By Gerry Gitonga, General Counsel, Akili Network

I believe this will be a question that will pop up in one way or another into the minds of the children of today when they are older and the Covid pandemic has been consigned into the annals of history. But it is a question that parents and the nations should be curious to seek answers from corporations today while we are still going through the pandemic.

Every corporate entity has dreams of its brands’ immortality. That longevity is the sure sign of the success of the products behind the brand for generations to come. As you read this, you might now be thinking of brands you saw in your younger days that are still in the market today.  Other than the direct memories of utilizing the particular brands that come to your mind, you most probably also think of memorable ads or publicity campaigns from that time that are stuck in your memory. These are ads that bring a nostalgic tinge in your heart, a wistful look in your eye or a longing smile on your lips. As I write this in Nairobi, Kenya, I am remembering Mzee Tamaa bin Tamaa (Peter Lukoye) in that beautiful family-centric ‘Cowboy’ ad[1], the Kilometric pen that used to write and write, Crown paints’ colourful classical music ad[2] [3], British Airways’ ad featuring that beautiful song by Yaani[4]etc. The combination of the visuals and music fills the heart with so much reminiscing and happy ruminations, yet these are advertisements! We were however fortunate in our younger days that we never had to contend with a pandemic that kept us at home for months on end, with regular calls for us to stay at home.

In a highly competitive and crowded television market, Akili Kids! TV has in a span of one year managed to secure the loyal and enviable viewership of 5.3 million Kenyan children and 4.2 million adults. This is according to a report by GeoPoll[5], the trusted TV ratings measurement company. And with the Network’s aggressive and innovative strategies, those numbers will keep growing.

The question for Kenya’s brand owners, managers and marketers is – when Akili Kids! audiences look back on the pandemic many years down the line, are they going to form any favorable association with their brands during the duration of the pandemic? Did they do anything to make the families / households utilizing Akili Kids! tv shows as their safe entertainment destination connect or relate their brands with positivity, optimism or hope at this strangely unique time in the history of mankind? 

{And even if that does not happen,} the questions beg to be asked and answered – do corporations in the various sectors of the economies of the nations of the world have a role to play in helping children deal with this pandemic in an easier way?}

I believe that the pandemic has given brand owners the paradox of an unwanted-yet-available-opportunity to create innovative and memorable television moments that can help lift the mood of the nations’ children and families even as we continue to contend with covid-19. This is through awesome yet relevant ad campaigns and through CSR activities (and even a mix of both) that will help them engage with their customers and the consumers of their goods in highly optimistic and uplifting ways in these strange times.

The other question is, how are corporations around the world and in Kenya generally helping children cope in these Corona Virus times? For us in the TV sector, with regards to the pandemic, has there been any noticeably substantive effort to create content or opportunities that directly seek to focus and positively impact our children? What about in other sectors?

This is evidently self-serving, but Kenya’s Akili Network has the desire, the capacity and the ability to work with brand owners, managers, and marketers to deliberately and innovatively focus on children and their families and households in constructive ways at this momentous time of our weird, shared experience. Our own existence together with our viewership and ratings success is evidence of that.

Corporations of the world, remember the children.

[1]  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmd1HhscTb

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdzHkAGLLBs

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybhki689Z1k

[4] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8upRVi4Hdk

[5]https://www.dropbox.com/home/Marcom/Analytics%20and%20Data/Geopoll?preview=GeoPoll_AkiliKids_KenyaRatingsReport_May2021+(1).pptx

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