Why Nigerian Ads should prepare for a socially conscious future

Over the last 20 years, some TV commercials have carved a niche for themselves in the hearts and minds of the Nigerian populace. Melodious tunes have become long standing tracks in memories, and their funny scenes still bring laughter and nostalgia over a decade since they were aired.

In the race to sell a product, advertising agencies often try to whip up the holy grail between the new introduction and the familiar, relatable content in an effort to become a household name or maintain its position on the shelf. Commercials like that of Gulder (Get The Taster) can easily be remembered. The commercial saw most of the country held in suspense each time the king in the Roman-themed ad was about to react to his taster drinking too much of the drink he was just supposed to taste.

Then another commercial dating back to the early days of television by the cement company Bagco, birthed the phrase “We No Go Gree” which grew on Nigerians in a spectacular way. Even though few may realise where this chant emanated from, it has established itself as a national protest song in the heart of almost every Nigerian.

The one that took the cake, though, was Papilo, a commercial by Peak Milk. Those who watched this ad in their childhood will tell you that this was one of those one minute snippets that inspired you to aspire for greatness and make your family proud. Using a few words and the very relatable, very male childhood routine of football and family, they were able to instill a sense of belonging and pride to family and community.

 Glo’s recent football themed ad produced by SO&U also taps into this, depicting the rhythm and determination that can be found everywhere in Africa, pulsing beneath the surface. From the Maasai tribe of Kenya to the Atilogwu dancers of Eastern Nigeria, the commercial plots a thread of awesome transitions of the rhythm and passion that inspires the football game, which is notably relevant during this World Cup season.

Barely a minute long, ads have the power to reflect, reenact and inspire the world around us. And one can definitely feel the energy and expression that the telco tries to portray in their commercial. A lot of these successes can be attributed to the outsourcing of these jobs to the creatives–writers, storytellers, filmmakers–who thrive in these domains, whose job it is to keep up with the times in order to avoid cases like the socially unacceptable ad that was “Meals Taste Better With Dan-Q”.

The advert which tries to introduce a seasoning by the Dangote Group aiming to rival the likes of Maggi and Knorr, portrayed a woman about to get married who was made to go to the market and buy food stuffs to cook for her would-be in-laws. A creative on top of his job would have realised that this advert perpetuates gender stereotypes that are proving hard to repudiate as being a woman does not translate to being tied to the kitchen, and is not a measure for getting married.

Adverts may be that one minute interruption that you hate to see while watching your favourite movie series or soap operas, but with the power of repetition, these snippets have the power to shape our choices and realities. For ads like Glo’s Rhythm, that would be the portrayal of an Africa that is not solely defined by negative stereotypes. As such, it is also our responsibility to stay on the alert for those which continue to perpetuate old ways of thinking. A lot of which can be avoided by just hiring those people well worth the money being offered. And of course, by hiring more women too.