Adelle Onyango and Maina Kageni unveiled as Johnny Walker brand ambassadors ahead of Monaco F1 Grand Prix this Weekend
Adelle Onyango and Maina Kageni unveiled as Johnny Walker brand ambassadors ahead of Monaco F1 Grand Prix this Weekend

The Kenyan entertainment industry is one that ebbs and flows especially when one speaks about the prevalent trends. The one area that is particularly affected by this disparity are artistes.

Many get hot for a short while and then they disappear into the ether. And this aspect might be affecting their endorsement deals with corporate entities. A sad reality indeed -especially when you take into account how much some brand ambassadorial gigs and celebrity endorsement packages pay.

Some brand ambassador jobs are more lucrative than others. The rumoured amount Adelle was paid for her role as brand ambassador to Johnny Walker was a clean million shillings!

That would mean that Maina Kageni who has arguably bigger clout than Adelle would have commanded a much more handsome sum than that from Johnny Walker which had also contracted his services.

Why would I say that? Let me give you a quick list of the radio personalities who have or have been brand ambassadors in the last couple of years:

Adelle Onyango– Johnny Walker, Guinness

Carol Radull- Guinness

Maina Kageni– Johnny Walker, PRC, Tembea Kenya, Chevrolet

Shaffie Weru– Hennesy

Njugush– Pwani Oil

Eric Omondi– OLX Kenya, Dola Flour, Olla.

Jeff Koinange– Tusker Malt

Jalang’o– Hanan, Silverstone airline, Trippy Go Tours Travel

Catherine Kamau– Harpic

Janet Mbugua– Lifebuoy

Mcdonald Mariga– Betin

Victor Wanyama– DSTV 2018 FIFA World Cup ambassador, Chapa Dimba Na Safaricom

Dennis Oliech– Bunson Travel, Betin

DJ MO– Broadways Bread

Dj Shiti– Startimes

Anita Nderu– Uber Kenya

Chef Ali Mandhry– Chevrolet

Below are the artistes and DJs who have been brand ambassadors during that same period:

DJ Joe Mfalme– Skechers

Octopizzo- Film Aid International

Wyre– Sportpesa

Sauti Sol– Chrome Vodka

Size 8– Softcare Diapers

Fena Gitu– DENRI Africa, Marini Naturals

DJ Mo– Broadway

The list is not exhaustive but what it clearly shows is that professional musicians are not doing as well as the other entertainers in the industry.

Why does this happen? I believe many musicians are inconsistent and they release music at irregular intervals. Being a brand ambassador is about being in the spotlight constantly something that many artists only achieve when they release a song, which can be once a year.

But the radio and television presenters and the comedians share one common trait. By dint of their jobs, they are always on our screens or within earshot. That makes it easy for brands to want to use them. They will always provide more value for the buck they spend on them

Some PR experts like Patrick Githinji contend that many artists are difficult to work with and lack the professionalism required to be effective brand ambassadors, so they are only used for events and concerts.

When I spoke to Shaffie Weru he also echoed the sentiment given by the PR expert. He said:

Here at Radio Africa, they manage our brands. They help us in marketing ourselves. We are professionals that are handling big brands on a day to day basis. This means we are able to be consistent with the work we do.

He added:

The musicians are not disciplined and this means that a company cannot put their full faith in them to push their brand successfully. We are the safe bet that the companies are using. Even my job as Hennessy brand ambassador in Kenya is because I am reliable and I get the job done.

The Kenyan entertainment industry survives off of advertising. Kenya has the largest radio advertising budget in East and Central Africa and the 14th largest in the world.

And it is set to grow by 8% in 2021 according to a report by PWC. The question one has to ask is whether the musicians will see the signs and try to improve their marketability?

But musicians aren’t the only ones losing the endorsements to the comedians, social media influencers are also losing out. Some of the biggest social media influencers in this country are:

On Instagram

  • Joe Muchiri
  • Huddah Monroe
  • Vera Sidika
  • Seth Gor
  • ThisisEss
  • Silvia Njoki
  • Joy kendi
  • Miss Mandi
  • Mutua Matheka

On Twitter

  • Robert Alai
  • Xtian Dela
  • Cyprian Nyakundi
  • Andrew Kibe
  • Brian Mbunde
  • Caroline Spenser
  • RamzZy
  • Gathara
  • Owaahh
  • KinyanBoy
  • ItsMutai
  • MediaMK
  • iwateba
  • LencerB
  • Kaluhi’s Kitchen
  • AishaWanjiku
  • Mwirigi
  • Victor Matara
  • RookieKE
  • AkenyanGirl
  • FionaTheArtist
  • Droid254
  • Stephen Musyoka
  • Lord Gichohi
  • Mwalimu Rachael
  • Zawadi Nyongo
  • Soko Analyst
  • Kinanga Davis
  • Queen Gathoni
  • Chief Kariuki
  • Dr. Paula Kahumbu
  • Bonface Mwangi

On Facebook

  • Jaymo Ule Msee
  • Ciku Muiruri
  • Rita Oyier
  • Pauline Njoroge
  • Dennis Itumbi
  • Philip Etemesi
  • Wanja Kavegi
  • Lucia Musau
  • Israel Robert Burale
  • Steve Muriuki
  • Jane Mukami
  • Seth Odongo
  • Henry De sagu
  • Wahome Thuku
  • Propesa
  • Andrew Kibe

Even in this area that was burgeoning a few years ago, the squeeze is being felt. Why? The biggest reason is that brands and marketers are not only looking for a huge social media following but also the type of user engagement that your page can get.

This has been the trend the last few months as the even here brands are becoming wary of using the influencers.

The social media influencers normally have a huge following online but does it translate to audience engagement? The research in the field is that the advertisers’ money would best be used with the radio personalities than with the influencers.

When we spoke to The Star business team, an explanation for the waning fortunes of the social media influencers was explained. The explanation was very straightforward. They were not bringing in the value for the money they were being paid.

The recent Twitter purge had some of these big social media names lose huge numbers of followers. The cleanup was conducted between Monday, 9 July, and Friday, July 13, and among the biggest casualties were famous politicians and social media influencers.

Global giants like Unilever used about 820 billion shillings in social media advertising last year. In Kenya, they spent close to 2 billion shillings. The fact that some of the influencers they have been using had hoax followers will put a damper on many other brands using them.

Cyprian Nyakundi and Christian Dela are among the social media promoters in the country who suffered a major loss of at least 500,000 followers from their accounts.

Unilever East Africa Chief Executive Justin Apsey said the move to drop the influencers using unscrupulous means to amass big numbers of followers would enhance transparency. He said:

With this in mind, a mission to build purposeful brands that create a bright future for all East African households, Unilever has decided to lead the way in announcing commitments to support and maintain the authenticity and trust of influencer marketing.

He, however, stated social media could not be ignored as a strategic marketing tool especially during this time when most communication in the country had transitioned and become cyber-based.

Kenya has one of the most vibrant digital arenas globally with an Internet entrance rate of over 80%.

What can be done to remedy this situation for the musicians missing out on this huge endorsement deals?

First: Hire a professional to help you organize and get your brand out there. The best company for this would be a PR firm to handle and manage the artiste’s image.

Two: They should aim to be more visible. Constantly try and keep themselves in the limelight the way Akothee and Willy Paul are so adept at doing. Social media is important for this. This makes people care about the artist and thus what they are doing/promoting.

Take a look at how popular Otile Brown’s new song has been doing on social media. The song called “Baby Love” came out to rave reviews and even bigger viral views. This was after a concerted effort by the two to self-promote on their respective social media pages.

They constantly posted on social media about their relationship and had many Kenyans on tenterhooks.

Three: They should be as professional as can be. They should look at the job as if their lives depend on it. A motivated and easy to work with celeb will get more repeat jobs as the entertainment industry rewards consistency and class.

That means the musician should avoid controversy if the brand you promote has a clean-cut image to protect.

Can our musicians follow these 3 easy to follow steps? yes, they can. Can they as a collective change the opinions of brands about them?

I think they can. Rome was not built in a day. People are forced to adapt and they most certainly will. They will look at fellow artists Nyashinki and Sauti Sol enjoying all that money from Songa and Safaricom and ask themselves why not me?

And that answer is staring at them in the mirror. Also, be sure to click on the links highlighted in blue to get more related stories.

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