Is Ogilvy Africa the game changer?

Posted on January 6, 2011


The coming of Bharti Airtel to Africa is highly hyped to change the landscape of the field of Public Relations in Kenya.

Under the charges of Ogilvy Africa, the Indian firm has based its regional headquarters in Nairobi. It is reported that by this decision, its PR managers had to follow suit and move their base to the Kenyan capital from Johannesburg after 14 years down south.

A lucrative account, the mobile telephone service provider is not only taking up Ogilvy Africa. In a complex arrangement it has firms such as Hill and Knowlton, and Blue Print Marketing working for it. The firms each have distinct job description and personnel to handle the business.

Alfred Ng'anga of Blue Print Marketing and Okoth Obado of Ogilvy PR

In the last three years, mobile operators have been the bread and butter of PR units in Kenya as the market edges out of its formative stages. Largest operator by subscriber base Safaricom Limited has stuck with owner managed Gina Din Corporate Communications. With a big budget to boost, the outfit has arguably executed its plan for the listed firm well by any standards.
Starting out as Kencell in 2000 before rebranding to Celtel and Zain, the second largest operator (now Airtel Kenya) has changed agencies just like its names.
Over the period, it has been handled by among others Blue Print Marketing, ZK Public Relations.

The other two players Orange and Essar telecoms operating as Yu brand have of late taken up agencies too to look after their affairs. Orange Telkom had a stint with Africa Practice before moving on to Ogilvy PR. YU (which works with a lean PR budget) on the other hand has lately acquired the expertise of Silver Bullet a scion of the Young and Rubicam for its public relations needs.

Gina Din-Kariuki her firm has handled Safaricom Limited for 10 successive years

But with a 200 strong team and a three year tenure with the brand, Ogilvy Africa will not only be looking at the Airtel brand but additional clients too from the local market.

To them the local market will transcend the borders of Kenya to the rest of East Africa Community. Like any other industry they are bound to raffle feathers of homeboys and girls who might have sat pretty in the loins.

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