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Thursday, June 7, 2012


Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Ogilvy Kenya, Tell-Em, Apex Porter Novelli and Silver Bullet have been shortlisted to pitch for Safaricom's Sh2million a month PR & Events account.

Gina Din CC which has handled the account for the last decade opted not to bid for it as CEO Gina Din-Kariuki focuses her attention on specialized international clients and also prepares to play in the Oil and Gas sector with her appointment as the local partner of CAMAC Energy, an explorer with several off-shore blocks in Kenya.

Head to head, Ogilvy seems to tower over the others given the accounts it handles, it personnel and the fact that its a Scanad brand.

It has big clients such as Kenya Airways, Kenya Tourist Board, UAP Insurance, Tullow Oil and KCB and some of its personnel like Catherine Karanja, Tony Kago, Esther Sserwanga, Duncan Ondigo and so on have several years experience in corporate advisory work and other client services.

Others like Henry Ndirangu and King'ori Choto are newsroom veterans turned communications specialists while Francis Ochieng' and Nick Thiong'o are ex-Gina Din CC staff and have worked with Safaricom in the past.

But without doubt the biggest question mark with be the exit of Ogilvy MD Okoth "JJ" Obado from the helm of the firm he has led since 2004. JJ who commands fierce loyalty from his staff is known for his style of letting his employees "work."

"When he gives you a job, he gives you a job," said one. Yet another: "He is a leader." 

That he will be exiting is one thing, that his replacement will be Nick Wachira, the outgoing Managing Editor of the East African will no doubt raise eyebrows.

Where J is praised for his people management skills, Wachira is not. In fact, the opposite is said to be the case and that he is difficult to work with. Nonetheless, he does get results having launched the Daily Nation pullouts, Smart Company and Money some years back, the Business Daily as first Managing Editor and now at East African.

The firm has had a very low attrition rate at the top (only Anthony Mwangi- previously Head of Clients Services and now Obado have left) and will be watched closely for any if at all, departures after this.

Tell-Em PR, associated with former Information Minister Mutahi Kagwe, has not been as visible as it used to be in the past when Emily Kaiga (now Head of Communications - Standard Chartered Bank) used to represent the likes of Nokia.

But it is still no pushover and its impressive array of accounts is testament to that - Visa, Intel, Brookside, General Electric, Chartis Insurance, Sameer, Pine Bridge Investments and so on.

It also gave Safaricom its current PR Manager, Ann Nderi.

Apex Porter Novelli is quite surprising in this list as it has tended to go for public sector contracts and has represented the Ministry of Planning, Kenya Census 2009, the East African Community, Unilever, USAID and so on.

Known as Apex Communications in the past it became a network partner to global communications firm Porter Novelli.

Silver Bullet on the other hand is no sleeper although it has lost some veteran names recently. It represents the likes of Coop Bank, Ecobank, Toyota, APA Insurance, Jetlink and so on.

It however lost the highly effective Lilian Nganda to Hill and Knowlton, a brand that has acquired some of the best upcoming PR minds recently, and Sylvia Luseno to Media Edge. Brenda Khaimia, another of the Silver Bullet girls left to join Blueprint.

It is surprising that some firms are not on this shortlist.

Hill and Knowlton, probably the best positioned to handle this job given it not only has two seasoned Safaricom handlers in Rodgers Wabito and Cedric Lumiti but it has done a much better job of replacing departures of the likes of Solomon Mahinda chose not to pitch.

It has in addition to Nganda, hired former Apex, AccessKenya and Scanad PR's Michele Anekeya and has a large pool of upcoming PR minds.

Equally impressive is Africa Practice with an illustrious list of clients such as Google, Research In Motion, Multichoice, Diageo, CNN and so on and a number of seasoned PR minds such as Joan Kiambati and Mukami Muriuki and has recently tapped the talents of Capital FM Business Editor Evelyn Njoroge.