Copy – Right!

Posted on 05/05/2012

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Copy – Right!

Much has been said about today’s fallen standards of moral uprightness. We record horrendous results in all our national and external examination grades, despite the massive leaks and cheating. The Yahooligans have since cloned their art, creating a more deadly twin. Nigerians are being deported daily from overseas for all kinds of fraudulent activity. Corruption is Nigeria. Get rich now is the new anthem. Sons are disobeying fathers. Even the girls are not smiling!

Before we lose all moral value, the media has an enormous task to play by creating programming, producing jingles, using movies, plays and drama productions to spread the need, essentials and importance of nationhood and responsibility. Creating mini-series, crafting news items and interviews around stories that enhance the essence of nationality, brotherhood and morality. The media – all media, radio, television, print, new media outlets like websites, online news services, gossip rags and blogs, targeted at the Nigerian audience must be morally obliged to be bound by a sense of responsibility. Either by policy, or by self imposition, or by force!

There’s an on-running Airtel radio commercial, perhaps also on universal media, titled “Fast Is An Attitude” that touts the efficacy of the company’s internet browsing speed. The copywriter’s ‘Grand Prix’ speed attributes were very superfluous, but one particular line unnerved me. It went: “At 24, you know you are already too late in earning that first million.” A rather inane statement like that cannot help the already dire Nigerian situation. Bharti Airtel, by employing a commercial advertisement with such a “get rich quick” attribute is simply telling Nigerian youth that diligence, learning, education, mentorship, tradition, hard work, perseverance, perfection and improvement are irrelevant and unimportant. The folks at Bharti Airtel are also telling Nigerian youth to ignore their parents’ admonitions; to continue disobeying constituted authority; to indulge in more scams and nefarious activities, because they have been told that at 24, they would be too old to become millionaires!

The phone networks are in a cut-throat battle with each other. They are in a mad rush to see who gets to space first. That does not mean that because they have this massive brawl over gigabytes and speed, they should lose all moral responsibility, ride slipshod over our sensibilities, and burn us all out at take off! By now some agency whizz kid must think he’s penned some superb copy? Tush! He gets no awards for irresponsibility and insensitivity. I should be demanding that this utterly irresponsible commercial is withdrawn off the airwaves immediately. The wise thing really, would be to expunge the offensive portions before it can be returned – if it deserves any return, at all! A reprimand would be in order. Obviously Bharti did not do enough market research to get the right consumer insight. Sometimes we wonder why they all earn those fat salaries!

This is where National policy objectives become relevant. As a nation, are we operating under the right media objectives? Are our nationalistic ideals being met? Can we beat out chests, in the affirmative that we have a policy in place that takes care of both individual requirements and national needs? How involved are the agencies responsible for national orientation and youth development in all this. What about the advertising bodies? AAPN and APCON? Did this particular advert pass right under their noses? Do they include monitoring services among their daily functions?

I wish I could answer all these questions myself. Hopefully somebody high up enough will and take some decisions soon, and withdraw this campaign, totally, from radio and billboard – before all our kids begin to feel that they are failures, at 24!

God’s guidance.

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