Advertising, Branding: Why all the fuss?
After identifying the target audience, the advertising agency and the client then decide on the medium to relay the message. The channels of communication include radio, television, outdoor advertising, which is popularly known as billboards, the Internet or print (magazines, newspapers and posters). In Kenya, Gitao notes that advertising through radio continues to be the most preferred channel, followed by television, print and billboards respectively. “Ninety eight percent of the adverts are through the radio, while print media is considered to be the most expensive channel to use,” she adds. “However, an advertising agency does not have control over a client’s budget as much as we advise them on how and where to place the advert,” Gitao says. On the other hand, outdoor advertising, which continues to be widely used in the country, especially along major and busy roads and highways, is seen by advertisers as the best alternative as it is openly and vividly displayed.
“Billboards are and should only be used as a support medium,” Gitao advises. She explains that new market entrants should not attempt to use outdoor advertising as their only channel, but big, established brands could opt for billboards.
Apart from being affordable for both small and big advertisers, the other advantage of billboards is the fact that the message is constantly reinforced. However, lack of regulation in outdoor advertising is now raising concern in several quarters. “We are seeing a situation where advertisers are erecting billboards on any available piece of land, to the extent of even cutting down trees to create space for the billboards,” she laments.
While the advertising industry’s self- regulatory body, Advertising Practitioners Association (APA) can do little about outdoor advertising, Gitao says the Nairobi City Council as well as other municipal councils in other towns should regulate this kind of clutter. On the other hand, Kenya has not fully embraced online advertising due to the low penetration of the Internet and computers in the country, especially in semi-urban and rural areas.
Gitao singles out www.nationmedia.com and www.eastandard.net as the two most preferred websites for advertisers. “Very few clients opt for online advertising as it is not recommended for everyday brands,” she reveals. “The concept of advertising is to connect to the consumer’s heart and not the mind.” That is why before creating an advertisement, Gitao affirms that both the client and the advertising agency should understand the consumer’s insight. The process of creating an advertisement starts with identifying the problem, which comes in form of a short brief, for example, is the company (client) experiencing low sales or launching a new product? At this point, the client and the agency will decide on how to go about solving the problem. The agency will thereafter spend a few days in understanding consumer insight. Once the two tasks have been completed, the agency’s client service/creative team is supposed to create an idea based on the target audience with a hidden message to solve the problem. Thereafter the proposition is brought to life from paper.
Gitao says the main challenge while converting an idea into an advert is the element of reality, which she describes as the ‘Reason to believe’. Under the APA Code of Advertising Practice and Direct Marketing, first published in April 2003, Gitao says honesty is acknowledged as the main working principle. “The client and the agency should not claim what the brand is not able to do or deliver,” She adds. “This means that a consumer can seek legal action in the case of a misleading claim.” Gitao, who is the current Secretary of APA notes that the Code of Conduct has been prepared and written with assistance from the Law Society of Kenya (LSK). APA meets after every six weeks to review concepts while ensuring that all the set advertising standards protect consumers. Further, all advertisements on sensitive products, including medicine, food products and cosmetics, must get APA approval. This is necessary because of competition among producers of consumer goods and in the past clients would go for exaggerated, misplaced or outright misleading commercials.
Nevertheless, with the Code in place, Gitao notes that infringement by clients remains a problem. She says some Kenyan manufacturers stand accused of confusing consumers by having similar kind of packaging and closely related brand names. Amongst the agencies, there are several of them scrambling for less than 25 big spenders. Gitao discloses that Scangroup is a clear leader in the industry, while the Ayton Young and Rubicam (Y&R) group and Ogilvy and Mather rank second and third respectively. Other notable agencies in Kenya include Red Sky, ZK Advertising, Express Advertising and TACK. Gitao, who was recently appointed General Manager of Y&R, says she will focus on strengthening and developing new and old partnerships with clients.
“I want to make even more of the heritage of partnerships that have been established over the years,” she says. Y&R offers integrated communications solutions and has four other divisions, Silver Bullet Public Relations, Wunderman Direct Marketing, Media Edge and Brand Business strategic consultancy, the division engaged in media strategy, planning and buying. Y&R Group is also present in Ghana, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa; and recently scooped the best networked agency in Africa award. In spite of the concerns in the Kenyan advertising industry, the country is ahead of its neighbours in the region in terms of advertising techniques and style, as well as consumer sophistication.
“The country’s level of advertising and consumer response could be compared to that of South Africa.
Kenyans appreciate and identify with certain brands, thanks to adverts,” Gitao notes. “The expansion of Kenyan agencies into Uganda and Tanzania is a clear sign that the two countries have not fully developed their advertising industries.” -Business in Africa Magazine (East Africa)
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