by Remon Geyser (@remongeyser) Kenyan brands are capitalising on self-made celebrities and creating their own, all with the goal of building brand-relationships and selling more products. We take a look at two Kenyan campaigns and our industry creatives give us their insights into why they have worked for brands.

Celebrities have long been seen as trusted spokespeople for brands. Every day, we come across at least one advert that features a smiling celeb telling us what we should be buying, but the rise of social media and a culture of mass information has created consumers that are more savvy — consumers who know that celebrities may not actually use the product they endorse.

A new wave

Now, a wave of new celebrities has risen; not the TV soap opera stars and musicians of yesteryear, but self-made celebrities, reality-show stars and people who have something unique to bring to the digital table. Social media celebrities such as South Africa’s Suzelle DIY have become beloved by consumers, and brands are using the power of the self-made celeb to engage with consumers in a new way. Remember when Suzelle taught you how to make a braai pie? Now she does it with South African retailer, Checkers, backing her.

It’s not just self-made celebs that brands are sponsoring, however. They’re also creating celebrities through sponsored TV reality shows. Why? Because people trust what feels real more than they trust someone with a big smile and a bit part on Isidingo.

Let’s take a look at two Kenyan campaigns and see what the Springleap panel of Kenyan industry creatives has to say.

Royco Fuata Flava

Chef Ben Royco Fuata Flava via has been around for almost 30 years in Kenya and recently released a number of new spices, which it wanted to promote with an advertising campaign. The brand had a choice: create a TV ad, buy a few online banners and hope for the best or build a relationship of trust with consumers by harnessing celeb power.

The brand chose the latter but, rather than pick a white-toothed celeb to give a face to the brand name, in 2014 it took the power of celebrity into its own hands with the creation of the show, Fuata Flava, and is now in its second season. A high-stakes cooking contest with a KES1 000 000 prize, in the first season, contestants had to use their skills, experience and knowledge to create flavourful meals using Royco spices. Viewers were given the opportunity to follow their journey, understand where they came from, and share in their wins and losses. Additionally, Chef Ben, a Kenyan celebrity in the cooking sphere, was also brought on board to serve as a judge and advisor to the contestants.

The results, according to our Kenyan creatives, have been phenomenal for the brand. The show’s high production values, and the multichannel advertising used to promote it, have created massive awareness and captured consumer attention, while making semi-celebrities out of consumers have given viewers a sense of trust — a feeling that the brand has a real understanding of what the lives of ordinary Kenyans are like.

Perhaps the only area in which our creative panel says the 2014 campaign was a little lacklustre was in its use of influencers (or its lack thereof). While creating a TV show with a celebrity chef allowed the brand to cast a wide net, it could have harnessed the power of the celeb more effectively using influencers.

Tecno Phantom 5 launch

Tecno Mobile collage. Supplied by Springleap panel creative.The first week of October 2015 saw the launch of the Tecno Phantom 5, a smartphone with a high-quality camera and Dolby speakers but a lower cost than many of its competitors. The campaign, titled #LeaveYourMark, piggybacked off the following of influencers who raised awareness of it via Instagram. These influencers were specifically chosen to target as broad an audience as possible, including young, single early adopters, moms with kids and more. This has created massive talkability for the brand and a perception of the product as suitable for people of all ages, whereas its competitors are perceived as more exclusive.

All sounds simple, right? Well, the brand hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary. It’s delved into the needs of its target audience, gained an understanding of what they wanted and shown them how the product would meet that. What makes it effective is how the brand introduced the product, that is, using the power of celebrity.

Our panel of creatives has identified the hashtag as a problem area for the campaign due to its ‘everydayness’. While the campaign used the power of celebrity well, it did not go beyond the expected to create something exciting; rather, it was clichéd. But it worked.

Advice for international brands

Our creative professionals say making use of influencers and celebrities to showcase your brand may be very rewarding but, if you want Kenyans to sit up and pay attention, you’ll have to do more than just pick a celeb and sign him or her. Here’s what they say could work for your brand:

  • Research your market. No, really, research them. You don’t onlywant to consider LSMs/SECs. Dig deep and find their pain points. Try to understand what they really care about, what issues make them sit up and pay attention (psycho- and socio-graphics). Then you can build a relationship with them that is bigger than one product or one campaign. And you can use celebrities who care about the same issues to do it.
  • If using celebs feels forced, be unique and create your own. Or find a self-made celeb who matches your brand or product. Be out-of-the-ordinary when you harness the power of celebrity and you’ll find that you have the opportunity to reach your existing target audience in a new way, or interest a group you may not have been able to reach before.


Interested in South African trends?
10% discounted subscription rate for MarkLives readers!

Every month, Springleap provides an oversight of local trends in the South African market, sourced from among its 22 000 African creatives, with new country specific reports planned for a number of key African and Middle Eastern markets. Pricing for accessing this trend platform starts at as little as R270 a month.

Readers must use the promo code “MarkLives10” to access their discount.


Remon Geyser 2015

Remon Geyser (@remongeyser) is a burger fanatic, wine connoisseur and eSports enthusiast (yes, a fancy term for playing computer games). He is also the research lead for Springleap, heading up a new global creative research division while obscurely attempting a PhD. Springleap provides instant creative expert feedback to rock marketing ROI. Remon contributes the new weekly “Talk Africa” column, covering Pan-African trends, on


— MarkLives’ round-up of top ad and media industry news and opinion in your mailbox every Monday and Thursday. Sign up here!

Online CPD Courses Psychology Online CPD Courses Marketing analytics software Marketing analytics software for small business Business management software Business accounting software Gearbox repair company Makeup artist