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THE USE OF IGBO LANGUAGE IN ADVERTISING PRODUCTS IN EASTERN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF ABAKALIKI METROPOLIS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the Study

Advertising is drawing attention to goods and services for the purpose of attracting patronage. The basic aim of the advertiser according to Ebeze (2003) is to sell. Its effectiveness is therefore measured in terms of the volumes of sales it is able to attract or record. To be effective, advertising is expected to be able to attract attention, arouse interests, create a desire and motivate action (Umeogu 2013). When this is the case, the advertisement is said to be persuasive or effective.

Advertising persuasion is rated based on many factors but ultimately language is central to all these factors (Shrimp 2000:3). This is supported by his idea that “of all the elements that characterize a social group and distinguished it from other groups, whether in arts, music, dance, attitude and beliefs, festival behavior etc, the most central is language”. What this means is that the use of an indigenous language is highly necessitated by its indispensability and importance in advertising if a truly effective communication is to take place.

According to Goddart (2002), advertising permeates our daily lives. It has become so ubiquitous that it is generally believed that no product can survive the competitiveness of market forces without it.

Udemmadu (2013) observed that many of the advertisements in Nigeria are done in a foreign language – English which makes them actually alienating. Consequently, the value and essence of the message is hidden from the majority of the target audience. This is because the populace at large has various indigenous languages as their mother tongues. Essentially, there are about 521 indigenous languages spoken in Nigeria (Udemmadu 2013). However, this research work is narrowed to the use of Igbo language which is one of the major languages spoken in Nigeria.

The Igbo language is one of the three major languages in Nigeria. The native Igbo speaking states include: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo. Traces of the Igbo culture and language could also be seen in Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Delta States (Udemmadu 2013). According to Umeogu (2013), the languages of communication in the igbo speaking cities are mainly Igbo and English. However, English language has been given a pride of place in the media houses in Nigeria to the detriment of indigenous languages like Igbo despite the fact that the recipients of the advertisements are chiefly indigenous users.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

Most broadcasters and advertisers tend to use the English language in advertising and broadcasting of products notwithstanding that majority of the indigenes make use of the Igbo language in their daily communications in eastern Nigeria. Again, most television and radio stations do not make proper use of the Igbo language in advertising. Thus, the media houses are guilty of poor communication in Igbo language. Udemmadu (2013) observed that even marketers who prefer to sell their products themselves end up using English language in their advertising. Since majority of the populace are Igbo speakers, the use of foreign languages in advertising will not yield the desired results. Mbagwu (2008) opines that the use of foreign languages in advertising to an audience whose medium of communication is Igbo language invariably leads to the distortion of information thereby thwarting the promotion of sales.

Finally, the few radio and television stations which advertise with the Igbo language rarely pay attention to how fluent the broadcasters and editors are in Igbo language. Competency of language is imperative here for effective communication (Ogwezzy, 2006). Okunna (1999) avers that the economic function of communication is that it brings buyers and sellers together. Thus if the message is not well understood, then advertising as ‘advertere’ (To turn the mind toward) cannot achieve its purpose of turning any mind towards a product or service.  

1.3       Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to:

  1. To determine the importance of advertising in Igbo language.
  2. Examine why advertisers sometimes avoid advertising in Igbo.
  3. Examine the problems posed by the use of Igbo language in advertising.
  4. Suggest ways of encouraging and improving advert in Igbo.

1.4       Research Questions

  1. Why do advertisers avoid advertising products in Igbo?
  2. What are the possible problems encountered in advertising with Igbo?
  3. In what ways could advertising in Igbo be encouraged and improved?

1.5       Significance of the Study

This study will help advertising companies, marketers, government and customers to know the importance of advertising in Igbo. Thus, advertisers who wish to make more sales and promotion in Eastern Nigeria should make use of the findings of this work. For the consumers, they would be able to get the right information, and enhance sales of products and services.

This study will help the general public to understand the intended information from the media houses and also help the wider public to know the available products on sale.

Lastly, Igbo language stands to be promoted and re-valued by its users. This promotion invariably entails the promotion of the people’s economic value, in this way the people stand to get better products and services. They would therefore not be misled by the barriers of poor communication of the foreign language.

1.6       Scope of the Study

This study covers the use of the electronic media which includes television and radio and the print media which include newspapers and magazine adverts in advertising products and services in

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