Killing the NIC Move Brand and why i think it was a bad idea…

NIC was incorporated in Kenya on 29th September 1959, when Standard Bank Limited and Mercantile Credit Company Limited (Mercantile) -both based in the United Kingdom – jointly formed the company. The company was amongst the first non-bank financial institutions to provide hire purchase and installment credit finance facilities in Kenya.
NIC became a public company in 1971 and is currently quoted on the Nairobi Stock Exchange with approximately 22,000 shareholders. Barclays Bank of Kenya Limited acquired 51% of NIC’s total shares through the acquisition of Mercantile in the 1970s and Standard’s shareholding in NIC in the 1980s. Between 1993 and 1996, BBK divested its shares, selling 38% of its shares to the public in 1994, and the remaining 20% in 1996 to the First Chartered Securities Group (FCS).

In the local market NIC Bank was very well known as the Asset Financing Bank which had be a large piece of thier business for over 30 years. As a second tier bank NIC was doing quite well but they needed to enter the retail market in which they were not quite prominent and needed to enter in a big way. This led to the revolutionary new product called Move…

i loved Move due to many different factors…

It was a banking product like no other totally cutting edge, they had some funky banking halls, banking after hours was a breeze, the account came at a flat fee with quite a number of different things provided. i also loved the idea of being able to deposit money (cash/cheque) via an ATM but it was the after hours banking in a setting much unlike a banking hall that was so easy and matched my style.

Move launched with a very clever campaign taking a swipe at all other banks that opened until 3pm urging people to move to NIC Move which opened from 8am-8pm. the campaign done by TBWA/Creative Business was quite revolutionary and very befitting of a revolutionary product like MOVE. With its quirky colours and new approach to banking Move become successful overshadowing the mother brand NIC bank.

I do happen to think that was a good problem, i mean how many other brands can stand up and say they have encountered a problem like this? in my opinion i would have found a way to make the mother brand more prominent on all Move communication and use it as the retail banking wing of NIC bank. I would then have added NIC Securities and Insurance under Move and cross sell different products.

NIC Bank took a different approach by killing the Move brand and making the different Move Centres into NIC Bank retail Centres. Out went the innovative approach to banking and bank to the old tried and tested but very boring way of banking. Now only selected branches of NIC bank open past 4 and the last one closes at 7pm on weekdays with the same branches closing at 4pm on Saturday and none opens on Sunday’s.

I think NIC Bank squandered an opportunity to be one of Kenya’s most innovative and forward looking banks blazing the trail in retail banking. I do understand that being a pioneer or should i say travelling the road less travelled might seem quite risky, but if its not broke why fix it?

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The state of Kenyan advertising…are international advertising agencies better than local ones?

Last week I was having an interesting conversation with a colleague about Kenya’s advertising industry and the impending award of 2 of the biggest local advertising accounts to foreign agencies. The conversation centered on KCB and Kenya Airways who as rumour may have it are considering awarding their advertising accounts to foreign(read)British agencies. Now i actually have no issue with international agencies my only question is does it mean local agencies have been unable to fulfil clients expectations? Does it mean local agencies no longer have good creative solutions to solve clients marketing problems in the region and possibly in Africa?

Now this route has been tried and tested with the Tusker account for a period of time having been awarded to AMV BBDO.Im not sure where that got the brand but i do remember the sanitized TV ad that was born out of that marriage that was to help drive Tusker’s sales in Africa. Im not sure that ad achieved much. As a Kenyan advertising professional i felt Tusker had lost thier way.

So would this be the direction KCB & Kenya Airways want to head in? In my opinion i think that would be very ill advised as those agencies would be far removed from the reality onground. How is an agency in the UK expected to react fast and in a timely manner to local competition? How will they even know the market insights and the psychographics of the target audiences?

Kenya has a lot of talented advertising professionals and more than the 12 advertising agencies listed on APA’s roster. We have a team of brilliant creatives, strategists and admen who can nurture great ideas which everyone else has to stand and take notice. I highly doubt an international agency will be able to create the next Bankika or Member or the next funky KQ campaign. Maybe a little more thought is needed before the decision is made.

My word of advise to KCB & Kenya Airways, search locally, the gem of a creative idea you are looking for is right here in your own backyard.