Leadership Responsibility & Compliance with the Law in Nigeria”.
“Nobody is regulating social media in Nigeria. However, the bill that was recently signed into law did not indicate in any way that ARCON should regulate social media. The records need to be set straight in order to not mislead many Nigerians to start panicking,” Barr Odenigbo said, while responding to a question as one of the panelists.
He, however, explained that the moment a social media user picks any form of advert on Google, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook then ARCON will need to look at it, especially if it falls within the categories of items penciled for vetting by the Advertising Standards Panel (ASP).
He added that every advert that must be on social media has to go for vetting.
“On each social media platform, you are free to do whatever you want to do. But you may be vetted the moment you carry an advert on that particular platform.
“In INEC guidelines, there’s provision for the condition to keep tabs on social media campaigns in a proscribed form issued by the commission that will include but not limited to the following; contacts for phone number, email address, web page address and those of their sponsors and social media accounts.
“All the same, ARCON is not regulating social media; it is only going to regulate advertising that passes through social media,” Barr Odenigbo explained.
In a her reaction, a professional voiceover artiste, who rather preferred to be anonymous, informed Freelanews that there was hardly any record of foreign artistes operating in the Nigerian media space.
“Voice overs have always been done by Nigerians. Even though they mostly sound British and American. ARCON trying to pose like they are working.
“The real problem is not who is taking the jobs but the value of the voice over artiste.
“Voice over artiste and media personalities in Nigeria do not earn commensurate to their counterparts overseas,” she said.
She recounted an experience when the station she worked for got a brief for Limca, an artificial competitor created for Coca Cola drink by same company for a radio jingle.
Singing: All you need is a drink, Limca, X2
Lime and lemoni drink, Limca
100 naira only, lime and lemon 50cl, drink Limca!
Imagine you’re with a couple of friends with beautiful music up in the air and then… the so lime ‘n’ lemoni taste of Limca (sighs) that tingles your taste buds, and refreshes you all at the same time for one hundred naira ‘pere’. …
“Coca-Cola paid millions for the advert but the agencies took more than 70% to themselves and pay talent peanuts. That is the real issue.
“I was not even paid for a Coca-Cola advert I did when I was on radio. It ran for 6 months and I couldn’t even question why I was not paid because APCON then went to meet my employer directly and my employer despite paying me peanuts did not pay me a commission for doing the job. They told me it was part of the contract I signed with them to do Voice overs for free along side my on-air job 🤣🤣🤣.
“If I decided to sue, they’ll say I’m a trouble maker.
“Talent compensation needs to be protected, that’s the real problem. No foreigner takes our job. All talent is in Nigeria but are undervalued,” she lamented.
She revealed that Coca-Cola paid artiste fee because a colleague leaked the contract to her.
“Coca-Cola paid them artiste fee. I eventually saw the contract. One of my colleague showed it to me but I’ve been in this game called Nigeria and I know that the bigger picture is what matters,” she said.
When asked how sure she was regarding the use of foreign voiceover artistes.
“That was in the 90s. APCON regulates advertising in Nigeria and it’s in their code already.”
And foreign models?
“Nooo… they are all Nigerians. Except on the digital space. TV, radio, Papers and outdoors is regulated under APCON. When I saw ARCON news I was just laughing because that’s not the issue. The issue is that Coca-Cola pays the artiste almost $10000 but you keep $9000 to your selves and sometimes even take it all. 🤷🏽♀️
“Nigeria is not progressing because people eat other peoples money. No nation prospers like this. It’s one step forward and 100 steps backwards.
“Whether they change name hope they will change their character. One thing is to change name another is to maintain status quo,” she said.
She, therefore, advocated that the ARCON should focus on better remuneration of artiste than ‘all these surface level problems’.
However, to Ndubuisi Ekekwe, a journalist and an author, the whole idea was not really a bad but there is need for it to be clearly defined.
“Jobs for the local team; not a bad policy. Nonetheless, we should be nuanced and flexible as we implement this. Why? I am not sure you can define a ‘Nigerian model’ and a ‘Nigerian voice’ in this age when Apple, Spotify, etc are signing our young people for the big stages across Africa. If other African countries implement the same, we lose since Nigerian artists outperform Africa-wide.
“I continue to wait for someone that will hire my nice voice (lol) for a major advertisement in Nigeria. The only companies which continue to show up are beer/alcohol companies which want my voices to connect my work in Harvard on Igba Boi to sell beer, by linking everything to tradition. Of course, no amount can make me do that.
“But if you need a Nigerian voice and a Nigerian model on many other business domains, Ndubuisi Ekekwe meets the specs and can help. Write the script so that I do not speak for one hour on the ad! Hahaha. That is what the government expects! Lol,” he said.
Ekekwe then advocated for the practitioners’ support for the new regulation.
“This is local content – and let us support the government on this. We do not need AIs with alien voices talking to Nigerians on radios and TVs. Do not do that; get a real voice,” he concluded.
To a trained business analyst and founder of DoviLearn, Vincent Okeke, there is need to be worried about new policy.
“I am a proponent of a “free market”. I am worried about extreme government interference in the private sector, because such moves most time scare foreign investors or foreign businesses away. Let the virtue of things speak for it. Allow market to flow based on it’s own needs and dynamics. By default, every experienced creative ad specialist will know the need to localise their creative copies and models. You may not need to tell them. It is weird or even uncommon to see an advert in Nigerian being done by white/foreign models, except a very few (extremely few). But what about an international company (in Nigeria) that has a global ambassador being used or included in all their commercials as their unique branding? Should they stop to use him or her for Nigerian contents? What impact does that have compared to the possible millions of $$$ the company would invested in the country? Extreme government regulations scare investors. Government should focus on improving the efficiency in the public sector and allow the private sector be,” he wrote.