Cultural Reflections and the Role of Advertising in the Socio-Economic and National Development of Nigeria
|Author: ||Alozie, Emmanuel C.|
Few studies have examined the cultural reflections and the role of advertising in the national development of Nigerian or other African countries. This study, which explored the meaning of development, the debate on the role of culture and mass media on social modernization, African political economy as well as Nigerian history, politics, economic and communication development efforts, serves as an attempt to bridge that gulf. The study focused on the role of advertising in the process of social mobilization and modernization in Nigeria by examining the cultural reflections, the nature and characteristics of the messages, and the values and symbols conveyed in Nigerian mass media advertisements. In order to accomplish the task, the study used content and ideological analyses to analyze 500-plus advertisements published or aired in the last quarter of 1998 and the first quarter of 1999.
The study’s findings demonstrated the difficulty of ascertaining the role of the mass media including advertising on a nation’s social, economic and national development and modernization. However, some of the conclusions drawn from the exploration could be summarized as follows: (1) The Nigerian government as well as native-owned enterprises and public corporations do not use advertising adequately to promote their goods and services; (2) Nigerian advertisers used both Western or traditional African cultural values, but neither of them dominated the other; (3) Developmental themes were found in Nigerian mass media advertisements, but they tended to concentrate on individual instead of group goals as traditional African value system dictates; (4) The nature and target(s) of advertisements in Nigerian mass media demonstrated that the Nigerian economy is distorted and underdeveloped; (5) The underdeveloped nature is clearly demonstrated because the majority of consumer products and services advertised in Nigeria were of foreign origin and mostly non-essential; (6) The products advertised often targeted the elites because the Nigerian masses could not afford them; (7) Financial advertisements were the most dominant products and services of Nigerian origin; (80 Broadcast advertisements seemed to be more “democratic” than print advertisements because they promoted more products and services that the average Nigerian could afford.
This study demonstrated that advertising holds both promises and problems for Nigerian economic and social development. Its promises deal with its ability to relay useful information on social issues and on the availability of goods and services to the masses. On the other hand, the problems deal with its ability to promote unfair competition, consumerism, lack of interest in social matters, and immoral attitudes, which could distort the economy or undermine traditional values and national economy. However, advertising should be encouraged, not discouraged. It could be monitored by practitioners and government officials in order to make the medium an effective vehicle for promoting goods and services as well as values that would assist the socioeconomic development of Nigeria. Advertising remains an important vehicle for the various tiers of Nigerian government to use for promoting their services and for explaining national issues in order to promote national integration and the social welfare of the masses.
The use of advertising to promote socioeconomic development could be achieved by adopting “developmental advertising.” The idea calls for the incorporation of relevant cultural values and developmental themes in product and service advertisements by the private and public sectors. The goal is to help public corporations and businesses in marketing their products and services, thus enabling Nigeria’s economic and social growth. It could assist Nigerians to adopt useful modernization habits.
“In this remarkable study, Emmanuel C. Alozie has attempted to explore the role of advertising in the national and economic development of Nigeria. Examining this role through a combination of quantitative content analysis and critical cultural methods, he has pursued a number of basic research questions. For example, one question asks: What proportion of the advertisements in Nigerian mass media is directed to business entities as opposed to ordinary consumers? The answer he provides presents an interesting perspective on advertising’s role. His research also found that most ads were product related, and less than a third of the ads were related to service, one indication of the relative underdevelopment of the economy. Ads also promoted largely nonessential products and services to the tune of 65%. This study found no support for the assumption that in a resource-rich developing country like Nigeria, the multi-tiered government agencies would provide a major share of the media advertising. In reality, only a tiny proportion (about 5%) actually came from government sources, the rest of the advertising was provided by the national and multinational corporations. Alozie also found that Nigerian sponsors tend to promote goods of foreign origin over those of Nigerian derivative. Overall, he found that less than half the products and services advertised (42%) were of Nigerian origin, with much of the products nonessential in nature. ...Alozie’s study has ventured into virgin scholarly territory. Even though many scholars and researchers have contributed to the sizeable existing literature on development, few have examined advertising as a meaningful means of communication for developmental messages and values. Through his study, Alozie has attempted to fill this void. Students and scholars with an interest in the media of developing nations will find the articulation of the various theories concerning socio-economic development quite stimulating. But more importantly, by answering a range of significant questions about the nature and types of advertising messages published or aired in the Nigerian mass media, discussing what themes and values they contain, and how relevant they are or influence the developmental goals of the nation, the author offers a study that is useful, insightful and rewarding.” – Dr. Mazharul Haque, Professor, The University of Southern Mississippi
“As an educator in the field of international communication, I often have wished that more research on transnational advertising, particularly in emerging societies, would be available for use in my upper-level undergraduate and graduate-level courses. Now, with professor Alozie’s new study of the nature and role of advertising in the process of Nigerian social mobilization and development, it seems that I at last have some material that bridges that gap. His study does an excellent job on several fronts. It provides a useful and necessary review of the history, politics and economic development of Nigeria and other African countries. ...The results of his study, of course, provide the focus for a healthy debate on the merits (or lack of) of not only foreign advertisers and their products in such societies but also of the economic, political, and social inequities in Nigeria and other nation-states that are dominated by elites and their government collaborators. Ultimately, the questions raised by such research are those that deal with ethics and social justice. And, that is perhaps the most important lesson for my students to learn.” – Dr. Donn J. Tilson, APR, Fellow PRSA, Associate Professor, Advertising and Public Relations, University of Miami
“Emmanuel C. Alozie explores the role that communication and mass media can, and should play in helping the process of national integration, modernization and the economic and social development of Africa, more specifically of Nigeria (and possibly other nations in a similar stage of development). Such use of mass media should go beyond just being informational, and needs to be well planned, coordinated and strategically implemented, in order to be effective. Systematic studies on how best to achieve this in African nations are very scarce, and are sorely needed. The strategic thrust of the present study is to explore the extent of developmental themes and values employed in Nigerian mass media, using content and ideological analysis. ...A variety of target audiences will benefit from the material presented in this book. ... On the whole, the book presents a comprehensive body of work, detailing the economic, political and social development of Nigeria, and contributing substantively to the sparsely researched area of the role and extent of developmental communications and advertising in Nigeria.” – Dr. Anuradha Venkateswaran, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Wilberforce University
Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
2. Nigeria: Overview and History
3. Communications in Nigeria
4. Mass Media and Nation Development: An Ongoing Debate
5. Advertising’s Role in National Development
6. Theories of Modernization/Development
7. The Structure of Advertising in Nigerian Mass Media
8. The Mediation of Meaning In Nigerian Mass Media Advertising
9. Summary, Discussion, and Conclusion