Nigeria’s decision to ban international models eliminates colorism and promotes culture

Deborah Dzifa Makafui August 29, 2022
Nigeria Fashion Week. Photo: Reuters

Nigeria’s advertising regulator has decided to outright prohibit international models and voiceover artists in an effort to promote local talent. In October, the policy will become effective. It is anticipated to improve locals’ employment opportunities in the advertising sector, which is dominated by white models with British accents.

Brits made up approximately half of the models and voice actors in Nigerian ads a few decades ago, according to Steve Babaeko, president of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria. Babaeko stated that there was some type of renaissance in Nigeria and a new sense of pride rising among young people, indicating the shifting circumstances in Nigeria with more patriotic sentiments catching up. 

The pushback against foreign-shot or foreign-modeled ventures that resulted from this restriction also mirrored the underlying national opinion. Nigeria has already implemented limits to manage the flood of foreigners, requiring businesses to pay a charge of 100,000 Naira (about $240) before using any international models in their commercials.

Since it affects everyone, colorism has long been a widespread problem in Nigeria. Despite this, it is rarely addressed or investigated, presumably because people are preoccupied with other issues. Describe colorism. Colorism is Shadeism, a form of prejudice or discrimination that typically comes from members of the same race. 

Most of us are aware of racism, which is discrimination based on race, but colorism is distinct because it affects Black people and is not just common in Nigeria. Even in other countries, there seems to be a preference for people who are a lighter shade of Black or mixed race people amongst Black people.

One could argue that it all dates back to colonial times when anything white was considered the best and superior while anything black was seen as inferior. As a result, black people developed insecurities, and we can still observe it everywhere we go, with white people often receiving extra special treatment. However, the discrimination experienced by members of our own race is what we are focusing on here. Due to the concept that anything white is preferred, even among Black people, anything lighter is favored.

In recent years, brands from several industries have faced criticism for their colorism. For instance, Nivea, Heineken, and Dove have come under fire for promoting the idea that having lighter skin is better. All of these things are highly ingrained and accepted in our daily lives, and colorism still exists in Nigeria, whether it goes under the pretext of a simple preference for one skin type over another or a casual remark that shouldn’t be taken personally. Because we don’t recognize our ideas, behaviors, and statements as being colorist, it appears as though it doesn’t. With this new law put in place, I hope that it addresses the issues and insecurities associated with colorism in the country.

This ban would also see more commercials shot locally. This means that the Nigerian culture would be appreciated better. In this era of globalization, the demand for cultural preservation and national identity has taken on significant importance. Today, the globe has expanded to include a worldwide bedroom in addition to a global village. The importance of cultural diversity in the media as a means of maintaining and promoting cultures has received particular emphasis recently as a result of the enormous growth of the communication and information sectors.

Therefore, it is essential for people to have some distinctive characteristics that may clearly set them apart from others, being perpetuated in the media. There is no denying that the mass media plays a significant role in promoting cultures and cultural identities through disseminating values, ideas, and developmental information in a variety of ways. The sole source of promotion for the values and cultures of the ordinary Nigerian community is its mass media.

Marketers must first accept that colorism is systematic and continues to exist as they struggle to connect with and serve Black and Brown communities. Our own collective biases, which determine who we choose to feature and whose stories are communicated in marketing, must be overcome.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 29, 2022


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