Kenya’s Safaricom increases advertising budget

Safaricom's Bob Collymore (image: Safaricom)

Kenya telecommunications operator Safaricom announced that it had increased its financing of advertising by some 50 percent in the past 6 months in an effort to promote its brand and attract new customers.

The announcement comes as price wars continue to bog down the Kenyan telecom market, although analysts say it has been beneficial to users.

“While there are a lot of worries from operators who are losing money, for Kenyans it has meant better costs when using their mobile,” said one analyst on the sidelines of an IT meeting at the Kenyan ministry of telecommunications.

Data revealed by Synovate shows that Safaricom’s rivals, led by Airtel Kenya, either maintained or reduced marketing budgets as they sought to preserve cash in a period where companies “spent Sh28 billion, up from Sh20 billion, in the race to capture new demand in a recovering economy.”

The growth in advertising spend by Safaricom, which accounts for some 11 percent of its overall spend, is linked to the vicious battle for market share that has seen rates drop by more than half to three shillings per minute across all networks.

“Market leaders in competitive sectors such as telecoms and home and body care products have increased their budgets,” said Bharat Thakrar, the CEO of Scangroup, a creative and media buying firm that handles a number of top advertisers including Safaricom, Reckitt Benckiser and Airtel.

Janan Yussif