Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Lessons for Brand Managers from The National Alliance Party Launch.

It's been a great weekend for me and part of what made this one so awesome was TNA's launch-the party that Uhuru Kenyatta will use to run for presidency in the next general election. The team that handled everything from Media, PR, Experiential and digital for the pre-launch and the actual launch did a perfect job.I was handling social media for Coca-Cola Kenya during the time they launched the Billion Reasons campaign before I resigned to pursue personal business interests; we used to sit in long strategy  meetings just to ensure everything works according to plan. We had to ensure that what the PR agency fitted well with the media agency was doing; the experiential agency had to deliver exactly what I promised people on social media and what PR & media agencies had communicated to Kenyans through the print media & TV. When a launch happens flawlessly just take time to think of the people who delivered that success, pomp and colour- the sleepless nights someone had to undergo for weeks to ensure the client gets exactly what they need.
Brand Strategy-Overview
Mr Kenyatta is anchoring his campaign under the “I believe” theme that seeks to encourage Kenyans to work together to realize their aspirations using TNA as his campaign vehicle. What Uhuru Kenyatta has done perfectly is exactly what Brand Kenya board should do for this country, it is the same thing the Mkenya Daima campaign is trying to achieve and still what Coca-Cola is trying to do with their "A Billion Reasons to Believe in Africa" promo.
Uhuru refused an offer to join the Democratic Party formed by Kibaki in 1991 but now controlled by former ministers Joseph Munyao and Chris Murungaru, a move that demonstrates that Uhuru is keen on working with the masses and not the rich people or the old guard who always want to have their cake and eat it. This clearly shows his ambitions to overhaul the political environment completely by working in the present and not the past. This can be further testified by the age of TNA party officials who are in the age bracket of 30s;
The alliance has a national outlook comprising of Johnson Sakaja from Western is listed as the party's chairman, Onyango Oloo from Nyanza as the secretary general, Wambui Gichuru from Central as Treasurer, Mr. Billiaha from the Coast as Organising Secretary and Moses Kuria, who has resigned as PNU spokesman. By the way you can check out The launch in photos here.
I will demonstrate how Team Uhuru utilised Social Media, Mainstream media, digital media and experiential to deliver what went down on Sunday. I also sought the feedback from my friends on Facebook and you can check what the had to say here .Enjoy!!
Social Media
Team Uhuru has established a strong social media presence for the party and for Uhuru Kenyatta. On their facebook page facebook.com/IBelieveKenya they already have 8906 fans; the page seeks to compile your iBelieve messages . On twitter you can also share your dreams and aspirations of a better Kenya using #iBelieve on the following twitter handles @Teamuhuru  @UKenyatta  @iBelieveKenya which already has 1000 plus followers.This is a good way of engaging the youths in this country, we spend a lot of time on social media thus these platforms are so effective for communicating to the voters in the18-35 age bracket.
The guys handling social media for this campaign clearly understand these social networks. They created a major buzz online before the launch; no one knew what the I believe campaign was all about and at one point we blindly tweeted about the campaign and who probably was behind it. Guys at Coca-Cola were so lost with #iBelieve messages that were being tweeted all day, Brand Kenya board was also caught napping by what seemed to be a huge campaign which no one knew who was behind. Kudos @KeeganLarson,@PeterLang,@StylishLyme.-you are all SocialPros!
Uhuru Kenyatta's speech was also posted on Scribd for all the alliance of believers and you can read it here
Digital Media Presence
http://www.uhuru.co.ke/timeline.html- Shows Uhuru Kenyatta’s timeline; his major milestones in life in photos-Great.
I liked their simple website design with a screen showing the believe messages and feeds from twitter and Facebook and prompts one to join the conversation
Public Relations
Here's what I think is the PR strategy of the agency that's handling TNA's and Uhuru Kenyatta's account.
Here's a short background that leads to the goal of all the PR efforts and the objectives they want to achieve at the end of the day.
The world sees Kenya and Africa as dark & hopeless, majority of the news that come out of Kenya is negative e.g. war, hunger, poverty etc. Locally, our focus is also on negative news, as that’s what sells yet people are tired of the negativity & it’s effects  on this country. This country has a lot of positive news to offer  and because Uhuru Kenyatta knows, understands, lives and breathes Kenya, only him can influence positive attitudes amongst Kenyans by claiming his role as the icon of  happiness and the beacon of optimism. Team Uhuru seeks to position UK as the brand/individual that helps to change culture at a deeper level, a brand that celebrates the positive realities of Kenya and encourages people to refresh their optimism.  Wake up! Bad things are happening. But Uhuru Kenyatta is a brand that inspires us to see the bright side of Kenyan reality, encourages us to turn things around, and reminds us to be proud of the country we live on. 
You can also read the story Daily nation carried on the launch here & (SEE IN PICTURES: Uhuru party launch) perfect coverage by the PR agency that handle TNA's account!
There was live coverage of the launch by Citizen Tv, K24 and KBC, if team uhuru paid for this coverage they could have spent millions on that. There was also heavy coverage of this launch before and after the launch which must also have been paid for by TNA.  Daily nation for example did almost fives pages on this launch which must have cost a huge chunk of cash, nobody just appears on the front page of the most read newspaper in Kenya.Team Uhuru had billboards on vantage points in Nairobi days before the official launch and this did help build the launch pre hype.
If you have done an event in your lifetime then you know the logistics that come with these events. I always have great respect for experiential marketing agencies; the people in this industry are worth every coin they charge. The function was held at two venues — in a dome in the Comesa Grounds where about 3,000 people were present and in the KICC Courtyard, with close to 15,000 people in attendance. The dome was only accessible to those who had cards. There were 55 MPs, including Cabinet ministers, allied to Mr Kenyatta at the function. Mr Kenyatta was accompanied by his family, including his wife Margaret and mother Mama Ngina. The crowd was treated to entertainment from various artistes, among them P-Unit and Jua Cali.  The crowds at the different venues were kept updated on the happenings on the other side through big screens. Most of the activities such as the introduction of officials were shown on the screens. There was also footage from Nyeri, Garissa, Eldoret, Kisumu, Bungoma, Nakuru, Mombasa and Kakamega where parallel events on the launch were held. The speakers did not rely on printed texts in delivering their messages but were guided by teleprompters. Security, which was provided by both the police and private firms, was tight. Before entering the dome,  Mr Kenyatta and his main guest, Mr Eugene Wamalwa, were hoisted by party officials in a tent christened “The Presidential Lounge”. The above outline could seem something simple to come up with but trust me its not something easy to implement, it did cost Uhuru Kenyatta a fortune but it was worth every coin he spent. 

Lessons for Brand Managers
1.Work with the best- This sounds like a cliche, you know it but why do we at times choose to spend less on crap? A great team or talented people cost a little bit more but they deliver and give you value for your money. Just spend a little more and leave that wow effect.

2.Have a plan - Don't do an official launch just for it sake to get the product to the market; in today's competitive world where brands face fierce competition it's always good to spell out your objectives clearly, what do you want to achieve at the end of the day? Have timelines and stick to working with schedules during the pre-launch and the actual roll out.

3.Team work- A brand manager should coordinate the efforts of all the agencies and companies handling the launch. Having a great team that's very talented is one side of the coin but ensuring these different agencies work together calls for coordination to build synergies. So don't leave it to the PR agency to do just public relations on print and TV but as they do so they coordinate with lets say the digital agency for online PR and communication.

4.Establish a strong presence on Social Media and digital media- This is 2012; Kenyans are spending hours on social media daily, Kenya is also NO.4 in terms of internet usage in Africa so if you are doing a launch think of the massive platform you could tap into. The average youth no longer goes to newspapers to search for information; we Google it up!! It also good to have an online platform where people can search more information regarding your product or brand. 

5.Make it experiential- People don't remember the great products you were launching, guys always remember the Huge Turnout there was, the food they ate, the free booze the drank, or even the beautiful BA's or models you had at the launch. Security is also an issue; don't have some rough & rude bouncers to harass your guests at the entrance. Of course there are cases where they have to be tough on some idiots but these well built men should have customer/client service skills to assist and direct people around not those that chase guests away.
In conclusion what Uhuru did on Sunday has certainly changed the way Kenyans view the son of the first president of Kenya, the Ibelieve campaign has certainly rebranded UK and positioned him as a very strong contender for the presidency. His pending case at the ICC seems to have been forgotten by a number of Kenyans so lets wait & see where the opinion polls place Uhuru Kenyatta. All that said I still think all the multinationals have picked up a few lessons from TNA's launch; so kindly lets not see the usual launches we see in five star hotels, get creative, think outside the box and since you can afford anything that cash can buy work with a great team. Meanwhile since Uhuru Kenyatta has managed to impress me with how he did the launch I can proudly shout-Tuko pamoja Uhuru, Tunaweza! Please deliver on what you've promised me, I am already doing something for this country and all I need is a government that supports the youths, we are tired of "Kuomba Serikali"...I don't want to borrow anything from the government, I just need security, less punitive taxes and systems that work; I will sort out the rest because I am hardworking!!

1 comment:

  1. Hi

    Interesting piece. As this is a marketing blog, I'll ignore the political implications and stick to the marketing.

    From a marketing point-of-view, you are right, Uhuru's TNA launch raised the bar and helped transition Uhuru from just another political NAME into a BRAND.

    However, perhaps he 'peaked' too early? Because ultimately, the aim of every product launch/campaign, whether it is Coke's 'Billion Reasons' or UK's 'iBelieve' is too convert people's attention into purchases and the longer the distance between product launch and purchase time (in this case election day), the higher the chances of cognitive dissonance/buyer hesitation setting in. In addition, the longer period gives copy-cats time to imitate and launch their own.

    Case-in-point: Apple. By the time they are holding a new product launch, the gadget is already finished and with the manufacturer, awaiting shipping back to the states. As a rule, Apple have a maximum lead time of 2-3 months between product launch and availability, just enough time to ensure that the product is still fresh in consumers' minds but not too long to give the Samsung's time to imitate.

    In UK's context, by election time, the 'new-ness' of his brand will have worn off and he'll be seen as just another politician. If he was smart, he'd have pulled an Obama stunt. Both in 2008 and in 2012, Obama brought his A-game at the last minute, while his competitors had been all-over the country and were starting to bore people. This worked in 2008 because he was too new to be thoroughly 'vetted' and 'dismembered' by the media and in 2012 because he let Romney run around the country spending valuable resources too early while Obama flooded the media with ads at the last minute, knocking Romney off his pedestal.
    In marketing terms, Obama appeared a 'fresh' brand against the 'dullness' of Brand Romney.

    Considering that UK's chief competitor, RAO, is capable of stealing the scene like he did with his 2007 campaign launch, perhaps UK 'peaked' too early and will suffer the same outcome as Romney?