Only the Vuvuzela to show…

Not much has excited me in the advertising arena for several months. There has probably been too much of “more of the same” and one wonders whether the lack of real competition among the biggest players in East Africa is allowing creative juices to ferment rather than flow. That can be a long debate whose final word will not be easy to come by. What is easy to come by however is the fact that Standard Chartered has outdone itself with the new “here for good” brand messaging. It touches all the right spots – it is emotionally compelling, intellectually engaging and leaves one asking the right questions. Just brilliant!

I recently made the decision to take a break from writing a column in the mainstream media after several years of wracking my brains to write on a topic many saw as an obscure part of marketing and an irrelevant part of business. Well, close to ten years later I pored through the pages of Marketing Africa and was encouraged to see that strategic brand has not moved not just to being relevant to markers but also an agenda item for business itself. A wave has certainly swept through and the result is a more brand led business culture in East Africa. Thankfully, the smile that spread across my face as I pored through Marketing Africa will be a hard one to wipe off.

East Africa is bracing itself for another “battle of the brands”. The entry of Bharti Airtel into the fray of the telecoms sector will be an interesting one to watch. Safaricom is firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of the Kenyan consumer and will be a tough one to nudge, let along beat. As mentioned before in a previous blog post, the issue is not price, it is not the strength of the network, interconnection or the new industry pet project, number portability. The issue is creating a relationship with consumers. The brand that does this best be the leader. Anything else is really a hygiene factor.

New media continues to intrigue. The lack of focus and even ignorance shown by brands as regards new media continues to baffle. Anybody over thirty is an old consumer and concentrating on their media habits may be equivalent to a history lesson which describes the water your brand is drowning in. The new consumer is in high school, college or is early in their careers and I dare say that to many of them, “old media” died of old age. Ignoring old media may not kill your brand but ignoring new media will certainly ensure your brand does not live to see old age. New media is no longer a mere touch point, it is an influential factor in the development, management and consumption of brands. If you are old school as a brand custodian, your consumers of the present and future are not you.

Finally, the World Cup has come to an end. For me, one thing happened – the vuvuzela. That noise is still buzzing in my ears!

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