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.

3 thoughts on “The state of Kenyan advertising…are international advertising agencies better than local ones?

  1. Great read – I agree that there are nuggets of brilliance here at home, my issue (personal opinion) is that alot of the times these gems of brilliance lie with the ad-men who are in “small agencies”, or in assisting roles in larger agencies and their CD’s or AD’s don’t take time to hear an idea from a “junior” staff. I say this because I’ve seen it more than once.

    The multi-nationals or large local companies don’t give these small agencies the light of day so the great ideas end up remaining in someones head..

    I honestly don’t have an answer to how to change this.. Thoughts?

    • I often feel like Multi-nationals don’t try or use a one size fits all approach to solving marketing communication problems. But maybe because im on the outside looking in. I agree with you CD’s and AD’s sometimes don’t have time for brilliant ideas from junior staff and so they make sure they dismiss those ideas without having a good think through them. Is there a way client can foster a culture of idea generation from their agency creative team? I have actually met clients who insist on finding out who their agency team is all the way to the most junior person.

      Maybe multi-nationals should try out smaller agencies by giving them a project brief and finding out how they are able to effectively answer the brief. I mean that how we were able to get on the roster of a certain multinational who is currently our client.

  2. Thanks for the mention – did the design for Bankika. I’m not sure what brings about these big decisions but in a parched economy like this – any UK firm would be happy for new work. However – KCB and Kenya Airways need to be more resourceful, good local talent exists – pls point them in our direction,

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