Ratio People: Alvas Onguru Banking on the Digital Space
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
As a creative director, Alvas Onguru has been there, seen it, done, and probably amassed a stash of t-shirts, too: Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather Kenya, and before that, with TBWA, DDB-CCL, McCann-Erickson, ZK, MCL Saatchi & Saatchi. So what next if everywhere you turn looks familiar? See if you’ve learned enough to do things on your own – and your own terms.

Together with two partners, Onguru set up Fireworks, a new advertising agency. Not an easy industry to crack – he should know. After all, he has worked for most of the big players in the competition. And an acquaintance actually tried to warn him off: ‘He insisted that this was a bad idea, that we shouldn’t do this, and that’d we’d never succeed if we took on the big agencies.’

So what’s the plan? Although initially conceived as a regular advertising agency, Fireworks’ focus will be the digital space, and Onguru is not too concerned that on a global level, internet access in Kenya is still relatively low: ‘We may be slightly ahead of the curve here, but we think that the digital space is going to grow exponentially over the coming years. Just look at the Makmende story: that shows the power of viral marketing even in Kenya.’ Fireworks’ services, he thinks, should be particularly interesting for smaller companies with limited budgets – as long as they are willing to try out something new: less print, fewer billboards, but more mobile, more web, more social media, all of which can be very cost effective. ‘We want to lead the change, and not wake up one day and stare at developments like a rabbit in the headlight.’

But there are also some brick and mortar considerations. Onguru thinks that not enough brainpower goes in advertising in Kenya at the moment: ‘Advertising isn’t planned, and there is not enough research and insights. Agencies don’t really get into the heads of the consumers to understand what they are looking for. In combination with the pressure to turn campaigns around quickly, results are often bland.’ Campaigns he likes? ‘The Guiness football talent search – that’s a story well told.’

And even more bricks and mortar: Money helps, especially if you’re new in the market. Corporate Talk Kenya, a PR and media sales agency, have acquired a shareholding in Fireworks: ‘It’s a combination that works: It gives us access to their range of services and manpower, and they get the digital buzz from us.’




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Comments (1)Add Comment
Thought Process in Adverts
written by Marvin Tumbo, April 23, 2010
Hi Andrea,

I run a social media company and I have already started seeing some traction in terms of businesses embracing social media. Print Media is dying and the dwindling advertising revenues have a big role in this. I don't think the pull out EAM was merely because Kenya is a difficult market to crack by South African companies but a bigger issue that is facing print media today.

I agree that the thought process when it comes to adverts in Kenya has focused on the mundane and plain aspects. I foresee a situation where the ROI from these adverts will be so low that it will not make any economic sense to produce them anymore. There will then be a shift to viral marketing through production of interesting, intelligent viral worthy marketing campaigns like these - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qg1ckCkm8YI

Product mentions and reviews on blogs, viral videos on YouTube, Vimeo etc, and easily shared marketing campaigns is the future of marketing in Kenya. And on these platforms, more thought has to go into adverts and engagement than before. It is not a hit and run affair that TV and Print adverts are today.

Thanks for enabling commenting. You write very insightful articles that inspire debate.

Regards

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