Corporate brands have become major influencers in Kenya’s art, sports and entertainment industry. As they seek to promote their products, they’ve turned to people they believe have the clout to raise awareness about them, writes Alfayo Onyango
In 254, the role of an entertainer is becoming more commercial than just recording songs, mounting a stage to entertain and be a role model to masses. It is now even more demanding than ever before to be an artiste, a comedian or even radio presenter.
Gone are the days when performing artistes would entirely rely on shows, royalty cash, CD sales, grants and loans from potential investors and donors. With the interference of big brands in entertainment, personalities in the mould of athletes, musicians, TV and radio hosts, fashion models and film producers, among others are becoming more conscious in packaging themselves in ways that can attract the windfall that is corporate organisations brand representation.
Rapper Kennedy Ombima aka King Kaka has seen his rose grow from a rock. Against all odds, he has become the best of both worlds. Scoring deals with Safaricom and most recently with Remy Martin, a French cognac company, has been some of his biggest highlights as a brand.
He says: “My brand placement is courtesy of a team that works tirelessly to ensure King Kaka (the brand) stands out.
The kind of benefits of having an endorsement deal is I get brand visibility, exposure and we as a team get to make some good money. However, it takes a lot of strategic planning.”
Kenyan Afro-pop boy band, Sauti Sol, is literally swimming in money courtesy of Kenya Breweries’ Chrome Vodka. Rapper Khaligraph Jones has Eristoff Vodka, Google, Sportpesa and Safaricom deals and TV personality Janet Mbugua has, among others, Lifebuoy. All these deals emphasise the importance of corporate and Kenyan entertainers working together to raise the standard of the country’s arts, sports and entertainment.
Just over a month ago, rapper Octopizzo penned a deal to partner with Hashi Energy to distribute gas cylinders regionally. Soulful singer Victoria Kimani bagged a deal with international cosmetic company Maybelline New York to be its brand ambassador in Kenya.
In October, singer Fena Gitu was announced lead ambassador for Smirnoff Vodka. Media personality, Joey Muthengi and footballer McDonald Mariga recently penned lucrative commercial deals betting company Betin.
Media stunner, Anita Nderu, is also at the frontline getting Kenya’s name out there as stylishly as she can. Elite New York fashion line MANGO extended its reach to Kenya and handpicked her as its African brand representative. On her tabs, she also has deals with Barclays and Uber.
How did she secure the Barclaycard ambassadorship? “I was approached based on the content I share about my life on social media. I do almost all my shopping online and when I move around I prefer to move around cashless and the card perks are great.
I am known to collaborate with brands that I am already a consumer of and like a lot that way when I communicate about the product on my social media, it is from an honest perspective of how it has fit into my life,” she tells Spice.
Anita intimates that, besides the monetary benefits, she benefits in other ways being a brand ambassador. “I get to work with a brand I love. I literally have a list of all the brands I love and would want to work with and the list steadily grows. I make the most of everything it offers,” she says.
OVER AND BEYOND
Bongo artiste Diamond Platnumz secured a deal to be a global ambassador for Luc Belaire Rare Rose, a French champagne and wine company. With details of the boy from Tandale’s contract remaining a secret between the two entities, it is said to be a seven-figure deal.
But it is other more recognised names in the continent that manage to secure the high-grossing deals without a stretch. Nigerian singer Wizkid, who was in the country last weekend, is partnerships with top brands including Nike, Dolce & Gabbana, Ciroc, Pepsi and Moschino.
South African rapper Cassper Nyovest raked in US$30 million (Sh3 billion) in a deal with Sean Combs’ (P-Diddy) Ciroc Vodka. His female counterpart, supermodel Bonang Matheba, is in multi-million dollar deals contract with beauty product Revlon, Woolworths, Ciroc, Diva Divine Hair and Courvoisier.
Although some of these celebrities may fall short in inspiring important and much needed social change, people still have their reasons for paying attention to them, and that’s where the corporates strike gold. This is a good trend for Kenyan players, as it broadens their revenue sources, paving way for more opportunities.