When A Brand Means One Thing, But Says Another

I’m not a suit person. But when I slip into one, I like to feel suave. But I can only feel so if those around me think that I am suave. And I can only be sure if that girl that I meet on an uptown street in Nairobi has that look in her eyes that says: I want to feel your pecks through that suit. And the guy she is with has a different look that says: I want to be in that suit to get the look my girl is giving you. Or I will drag you along the kerb if you continue walking in my girls’ line of sight (read if she continues wanting to reach out and touch me).

man of the world

Ill fitted man of the world

Now that you know how I feel in a suit, every other dude should feel the same way and make the same impression. The same reason why I feel that brands selling these clothing items that define a man should impress upon the potential customers. Any communication put out should compel me towards wanting to walk into the store, and walk out with an elegant tailored fit- feeling that the suit I just bought is worth more than you actually got it for- going by the way it looks on you, not by the way it looks on the hanger.

While a man’s suit is made to fit a standard form, very few men can slip into a ready-made suit and find that it needs no alterations. So when this billboard blocked my line of sight, I cringed Continue reading


A Tot A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

I was at home (my mum’s) over the weekend. It was food galore. The other highlight of the weekend was when an advert ran on TV about healthy drinks. We are used to juice and water being advertised as healthy drinks, probably because they have some nutrients that we think our bodies need or require to keep away situations like marasmus and beriberi, and for girls to get smoother, glowing skin.

This noteworthy advert caught my eye, and at the same time plucked my mum’s ears. You see, it was about an alcoholic drinks brewer claiming to care about the health and plight of those get inebriated. They thought long and hard (with sober minds) produced a healthy vodka, which is ready to drink. It was at this moment that mother exclaimed: Ngai, atí vodika ní helothy? Loosely translated: Good Lord! How can vodka be healthy?

I’ll try to think here like the advertiser, Keroche Breweries, and what might have been going on in their healthy, sober minds Continue reading

Somebody Slap Me With A Fresh-Fried Fish

The other day, I placed my finger on something. Something that had been bothering me. Bothering me so much so that I set on a quest- an oily quest, much akin to that of Sinbad out in the sea.

You see, there is this kind of enchanted vegetable oil that is full of pheromones. Don’t take it for granted, because it can also induce hallucinations. At first, upon opening the kibuyu, one’s senses become heightened. Vegetables become brighter and multicolored. You can hear the flame on the gas cooker hiss. And because it is highly cholesterol free, the sizzling of fried fish and prawns actually sounds less fattening and less heart ‘attacky.’

Then your eyes dilate. Continue reading

Brands that Know People, And Those That Don’t

There are some brands that need to have their noses pinched, and told to know people. I mean, how do they expect to compete with the other ‘elite’ brands that are endorsed by professional bodies?

Allow me to trace my steps back to the cause of my chagrin with these ‘elite’ brands that claim to know people. Product endorsement comes in many ways- from celebrities claiming how best deodorants keep them dry all day to past users of a product swearing by their pinkies how a certain soap got them a boyfriend or a job simply because their skins got fairer.  I have no bone to pick with this kind of endorsement- I mean, all they seek to take advantage of is how the consumer connects with the celebrity or a user they relate to with regard to their depicted way of life.

Endorsement from professional bodies is what unsettles me. The consumer places his complete trust to professional bodies such as those in the medical and cosmetic fields, foods and beverage among others. These bodies act as consumer watchdogs and are supposed to give an unbiased platform Continue reading

It’s Official: If Germs Don’t Run Our Lives, Who Will?

A story is told of the boy who cried wolf. He was a herds boy (or so I was told) and on a few occasions (like three of them), he raised an alarm that there was a wolf preying on his father’s herd of sheep. On these occasions, the villagers came out in droves to rescue him and the sheep- but alas, there was no wolf in sight. Vexed, they went back home lamenting, asking themselves loudly in harsh tones why the boy would do such a thing. So the story goes, that when the boy cried out wolf again, the villagers paid no attention and they continued doing their thing- roasting maize, peeling potatoes, sipping way from their beer horns and such other things that villagers are engaged in. It happened that on this particular occasion, a wolf had indeed been spotted by the crier, and no one was around to help the silly lad. Suffice to say, the story had a sad ending, and the incident was used to caution other villagers who tried to portray wolf crying tendencies.

Now that I have taught my fellow urbanites a valuable lesson from the village, I think I should get to my next point. You see, it is the urbanites who are targeted by advertisers I’d like to call the wolf. These wolves have discovered that if they preyed on your sense of fear, then you will always be hiding behind their products. These wolves push medicated soaps to us. Think about it- growing up, germs still existed. Now we are told, that when our kids go out to play, germs are preying on them immediately they step out of the house, so when they come back home, they need to be sanitized. If we listened to these wolves hard, we’d have cattle dips for bathrooms- what with the dire need to tackle 99%of germs 24/7 and cleanse our kids. Is it a coincidence that the wolf crier was a boy, and so are all the kids in such adverts?

Here is a dossier on these wolves.

Lifebuoy. They tell of 10 infection causing germs. They have chosen Yvonne Chaka Chaka to endorse the soap as an ordinary mum, who is also a renowned vocal artiste who happens to know about some 10 germs. Among these germs we are told, there are those that cause diarrhea, dysentery, eye infection etc. And they each have a day after the other to infect the kid. Anyway, it so happens then, that Lifebuoy can eliminate these 10 germs, and that you should be afraid, Continue reading

Stripping & Strategic Use Of Space For Maximum Visual Impact

Newspapers, magazines and the general print medium are among the most used form of advertising. Thing is, with the new/digital media creeping into the print domain, I can only hope to see more strategy in how ads are executed on print. Last month when CBA launched its US Dollar currency credit card the placement of the advert to introduce it was poorly placed and not thought out, especially with regard to the audience of the Money pull out magazine from Thursday’s Daily Nation. To avoid being redundant see the post here

The long and short of it? The pullout is targeted at SME owners, and stories carried in the pullout, more so the cover story, was about how SME’s face an uphill task getting credit from banks. Now, how do you go and tell the same audience that you have a US dollar credit card! Ironic right? It’s like rolling up your Range Rover Sport’s tinted windows when a street urchin approaches you in traffic for him to see his own reflection.

So the other day I saw a series of strip ads by Bank of Africa (as shown below).

This strategy of using a series of strips reminded me of those done by Cooperative Bank first I believe, when they embarked on opening branches in different towns (see image below). The strips are placed in a manner such that, instead of  Continue reading

Cry, The Beloved Last-Minuter


Oh my, the last-minuter (noun: a person who literally waits till the last minute to do something). Allow me to recount a story of a last-minuter I know. For reasons of anonymity and best practices, I’ll refer to him as the Dreadlocked One. Now Dreadlocked is someone you’d call an incorrigible last-minuter.

Having lunch with him is grueling- when everyone else is getting up to go back to the office; Dreadlocked is hurriedly trying to gobble up his dollop of Ugali. When he okoas jahazi (Safaricom’s service that allows pre paid customers to access airtime on credit and pay later), Dreadlocked waits for an SMS reminder to pay back in due time- suffice to say he pays late, and ends up getting banned from the service for a period of 30 days.

So do last-minuters like Dreadlocked have a chance at salvation? Continue reading

Look! Up in the Sky: It’s a bird. A Paper Bag. A Timeline

True story- You’re not ready for Timeline. When the Facebook Timeline was introduced, so many naïve, euphoric and easily swayed Facebook users rushed in to get it. In my head, I could hear the UB40 lead singer chime a familiar adage- only fools rush in. And so I sat back. Waiting for the torrent of complaints and curses from my friends who had flown into the Timeline web of showing how they are ‘with it’.

I could not understand why, just a few years back, friends were up in arms protesting on what was then called the ‘new Facebook look’. Now, if I had a 20 bob coin for every person I heard asking how they would revert back to the old version after changing to Timeline, I’d be swimming in then like Donald Duck Continue reading

Serendipity: Clean Water Straight From Dry Taps

While writing about Keringet’s new eco friendly bottle, I had a flashback on a campaign by Nairobi Water Company. And then over the weekend- I see Cecilia Mwangi (Miss World Kenya 2005) again endorsing how clean some water from a tap is. Do I call this a coincidence or serendipity? (Well, I just had to use the latter word for the sake of one of my colleagues)

But first, allow me to mention something to do with the water drinking habits of Kenyans. They (Kenyans) have this notion that drinking water from a branded bottle or a fancy water bottle that looks like a gadget from star wars is classy. If my observation here is far fetched- then someone explain to me why our dear ladies can’t keep these bottles in their bags; do they have to walk around with them as accessories? And what’s with them being luminously colored? As for the rest of us, we only seem Continue reading

When A Bank LOL’s and Smugly Smiles at You

The Commercial Bank of Africa unveiled its new look, some time in October 2011. I will spare the details of the rebrand since much has been said about it- including the most confusing television advert – how does time for more (their positioning line) tie up to the kid going through school and his absentee dad building an empire. Anyone with insights can share them since my colleagues too are still scratching their heads (apart from the one with dreadlocks). An article by Kalgas Time for more: lessons for non-profits on rebranding from CBA tried to explain it, but all I heard was not close to what the ad said.

Nevertheless, I still give a SquaredFactor thumbs up to how the campaign was executed- right from the teaser adverts to the online campaign. The rebrand culminated in the bank’s efforts as it sought to upgrade products and services to meet the needs of its personal, corporate and SME customer segments.

So yesterday, CBA launched a US Dollar currency credit card and its advert in the Daily Nation today had me crumpling the paper up. Continue reading