As you all know, I was incredibly disappointed by the fact that I couldn’t vote in the last election on August 8th because I’d lost my national ID card. Which you also know that I found later. And I was really looking forward to voting in tomorrow’s repeat presidential election.

elections

HOWEVER. The last two months have been the most polarizing in Kenya’s history. Looking at the two front runners, I’m sorry but neither of them deserves my vote. I don’t believe for a single minute that their quest for power has anything to do with us wananchi or our interests. I refuse to be a pawn in their ego trips. The other candidates don’t stand a chance so why bother.

I’ve always been always believer in the idea that exercising your democratic right through the ballot gives you a stake in commenting on national politics. It allows you to question your leaders. If you don’t vote, shut up. But I’m at the point where in as much as I desire for this mess to end so that life for you and me can go back to normal, regardless of your tribe or political affiliation. I’m currently so fed up and indifferent. I believe we’re fucked both ways.

The fact that IEBC cannot be trusted to conduct a credible election is another factor.

It’s for these reasons that tomorrow I intend to exercise my democratic right to NOT vote. For those of you who will, do so in peace. To those who won’t, I hope those voting will allow them to exercise that right. In the end, we still have to live and work together.

God bless Kenya.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup came to a close two nights ago, with Germany beating Argentina 1-0 in a tense final to win their 4th World Cup trophy. The World Cup is the world’s most watched and talked about sporting event, and the past month has also been an online advertising festival with several global brands getting in on the action. Brands rooted for their countries, and some simply saw the tournament as the perfect opportunity to advertise, with digital campaigns scheduled to coincide with matches.

Several brands got their carefully crafted social media campaigns spot on, while others missed the mark by a mile…or ten.

delta tweet

 

 

Who can forget this tweet by KLM which got them a lot of flak from Mexican fans who claimed that it was racist?

KLM

As David Iwanow explains, there is a clear difference between stereotyping and racism. It may have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but apart from the fact that KLM’s social media team had to sift through thousands of insults in order to see and respond to actual tweets by their customers, I don’t see any major reason why they had to delete the tweet. But that’s just me.

Advertisers have spent millions of dollars/pounds to market their brands and products during the World Cup, as online conversations and reactions among fans take place in real time. According to Campaign Live, UK brands spent “in the region of £500,000 each around the event, with the largest campaigns pushing £1 million” during the World Cup. It has proved to be more effective than traditional advertising in terms of getting more eyeballs viewing the brand message at the same time as they’re watching football on TV. Real-time advertising at work.

A number of German brands celebrated Die Mannschaft’s win in creative ways, and I’m pretty sure that several non-German brands also did the same after the final whistle. Here are some of my favourite celebration tweets by German brands.

Audi 3Audi 2CaptureAdidas

Bayer

Bosch

Hugo Boss

Merc

SAPsiemens

VW

DHL

Red Bull

I must give an honourable mention to Listerine (yes I know it’s not a German brand) and Brazuca (the official Adidas football).

Listerine 2

Brazuca

Here are a few others. Which are some of your favourites?

I look forward to local brands spending more on creative social media campaigns during such events. Currently what I see online where two brands engage each other is often two social media managers at an ad agency sitting two desks away and having a poke at each other using the corporate accounts. It’s a start, though.

What’s on my Playlist?

Jojo – Take Me Home

The other night I was scrolling through a group page on Facebook and came across a car for sale advert. The number plate was all too familiar and suddenly a lot of memories came flooding back.

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The registration was all too familiar. (I remember a lot of number plates) You see, this was no ordinary Land Cruiser (Or Cruise Control, as it was nicknamed). Well, it was, when we first set eyes on it.

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Meeting Cruise Control for the first time.

I was one of the bloggers (alongside Tim Njiru, Karue Wachira, Naomi Mutua, Ahenda Anjichi and others) chosen to take part in #TembeaKenya, an initiative by Kenya Tourism Board to promote domestic tourism by educating Kenyans about the many beautiful destinations that they can visit within our borders. Sio tu kwenda Mombasa kila Easter na Christmas. But by the time we were done with Cruise Control it had become an archive of very special memories.  We had plenty of fun experiences in that Land Cruiser. Scary ones too. Friendships were built and cemented in Cruise Control. We learnt a lot about Kenya, and even more about ourselves and each other.

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In Mombasa

In that Land Cruiser, I met Francis Kioko a.k.a MakDunda. A very talkative chap with a pronounced limp, he knows every part of this country like the back of his hand, and he sure did come up with quite a few memorable quotes. The only place where he refused to accompany us was Kakamega forest, coz not only does he fear snakes, but he knew that if we all had to scatter from danger, he would be leading from the back.

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Francis “MakDunda” Kioko

Before I met Tim Njiru, I always thought of him as that annoying, quirky little chap on In Sync, an art show that I quite enjoyed watching. Obviously I thought he had a prima donna air around him like a certain TV anchor we all know, but that opinion would soon change.

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Omera what is?

We witnessed his ups and downs, and his resolve to pick up and keep moving each time a hustle didn’t work out. Once, Tim was on the phone trying to seal a deal with a very reluctant person. He really poured his heart out, coz he had worked so hard on it, and we knew how much since it was all that he talked about all day. Everyone in the car went quiet, silently crossing our fingers and praying that the deal went through, because Tim really needed it at the time. And it did.

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And we DRANK to that!

I met Karue Wachira in that car, a man that I’ve come to admire and respect in equal measure, not just for his photography skills, but for his wise outlook on life. A child of two worlds with wisdom far beyond his years. And a brilliant photographer to match.

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Kukaza sura nayo?

In that Land Cruiser, I met Muriuki Muriithi (aka Muriux) from KTB. A passionate golfer and photographer who loves his Tusker Malt, he’s always smiling and goofing about that many times it was hard to know when he was being serious or merely joking.

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Muriux got talent

But his photography is definitely better than his golf.

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What a miss!

We traversed the length and breadth of Kenya in that Land Cruiser. From Nairobi to Tsavo West, Mzima Springs, Shimba Hills, Mombasa and everywere in between. From Kisumu to Rarieda to Mbita. Then to Kakamega, Iten, Kerio Valley to Eldoret.

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Somewhere in Kerio Valley

In that Land Cruiser, we spent a whole morning searching all over Iten for 800m World & Olympic Champion David Rudisha. We found him…..eventually.

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Naomi and Rudisha

We got lost in Ruma National Park one evening while looking for elephants. Out of network coverage and fast running out of fuel, we had no one to call for help. We just had to trust our instincts and keep moving in the bush. We did find those elephants eventually, and boy was it worth it! Through every terrain that was thrown at it, from tarmac to rocks to gravel, mud and rivers, bush and whatever else you can think of, Cruise Control just kept on going. I doubt if Jeremy Clarkson and Co would manage to destroy it.

Naomi saved our asses when the jack slipped on very loose gravel while changing a flat tyre. Cruise Control almost tipped over to the side while Karue was under it. She pushed the car upright with all the energy she could muster, and in those two or three seconds she saved Karue from imminent amputation. I think photographers need to insure their arms.

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Puuush!

In that Land Cruiser we drank quite a lot. Nitasema ukweli. That ka Famous was probably mine.

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Part of the stash

Late last year, I was leaving the office and the very distinct Cruise Control passed by. I waved, hoping to catch MakDunda’s attention, unfortunately the car just passed and went kabisa. I tried to call him just to say hi, but his phone was mteja. I didn’t think much of it until I received an email a few weeks later from Muriux with some sad news. He had called the tour company to book Cruise Control for a safari, only to be informed that MakDunda passed away in July 2012 after a heart attack.

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Ahesh and MakDunda

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MakDunda & Ahesh in Mombasa

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MakDunda at Tom Mboya’s mausoleum, Rusinga Island.

The news was quite sad. Rest in peace, Francis “MakDunda” Kioko. You were a good man.

Well, I have no doubt that Cruise Control will serve its next owner well, and I hope that whoever gets to tour the country in it will also create lifetime memories just as we did.

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Cruise Control at Kerio Valley Resort

What’s on my Playlist?

Phil Collins – Take me home.

According to blogger Acolyte, “seal clapping” refers to the act of blindly agreeing with influential people just to avoid upsetting the status quo or appearing to be a wet blanket. On social media, you get branded a hater very fast if you dare go against popular opinion.

On most days, I receive lots of invites to events. Product launches, concerts, charity events and many more. Sometimes my diary is full of these, and spending a quiet evening indoors is now a rarity.  Initially, it was flattering that all these people were glad to have me at their events. Most of them, especially corporates, invite bloggers and social media “bigwigs” to their events, and they pamper us with wonderful bitings, open bars…and freebies. Lots and lots and lots of freebies. And who doesn’t like free stuff?

The quid pro quo is that we have to create awareness and hype online about their events and/or products, which is usually easy to do especially if it’s a product/service/event that people will genuinely be interested in. But what happens when it’s not?

Many social media “bigwigs” attend these events either in exchange for cash, or with the anticipation of other benefits eg blog branding/brand ambassadorship, the promise of invites to future events and inclusion in future campaigns, and a few others for the free alcohol. Unless you’re running a charity, inviting a bunch of bloggers and tweeps to an event after 5pm without the concrete assurance of an open bar will get little or no RSVPs.

[I won’t mention the reporter from The Standard a certain newspaper who is notorious for pocketing anything from fish fingers to saucy meatballs (minus the serviettes) at Safaricom events.]

Usually the email arrives and shortly afterwards, calls are made between bloggers and tweeps. And the conversation usually goes like this:

Tweep A: I’ve just been invited to this event. Have you?

Blogger B: Yeah, just reading the email now. What exactly is it about?

Tweep B: Blah blah yada yada fishcake.

Blogger H: I see. Sounds interesting (or sounds really boring). So, are they paying us? Are there freebies? Is there an open bar?

Tweep X: Well, I heard there might be freebies, but there’s no assurance of that. But there is no booze.

Blogger S: No pints? WAKAE NA HIO EVENT YAO!! Bure kabisa!

Plain truth. Don’t shoot me. I occasionally get my liver slightly marinated at some of these events, so I’m not pointing fingers at anyone.

But what happens when the event isn’t particularly interesting? Or there is poor organization? Or when you say something on social media about a brand/product/services that is perceived to be negative, even if they deserved it?

Note: What I’m referring to is an honest expression of dissatisfaction, not bitching about, or hating on , or behaving like a Faptivist.

Case in point, a few months ago, I got an email from a company that wanted to give me business, and they were offering some money. Hey, not bad! Considering that my dearest Chebet needs new shock absorbers (those don’t come cheap!) and driving to visit Clande #2 while driving through what used to be a tarmac road between Riverside and Kileleshwa usually leaves me with a half shattered spine by the time I get to her place. However, I was disappointed with their services, and they got hold of a tweet that I’d sent to someone else to that effect. The offer was quickly withdrawn from the table. I wasn’t entirely surprised.  The shock absorbers can wait.

So what happens when you say that on Twitter? You get blacklisted. Word circulates that “Tweep X is too negative and cannot be trusted to uphold the integrity of the brand so we’d rather not work with him/her”. How about you offer quality services first before expecting guys to kiss your ass? Because, the complaints that I voice are exactly the same as what other people are saying on the same social media platforms. Besides, I’m a generally blunt person most of the time. I don’t sugarcoat what I say. Sometimes it comes across as offensive to some people even when I don’t intend it to be.

Recently I attended an event whose organization was less than stellar. I was disappointed, so I quietly walked out. I didn’t tweet anything negative about it, I held my peace. Later, some people asked me why they didn’t see me inside, and I said that it was a waste of my time a little disappointing. The same people who’d been waxing lyrical about the event on social media quietly whispered to me “Truth be told, it sucked!” while tapping furiously into their gadgets to hype it on social media. No one wants to burn their fingers by saying anything negative about an event, even if it’s true.

What follows is that people become seal clappers. We’ll tell you only what you want to hear, which will be of absolutely no benefit to you in the long run. We’ll attend your boring events, and tweet about the product or service as if it’s the coolest thing since buy-one-get-one-free pizza. We’ll eat your bitings, (the guy from The Standard that newspaper will continue to pocket some drumsticks), we’ll clear the last drop of alcohol from your bar, blog about it, tweet about it, #hashtag it, Instagram it, flood people’s timelines until we get muted, but we’ll walk out thinking “I feel like such a liar. This product/event honestly sucks.” What happened to honest feedback?

This is what I shall do from now on, just like I used to do at the beginning. If I have no interest in a company’s event, I’ll simply send my apologies and not attend. I think that’s the fair thing to do, other than attend, get disappointed, not be able to say anything about it, or be labelled a hater and as a result be blacklisted from the next one.

What’s on my Playlist?

Just a Band’s new single “Probably For Lovers” off their soon to be released third studio album is out. Check it out here: