Davis Nyamare in partnership with Robins Olima have brought in a fresh breath in the advertising industry in Kenya
By Caroline Mwendwa
Davis Nyamare’s creative new idea in the Kenyan advertising industry has become a game changer. When people hear of advertising, they think of newspapers, radio, TV, bill boards and other mass media channels but Nyamare’s fifteen year stay in the US opened his mind to a new experience which he used to change the norm in the advertising industry. “When I came back to Kenya, I realised that traditional media and the rising trend in social media platforms dominated the market. This had me thinking of what I could do to make a change. Having seen a different scenario in the United States where almost all taxis have toppers for advertisement, I realized there was an opportunity to introduce that concept locally.”
Nyamare had a clear picture of what he wanted to establish and having started to build this idea while still in the US, setting it up in Kenya was no uphill task. He had a childhood friend based in Nairobi (named Robins) who came in handy in helping him set up the business. “We were in communication even while he was still in the US and that is when we started thinking of how to start the business,” says Robins, the chief operations officer at Meelin Advertising Agency.
Meelin Advertising Agency was started in 2015 with the aim of changing the trends in the advertising industry in Kenya. “Our concept is very unique and way more satisfying to customers,” he further says. Maleen Advertising majors in using taxi tops and LCD to advertise brands. The materials that they use in this trade are imported from Japan. “We realised that we could only get these materials at the best quality from Japan but we hope to have a local supplier once we identify one.”
Nyamare explains that depending on the type of the topper requested by the customer, whether digital taxi top or otherwise, the time required varies. “For a digital taxi top, it takes longer to fabricate, approximately one month, while the usual taxi top can take from two to three weeks but we always make a point of informing the customer how long it will take.”
This mode of advertising is highly unique and advantageous given its outstanding features. For instance, each topper is fitted with minute cameras which can recognize faces as either male or female. From these cameras, the team at Meelin can provide factual data to its customers detailing the number of people who were reached by the message, an approximation of their age and gender. “This is one of a kind feature in advertising that is provided by our platform without having to engage other resources and which makes our customers prefer it.”
Apart from the minute cameras, the taxi top method of advertising is more appealing because it involves moving from one place to another making it highly visible by all people in its proximity. As would be expected, people took time to appreciate the strength of this channel of advertising but with time, it’s gaining popularity.
The target customers are usually the promotional adverts and campaigners who feel that their product is not common enough to the audience. Taxi tops have now become a preference especially in the gaming industry through betting firms.
Meelin Advertising has signed in one thousand five hundred taxis already. “We appreciate the taxi drivers by giving them financial benefits at the end of the month and this encourages them to prefer doing business with us,” says Nyamare. The rates of the taxi top adverts is affordable ranging from Kshs. 30, 000 per taxi top for a minimum of 20 taxis to around Kshs. 300, 000 depending on the services requested.
“The take up so far is impressive as hardly a week goes without a potential customer calling in to request for our services,” says Robins.
Before settling on taxis, Nyamare and Robins had thought of experimenting on matatus and buses. “We realised that with public service vehicles, we had to go through tedious procedures for approval before pitching any topper as there is more than one company involved. Also, dealing with buses and matatus presents a challenge of limited security but with taxis the scenario is totally different.”
The two run the business with a team of ten sales people who are required to bring in at least four to five clients in a month. Robinson is charged with ensuring that the customers are satisfied and their expectations are met. “I keep an eye on the operating taxis to ensure that we deliver the promise we make to the customer.”
The staff also includes a creative team who design the messages where the client does not offer ready advert. “In most cases, corporations want to come up with the message to ensure consistency in their branding, but in the event that they want it done by us, we have a creative team accredited with high quality messages.”
Nyamare on the other hand ensures that as the CEO, he bears the vision of the firm by communicating and implementing the short and long-term goals.
Value for money
Advertising is a game of convincing potential customers that they will get value for their money. As Nyamare explains, once an organisation says that they already have a budget and can’t accommodate more expenses, the advertising agency reaches a dead end with that particular client, until there is another budget to be drawn on costs. He however appreciates the fact that corporations have expanded their marketing budget and there is a likelihood of better opportunities in the near future. “It is however necessary to note that as we approach the General Elections, firms are limiting their advertising budget due to the uncertainty in the operating environment.”
Nyamare hopes to popularise taxi tops as a channel of advertising. “My goal is to have 99% of the registered taxis in Kenya bear high quality taxi tops,” he avers.
The two entrepreneurs are highly inspirational. Their insights as enterprising young men with a vision in the advertising industry are captivating enough to challenge their age mates to give a try in business.
“I like challenges, and entrepreneurship is exactly that; you wake up every day to solve a problem, and in the long run it pays back, “says Robins. His advice to entrepreneurs is that they should venture where their interests are. “Do what what makes you happy, while aspiring to make life better.”
For Nyamare, success in business calls for taking risks and the younger one is, the better. “Individuals can mould the life they want and the only way to achieve this is to be comfortable with uncertainties, and keep on a progressive goal that does not shift with change of circumstances.” He also asserts that if one is spending his or her life doing what he or she does not like, then they are not working. “It is only by doing what one enjoys doing that he or she can make someone else’s life better and that is what success entails; adding value to other peoples’ lives.”
For the duo, family time is highly valuable and when they are not working, spending time with the loved ones and taking enough rest is the way to unwind.