People & Money

Nigerian Adverts on CNN: Advertisers Kick Against the “Lai Tax”

In 2019, such companies spent N114 billion, roughly equivalent to the budget of Taraba State, on advertising. But because Nigerians, especially those unpatriotic middle classes, also watch content on CNN and other foreign television stations, advertisers send their video clips promoting noodles, children’s’ bank accounts, pension accounts, cooking oils etc. after their eyeballs as they stray outside Nigeria’s media borders.”

There are almost 200 million Nigerians whose diverse cultures have merged into a potent mix for producing and consuming entertainment. A PwC report, The Global Media and Entertainment Outlook 2017-2021, predicted that Nigeria would become the fastest growing media and entertainment market in the world. Companies seeking to sell stuff indirectly finance a lot of media content through advertising. In 2019, such companies spent N114 billion, roughly equivalent to the budget of Taraba State, on advertising.  But because Nigerians, especially those unpatriotic middle classes, also watch content on CNN and other foreign television stations, advertisers send their video clips promoting noodles, children’s’ bank accounts, pension accounts, cooking oils etc. after their eyeballs as they stray outside Nigeria’s media borders.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, does not like this. He wants Nigerian companies to promote their wares to Nigerians on Nigerian television stations.

Mohammed, in the Good Morning Nigeria Show on the Nigeria Television Authority, declared that Nigerian brands that run adverts during foreign matches must compulsorily advertise during Nigerian Premier Football League games, adding that brands that produce their advertising materials abroad will pay a fine of N100,000 each time such adverts run.

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The minister also insisted yesterday that advertising materials promoting Nigerian brands must be directed and authored by Nigerians inside the country. In its reaction, the Heads of Advertising Sectoral Groups (HASG) in Nigeria stated that their members’ place adverts where they are mostly likely to meet consumers.

Association of Nigeria (AAAN), Mrs Bunmi Adeniba, President, Advertisers Association of Nigeria (ADVAN), Mr Femi Adelusi, President, Media Independents Association of Nigeria (MIPAN), Mr Emmanuel Ajufo, President, Outdoor Advertising Association of Nigeria (OAAN), Hajia Sa’am Ibrahim, Chairman, Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (BON), Mr Tade Adekunle, President, Experiential Marketers Association of Nigeria (EXMAN).

HASG said Mohammed needs to understand that advertisers put their advertising investment where the eyeballs of Nigerians are, adding that “the media decisions are driven by the consumers’ interest, passion, inspiration, and aspirations”.

The groups further explained that the world is a global village and that is why international media are widely watched by Nigerians locally and internationally.

“Nigeria-based news channels and contents developed locally are also consumed across many countries beyond our borders, with no special fines and levies imposed on companies who place adverts within them,” it said.

The advertising body agreed that local patronage should be encouraged, but advised that it should happen organically and not forcefully.

“There are many leading advertisers and multinational companies who rationally seek to explore economies of scale in the production of materials, negotiation costs and broadcast of their contents which run across many countries.

“Even with this said, empirical information and trended data show clearly that investment in local broadcast stations still outweighs that of foreign channels.”

The body advised that support from the government would help improve patronage, stressing that “with the right support for the marketing communication industry, content development, local media investment, and media infrastructure development will grow and improve organically.

“The HASG as a body made up of advertisers, advertising agencies, media agencies, marketing activation agencies, out-of-home media agencies, and broadcasting company groups, would like the Minister to engage the industry players and practitioners more and explore collaboration on issues like this before making these pronouncements that can significantly impact the industry.

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“Finally, we strongly appeal to the Ministry as well as the National Assembly to engage and involve the professional practitioners of the various sectors of the marketing communications industry in the conversations on policies at the point of ideation, formulation, and development of these policies.

“This is the best pathway to progressive and implementable legislation of policies and initiatives that will improve the well-being of the industry and Nigerians. The ministry and the communication industry in Nigeria can benefit more from working together and in addressing the key issues concerning the development of marketing, advertising and sponsorships in Nigeria when the capability and expertise of the professional players are leveraged on.”

The Minister of Information’s move to impose fines on adverts placed in foreign media reflects Nigeria’s government tendency to resort to coercion and appeals to patriotism while refusing to recognize or take steps to initiate reforms which could achieve its goals. Commentators have long called for the running of sports associations such as the Nigerian Football Federation (NFA) without government interference and funding. This is expected to boost the quality of the local league and the flowing of funding into it through increased viewership and thus greater advertising spend and fees for broadcasting rights.

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