Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just a Brand

I started listening to Radio! Yeah that’s big, I have never owned a radio, or an iPod, or any gadgets in that pool, but I’m driving a friend’s car and, unlike mine, which survives on original cd’s of my favorite musicians, his car can receive several radio channels. So I listen to Capital in the morning (Chris Foot) and in the evening (Maqbul and Cess), and occasionally, the weekend football show on Kiss and Classic.

So, I have also been subjected to advertising. Subjected, because I feel like creative people have picked the lazy path and are dishing (with great colorful presentations) I think, thoughtless advertising that is nothing close to what I believe the basics of advertising are.

I’m not a creative. I am not in advertising. But I know a bad advert when I see or hear one. I once worked as a client service assistant at Express Advertising, but even that does not make me an expert.

Take the Toss advert for instance, a girl who sounds pretty excited talking about how the paparazzi has been following her around town, because she looks so fresh ( or whatever word they used). It could be a futuristic advert, looking forward to the days when paparazzi will follow around nameless good looking girls in bright clothes, possibly driving a Bugatti Veyron all over town in Manolos. Kenyans are not fascinated by celebrities, yet.

Then there’s the Minute Maid “pulpy ad”. Who uses the word ‘pulpy’ when buying juice, of whatever kind? Sigh. It's hard to believe that it is actually a coca-cola product.

There are so many such ad’s, just turn your radio on.

The reason an ad like ‘ Marangi’ or the Safaricom one that sounds like a prayer, or the Tusker one that had thousands of Kenyans sing as if they wrote the national anthem, were so successful, and memorable is because they were believable. I felt like part of the brand, even though beer tastes like soaked wood.

Right now, I love the CBA Bank ad that says, "remember to remember, do what you can to remember, ask your wife, sing in the shower, remember to open an account", ..etc..Love it, because it’s real, and it’s funny.

Some say it’s about budgets. The bigger the budget; the better the ad. I say; you have another think coming. Look at this Durex ad, it is one of my favorites.

What do you think the budget for that was?

Creativity cannot be boxed in budgets. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

So, Dear Creatives, you do a good job,mostly. But I feel that you are also working with clients who do not understand the value of their brands, otherwise they would demand better. I know about the late nights and the last minute rushes. I also know that that’s part of the JD. Just give us something to remember!

Then there's also the problem of little or no competition,an almost monopolistic advertising sector, and clients who insisit on what they want, no matter what. You can never really win, can you? then again , it is just a brand....

Dear Ladies...here's a treat for you, since we're talking advertising

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lost in translation?

This morning I saw a twitter update about a Korean Air Ad, promoting its new 3 times a week flight to Nairobi, which would otherwise be great news, as Kenya embraces the East as tourist and investor numbers from the traditional western markets begin to decline following not only the European financial crisis, but internal issues such as the post-election violence in 2007-2008, as well as continued tension between Alshabaab and the Kenyan government.

But it wasn’t good news. I searched the website, and found this

This advert became the object of banter among Kenyans most of today. Known on twitter as #KOT, or Kenyans on twitter; the response ranged from rage,analysis, to hilarious bits about everything Korean.

These were some of my tweets

'However much we try to be analytical about the word primitive, if I referred to you as such you would be offended."

My first thought was that it wasn’t meant to actually mean primitive.According to the oxford dictionary, when used as an adjective

ancient, original

archaic, basic, earliest, early, elementary, essential, first, fundamental, old, primal, primary, primeval, primordial, pristine, substratal, underivative, underived, underlying, undeveloped, unevolved

As a noun, Primitive is defined as:

1a person belonging to a preliterate, non-industrial society: reports of travellers and missionaries described contemporary primitives
2a pre-Renaissance painter or one who imitates the pre-Renaissance style.

Allow me to digress, during my first visit to China, our tour guide, who was a graduate of the English Language told us about Chinglish; (Chinese-English) a word used to describe the common translation of Mandarin to English; which is almost always a literal translation. Several times, especially when ‘Google Translate’ is used, the sentence construction is wrong and there's quite a bit of grammatival errors.

I believe that Korean Air had no intentions of abusing the Kenyan people in what they referred to as 'primitive energy'.

I would like to however meet a Korean, to explain what the translation of "Primitive energy" means in Korean. I wouldnt be shocked if it read something like: Pure Energy, basic or unadulterated by the modern world.

Hence my blog title; Lost in Translation

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The big fat Greek Wedding

I just got back from Thessaloniki, Greece, one of my closest friends, Lizz Njagah was getting married to the love of her life, Alexandros Konstantaras, I was their maid of honor, and my girl Imani was a flower girl. (that's us behind the couple) :-)

It was one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever attended. Small, simple, full of love (and amazing Greek food, drinks and dancing)

Our friendship has grown over the years, we have seen each other grow, in our careers and life in general. What I have always admired about Lizz is her energy about life, her passion about acting, She never stopped pursuing it, even when many people asked her to find a "real job". She is currently on MNET's Tinsel playing Tare and has acted in several theatre productions and is now firmly entering the world of film, having recently filmed The reun of Lazarus in Greece, with her husband Alex, as well as Pearl of Africa, whose preview was shown at Cannes this year.

Time flies! It seems like yesterday when she called to say she'd met someone at Jitu films who asked her out for coffee.

The rest as they say is history.

Keep up with Lizz on her website as well as Tinsel on Mnet.

Here's wishing Lizz and Alex Konstataras a wonderful life together!