The worst part about Kenyan TV programming which is now overrun by soap after soap after freaking soap are the frequent
adverts that are just as great an eyesore as the soaps. And frankly, the scripts may actually be written by the same person. While the soaps have too much crying in them, the adverts are so horrid you will want to cry. Who comes up with this stuff is the question that constantly racks my brain? Given how bad these adverts are, can the businesses behind these mediocre scripts survive the emerging trends of Social TV where content created for TV scales in social media channels where a majority of Kenyans are now spending most of their time online on?
Most adverts on Kenyan TV are devoid of creativity, wit, humour, and too heavy on information delivered via mediocre scripts that leave a lot to be desired. There are exceptions of course but those are few and far between. Many people I know rarely sit through these adverts. They always have the remote at hand to change the channels whenever these ads come up. And these are the same people who will on twitter or on Facebook ask their friends or followers for links to the cool new advert that everyone is talking about. See the difference? Kizuri Chajiuza! (A good thing sells itself). Whereas people like my brother go to extreme lengths, even shutting the TV off, to avoid some of these mediocre ads, they will also go to those very extreme lengths to find that good ad that people are talking about. And that is the difference that will make the difference with regard to which adverts will scale and which won’t.
One of the major causes of juvenile scripts and mediocre adverts in Kenya is usually non-creatives taking on the role and responsibilities of the creative people whose work it is to conjure up marketing and advertising ideas. My brother works in a company that makes quite a number of the adverts that we see on TV today. Some of them are so bad that I ask him what the hell were they thinking coming up with that. And he tells me that companies usually come with the script and just require them to make the ads. And he then tells me that even though he likes the ads that they make, the company representatives usually end up stripping the ads of its creative elements by ordering them to remove this and that. In the end, he hates the ads that comes out but that is what the company that hired them wants. There is no legroom for creativity. And here is the thing; most managers are good with systems and processes. When they are the same people responsible for writing scripts for your ads, guess what you will end up with, a brochure in motion.
When creativity is let loose to do its job, what you end up with are Peter Marangi like adverts that captivate and which create conversations around them. Safaricom adverts have also been very creative and the #NikoNa advert is arguably the best advert of 2010. The Tusker Milele ad which is my all time favourite ad also represents what creativity can do for a brand. I have laid blame with management for seeking to control the brand message too much that it stifles creativity but a share of the blame also goes to ad agencies. Some of them are given the sole responsibility of coming up with an ad from script writing to the finished product. And they also fail in a big way in the creativity arena probably because the standards have not been set high such that mediocre reigns.
The question therefore is: can Kenyan companies cede the tight control that they now have over the creative process? Can Kenyan companies cede control of the message so that good ads that can scale can finally be created? Can Kenyan companies outsource the creative aspects of their branding that they clearly lack the creative capacity to handle in-house? Can Kenyan companies take a risk by making ads that don’t fit conventional profile?
In 2011, I think we will begin seeing greater migration of TV ads towards social media and this will probably be what will jumpstart mindsets of most Kenyan companies. These companies will realize that their adverts have the potential of really scaling in social channels and this will require a new approach that caters to the eccentricities of the social media crowd. Kenyan companies will start creating adverts for TV and cross publishing them in social media channels as well. Some may even take the bold step of creating ads strictly for YouTube.
And talking of YouTube, this is one of the best ads I have ever seen…
Your thoughts… And while at it, let me know which are your best or worst Kenyan adverts and why?