Nairobi News


What brands consider when choosing influencers during Covid-19 pandemic

Business is no longer being done as usual by most local and international companies since the first case of the coronavirus pandemic was confirmed in the country in March.

Many service providers and manufacturers of various brands have been forced to make bold moves to stay ahead in the market which has been adversely shaken by the Covid-19 that is yet to be contained.

The usual launches of new brands at plush hotels accompanied by pomp and colour have been replaced with online launches and heavy influencing on various social media platforms as the new normal.

One such firm that has been forced to adapt to changes occasioned by the novel virus is Chinese phone manufacturer Oppo which launched its latest series of mid-range smartphone, Reno 3 on April 15.

After the launch, Oppo went heavy on top local celebrity influencers and brand ambassadors, dubbed Oppo O-Stars, whose task was to push the Oppo Reno 3 and increase its visibility in the local market.

Oppo settled on comedian Daniel Ndambuki alias Churchill, singer Avril Nyambura, actors Pascal Tokodi and Martin Githinji, videographer J Blessing and vlogger Maureen Waititu as O-Stars for the Reno 3.

Various brands have been forced to consider more than just social media following when selecting influencers for their new products in the era of the coronavirus to achieve maximum conversions.


According to Oppo Kenya communications manager Muthoni Wachira, the influencers for each particular release are always picked on the merit of how their individual brands align with the values of Oppo and what the company intends to achieve for any given product.

“We picked Avril and Pascal for Oppo Reno 3 because they have the knowledge of and appreciation for marketing an established online presence, they have a passion for building and growing relationships as well as the ability to gather feedback and provide innovative insight,” Muthoni noted.

“As for J blessing, he comes on board as a cinematographer to offer consumers with video photography tips. Oppo’s latest generation is all about cameras. The Reno3 versatile camera setup is geared towards content creators, giving them all the tools they need to capture clear shots under any condition and make professional photos and videos on the go. This is why we also got Maureen Waititu, a content creator, in the frame of a vlogger who presents the fashionable image master that is Reno3,” she added.

Samsung Kenya last week announced that it had picked popular rapper Nyashinski as its brand ambassador.

The company’s head of mobile in the country, Charles Kimari, noted that the singer had demonstrated similarity with the brand identity hence making it easier for them to pick him added to his huge influence online and offline.

“Samsung is committed to deepening our partnership with local talent. In our eyes Nyashinski has time and again personified our brand ethos – Do What You Can’t. Samsung is proud to be associated with him,” Kimari intimated.


Loyalty to a company is another factor that brands look for in celebrities before putting pen to paper on influencing pacts and renewals. Taking personal responsibility and initiative for a brand one represents by going the extra mile to find out the brand’s performance in the market, gives one an upper edge.

Avril is on her fourth endorsement deal with Oppo while Tokodi is on his second.

In November 2017, gospel singer Mercy Masika signed a one year endorsement deal with Ariel laundry detergent, which was renewed by a year.

Celebrated actress Catherine Kamau Karanja alias Selina has been the face of the popular toilet bowl cleaner Harpic for more than five years and she credits her loyalty to the brand for the long confidence.

“For Harpic I was wise enough to know not to be on every other brand because when you are everywhere you tend to water down your brand. I want to be known for a few brands and make some kind of impact,” Cate stated.


Most brands will avoid like the plague celebrities known to court controversies or who have been caught in compromising situations and have been adversely affected by negative stories.

It is worth noting that some celebrities court controversy to for clout and to remain relevant in showbiz but this has played against them in terms of getting lucrative influencing and endorsement deals.

Former gospel singer Willy Paul, Otile Brown and Timmy Tdat are good examples of stars with big hits but have failed to bag brand influencer and endorsement deals due to controversies that dog their lives.

Gospel singer Hope Kid revealed how he last year lost a couple of endorsement deals thanks to the sex scandal that hit him, one which he is yet to recover from.

“Many brands didn’t want to work with me, I lost a couple of endorsement deals that were in the pipeline then,” Hope Kid painfully revealed.