OPINIONPeople Daily

Advertising in Kenya has come of age

Tomorrow, Kenya’s creative geniuses will be feted at the 2018 Association of Practitioners in Advertising (APA) in Nairobi. It will be the culmination of a week-long brainstorming of creatives in the industry, where ideas and experiences were exchanged.

I must admit the advertising industry in Kenya has matured. It has become not only highly creative, but also authentic. Gone are the days when you sold a product by pandering to racist stereotypes or playing on erroneous but popular beliefs.

As a person with an intensely artistic mind, I find myself savouring some well rendered ads. Top of the game include ads produced for Jamii Telkom (Faiba), East Africa Breweries and Safaricom.

Agencies doing such ads have dared to cross racial and social class barriers to make the products appealing to a cross section of audiences. Where the foregoing considerations feature, they are basically used to caricature their proponents by turning such beliefs on their heads.

Indeed, the media as a whole has a lot to learn from creatives. Journalists need to find new ways of telling stories to stop sounding like a scratched vinyl record. It is the only way to counter the social media offensive.

We may not be there yet technologically, but the content and delivery is good enough. The only blot is the small matter of advertising ethics and water shed times.

I know we keep saying there is nothing new we are teaching our children, but let us not endorse whatever “adult content” they know.

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If our children are behaving badly, it is because parents have lost the plot. Not too long ago, it was unheard of for school children to insult teachers, let alone people in authority.

A recent incident where KCSE exam candidates of Ambira Boys High School were captured burning books and insulting Cabinet secretaries Fred Matiang’i and Amina Mohamed is among the first, albeit toxic fruits, of our licentiousness.

But what do you expect if the public behaviour of adults in this country has gone to the dogs? I was in shock when some participants of a media WhatsApp group in which I am a member had the audacity to defend the boys, saying such insults do not amount to criminal offence. Really? I think we are kidding more than our children are, and they know it.

Our children are growing up in a culture where leaders, especially politicians, also insult one another in the full glare of the media. Even where their comments are not aired by mainstream media, we still get to read and listen to their trashy talk on social media.

I fully agree with the President. Regardless of changing times and all that jazz, we must not let our children go that route. Reverence for authority is a prerequisite for the rule of law and order.

The fate of Ambira boys should serve as an example of what would befall those with similar behaviour. – The writer is a communication expert, and public policy analyst—[email protected]

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