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Branding suicide

Beyonce Pepsi Endorsment

Are you familiar with the Sprite Ad? “Image is nothing, thirst is everything.” Well I beg to differ. Image is everything, especially for a ‘celebrity’. As Kenyans we have created the culture that as long as we see you on TV, hear you on radio or read about you in the newspapers and magazines then you are a celeb. So, I shall refer to all such personalities as so…celebrities.

You know how in a previous blog post, I mentioned how desperation is what is killing our industry. Well, it comes up again. If there is one thing our local celebrities are yet to master and understand is the concept of brand management. I think that most are likely not to perceive themselves as brands, which they ideally they should.

When I look at our local TV ads, I worry. I worry why some of our most celebrated celebrities end up with some brand strangling endorsement deals.

When a celebrity is involved, it is called an endorsement deal, you dig?

Well, this came up in a conversation with Christopher Grey and he brought up some wonderful points for our local celebrities to ponder. There are some brands that ideally a celebrity especially of international stature should not dare consider, like a toilet cleaning agent. Why would you an internationally celebrated brand want to associate your brand with a product such as a toilet cleaning agent? Why? I would like to hear the rationale your manager used to convince you into taking the endorsement deal. Have we as Kenyan celebrities created a culture of money, money and more money is what talks? I am not saying this to be offensive but I am assured beyond doubt that a better deal is likely to come along, so take your time. When a celebrity makes a terrible judgement on an endorsement deal they almost automatically close their brand from getting better, image boosting and more lucrative deals. And this is one mistake an image can hardly recover from with ease. It chases any other endorsement deals that were perhaps lurking in the shadows.

We should observe and learn a few things from international artists. Case in point, Beyonce Giselle Knowles. She has signed some pretty awesome endorsement deals with luxury products and she makes them covetable. Some of her endorsements include L’Oreal Paris, House of Dereon-which she owns and, Tommy Hilfiger ( True Star fragrance) Giorgio Armani (Diamonds fragrance) and just recently she signed another deal with Pepsi worth $50 million. I stand to be corrected but Beyonce has taken her time in taking endorsement deals and she has been in the entertainment scene for a minute…since she was a teenager and her first endorsement deal was in 2002 with Pepsi. Now this is one artist who has got the concept of brand management to a tee.

Can you imagine if B was to endorse a product like toilet cleaner or air freshener? Can you imagine what it would do to her brand? As we like to say in swahili colloquialism “Kazi zingine zina wenyewe.” – Some jobs are not for everyone. And if you must do sign such an endorsement, the concept and scripting better be magnificent, or else you and your brand are doomed. At the moment, I am sad to say this, Kenyan ads need a lot of work. The creativity is wanting and if I were a celebrity, I would demand for some originality, colour and sass into the concept or else I wouldn’t willingly commit brand suicide.

My advice to our local celebrities, “Do not take the first endorsement deal that gets slapped in your face! Take some time out and internalise the stakes involved and what it means for your brand. If you do not have an idea what your brand is yet then take a pass until you are sure. Brand suicide is one hard thing to recover from as a celebrity



  • Mbugua Njihia

    Word! Like Suzzane Owiyo or Emma Kosgey turning up at my door with Harpic and Omo…wonder who informs the brand fit, more so from the agency level. But maybe I am missing something and sales for both have skyrocketed, but I doubt Harpic will sponsor a concert

    January 28, 2013 at 7:28 am
  • Joyce Njeri

    Ha! Never looked at it from that point of view. As kenyans, we are just too hungry for money that we will take anything that comes our way. Lets appreciate ourselves and know we are worth so much more…

    January 28, 2013 at 8:47 am
  • mwirigi

    Great post. When money comes-a-calling it’s difficult to say no 🙂

    January 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm
  • Nickey

    I culdnt agree more, wanatumiwa vibaya sana.
    That photo u can get a bit confusd kama haujui ni Beyonce coz it also kinda looks like Kimkay.

    January 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm
  • Wendy Kim

    Perfectly said!

    January 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm
  • Wambui

    very true, brand position is everything!

    September 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm