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When will regional brands release digital marketing’s blindfold?

Category: Advertising in Africa,africa,internet marketing,Mobile phone applications

Date: August 1, 2012

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Kenya has committed itself to beating the deadline to migrate its TV broadcasting signals from analogue to digital by three years: by the end of 2012, instead of the universally agreed upon deadline of 2015, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya.

According to the CCK, some advantages that Kenyans will enjoy because of switching to digital broadcasting  include: “improved reception quality, a variety of enhanced broadcasting applications, multimedia data and entertainment services…” Even the TV ad urging those Kenyans who own analogue TVs to buy set-top boxes to enable them receive digital signals has earned itself a high recall value according to Spot On.

The CCK deserves praise for realising and rooting for digital’s adoption. But, what about brands, especially FMCG ones in Kenya? (and by extension, in the East African Community?). How come no CEO has announced that advertising on the internet will get a healthy slice of their marketing budgets by say, for lack of a better year, 2030? How come no marketing communications tender bid documents spell out that advertising on the internet will be part of the message platforms and that a potential agency of advertising should possess verifiable success in this area?

No, advertising on the internet doesn’t mean building a website, slapping products on it and a contact email beginning with ‘info@…’  It doesn’t mean opening Facebook and Twitter pages and then converting them to be your brand’s ‘special offers’ matatus. It doesn’t mean opening a YouTube channel and turning it into an archive for your TV ads.

Marketing in Africa nowadays, especially advertising in the internet, is about engagement and none is executing it better regionally and currently than Nokia, with its ‘Don’t break the beat’ campaign.  Nokia would have decided to exclusively use traditional media to publicise this rapping contest, but it probably read CCK’s early July press release that said that Kenya now has 29.2 million mobile phone subscriptions. And probably its agency of advertising advised Nokia to engage with its target audience via mobile phone by requiring aspiring rappers to register on the campaign’s mobisite.

If Nokia, despite the challenges it’s been facing for the past few years now, can roll out a digital campaign in East Africa, what’s stopping regional brands with fewer challenges and more data about their consumers from doing the same? If the CCK, a parastatal, is leading the march to encourage Kenyans to hug digital TV signals by the end of 2012 instead of 2015, why aren’t regional brands reassessing their current analogue message platforms and measuring their effectiveness and returns on investment against advertising on the internet?

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