TV ads suck

There is one thing that makes me cringe every day – Nigerian TV commercials.

Consider exhibit A

Now see a similar Television commercial, for the same product, from another country.

Simple. Creative. Classy.

Seems like it was done on another planet right? I actually find it impossible to believe it’s the same product that’s being advertised. And this isn’t a one-off event. It happens a lot.

So, let me ask the question on everyone’s mind. What the heck is going on? Why can’t Nigerian ad agencies churn out mentally challenging, emotionally charged 30-60 second commercials?

I’ll tell you why. Because the people who own the product are scared. So they play it safe.

They are afraid Nigerians are too intellectually limited that they won’t be able to grasp high concept, really creative commercials.

I know you’re thinking exactly what I thought when I first heard this – this racism stuff hasn’t stopped.

But then I began to rationalize. It’s difficult to really blame anybody for playing it safe. After all, if you have a product for sale, you’re not really looking for awards, you need sales. Well, same applies here. An advert costs millions of cash and people going “Aww, that’s so cool” will not affect the bottomline.

That’s a fair opinion.

But my argument is, the two are not mutually exclusive. It is possible – not only possible but doable – for commercials to evoke emotion and also deliver the brand message.

I have seen it done over –

and over –

and over again –

To be fair, some of the challenges the advert people face is that Nigeria is a high context culture.

This means that things have to be communicated more explicitly. There is no space for subtlety if you intend to ensure that everybody gets your message. Again, this is a valid point.

But to treat Nigerians like idiots, to the extent that ads like those above get approved and aired on Nigerian TV is just… insulting.

And when you consider the fact that Peak milk’s School Smart commercial is among the best on Nigerian TV right now, the argument above becomes redundant.

What can we do about it? Err… I really don’t know. Hey, I’m not the guy who pretends to have all the answers. I am the guy though, who’s really worried that this crap continues till today. I’d be really happy if anybody could leave suggestions. Trust me, the right people will get your suggestions.



  1. My suggestion: one Nigerian company should take the ‘risk’ of making a highly intellectual advertisement of it’s product. And then see what happens.

  2. Well, I believe some quality measures be put in place. Sometimes, I don’t think the creativity is lacking, it is just the arrangement of it that doesn’t make it look beautiful.

    • It’s a little difficult to regulate ads, especially when it comes to quality control. How far would the regulatory bodies go before veering into censorship territory?

      • yeah yeah I get your point. I wouldn’t know how far regulatory bodies can go but personally I want a 99.95% or a 100% over a mere 55% or 89% and that is the way to go for any Brand who cares to make her face known. So, I would say it is about being subject to Quality of the entire message regardless of what it is. Dig deep and Bring it on.

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