Brands count on celebrities for positive influence on products

In Summary

• Betty Kyallo among celebrities contracted recently as the faces of Oppo F11 and F11 Pro phones.

• Mercy Masika says she picks brands that are in line with her passions and those that she has successfully used before.

OPPO O-Stars Musicians Kambua, Avril and DJ Mo at the launch of the F11 series on April 23, 2019.
OPPO O-Stars Musicians Kambua, Avril and DJ Mo at the launch of the F11 series on April 23, 2019.

On April 23, 2019, Chinese smartphone brand Oppo launched the F11 and F11 Pro mid-range smartphones in Kenya.

But that was not the only thing that was being launched that evening in Nairobi. The firm was also unveiling its group of influencers who it would use to push the product in the Kenyan market.

Singers Kambua and Avril, as well as Samuel Muraya aka Dj Mo, were unveiled as the Oppo O-Stars contracted to push the new phones. News anchor Betty Kyallo has also been roped in by Oppo to push the F11 and F11 Pro phones.


The influencers are meant to use the product and tell their followers on social media about it mentioning the brand and using agreed on hashtags.

But this also comes with major possible landmines that can see the campaign going in the negative direction - sometimes with a positive twist of the brand.

For instance, two of the Oppo influencers - DJ Mo and Kyallo - were caught up in such a situation at the beginning of the campaign. They both posted about Oppo but ended up tweeting from their iPhones.

However, two things happened - their followers made fun of them and Oppo as a brand got talked about a lot in all this.

Influencing is a full-time job for some people on social media but brands have stuck with celebrities to push their products.

The major reason for this is that these celebrities have a large following that those followers may be converted to consumers from this association.

Mercy Masika
Mercy Masika



Gospel Artist Mercy Masika has been Ariel laundry powder in East Africa for 2 years now.

She says she picks brands that are in line with her passions and those that she has used before and seen the success.

“Ariel powder does a good job in removing stains. I had been using before the company called me to endorse it," she tells the Star.

She says that the company picked her not only because she is a household name but because of her values that would enhance credibility among the consumers.

“Ariel has the message of the best value in these tough times, and as a consumer of the product, I bear witness to the promise of one wash. I appreciate this opportunity to work with Ariel as it is a brand that interacts with many women, educating and uplifting them.” Masika said.



Catherine Kamau aka Selina has been the face of Harpic, the popular toilet bowl cleaner brand for about six years now. The continued engagement is a testament that the symbiotic relationship between the influencer and the brand has worked well for both of them.

She says relevance is a key element of a successful relationship between a brand and a celebrity; an awkward mismatch never works well for either the brand or the celebrity.

For this to work, the celebrity in question must resonate with the target market that the brand/product is trying to access.

"You must believe in the product you are endorsing, it’s very hard to sell something that you don’t believe in,” she explains, "As performers, we also need to develop brands that resonate with the common man so companies will find value in investing in us."



Musician Kenzo Matata has worked with several brands including Sportpesa and 1x bet. For him having a passion for the brand you represent is an important component.

He takes personal responsibility for the products he represents and goes out of the way to find out if the brand is selling. In all the campaigns he participates in, he works hard to educate and expose the public to the brand.

 "Loyalty to a brand is the return ticket to an endorsement. When companies see the commitment that you put into representing them they are likely to give you another chance," he says.


When it comes to dealing with his clients, Chef Ali always places relationship before the paycheck. He recognises that the branding world is a very small world so people talk and share experiences.

Messing one brand could spell doom for a celebrity while executing a job flawlessly will open more doors for you. He also contends that a good rapport with a company also makes it easier for them to trust you with other brands in their group of companies or in case of a re-brand.  

“Although I always push for the best deal, it’s never about the money for me,” he admits.

“Building a relationship with your client is very important. It’s better to forfeit payment when the campaign is not effective than to lose a client forever.”


Faki Lawi is a showbiz professional with extensive experience in both events and talent management.

According to him, having representation at the negotiating phase of the contract is important.

A good agency, he argues, would know what type of deals are out there, their valuation and the nitty-gritty of the deals.

Having representation will ensure the brand’s clients and celebrity’s brands complement each other. This they do by ensuring the artiste is not pushed to execute something that is not in line with his/her brand.

A good agency can find more to squeeze out of the client, on behalf of the artiste, over and above what the client had in mind.

“It is key that the celebrity does not lose their essence in the deal, they must ensure that their brands are aligned and complementary. If a celebrity has been approached by a brand, they should not fear to point out anything that they feel would devalue their own brand.

I’ve seen instances where celebrities go in with their counter-proposal of what they feel would work best, complimentary for both celebrity and brand, and not only did the celebrity make more money from the deal, but even the client’s brand had a more sensible execution of their objectives,” he says.