Samsung put up a ring of an ad around the neck of KICC a few weeks ago and ever since Kenyans haven’t stopped talking; majority of whom have called on KICC to pull down the ad. Opinions have been written too both in News Papers and blog sites to add voice on the call for KICC to pull down the ad.
But aren’t these calls just a show of our obstinate characteristic as a nation? The arguments against the Samsung’s KICC ad are flavored around claims that KICC is an iconic, monumental, historic sacred building.
Opinion writers against the ad at KICC have pointed out at the iconic status of the building as significant enough to deter anyone from misusing the building by allowing ads around its neck. They reason that not only does KICC serve as important landmark that identifies Nairobi as the city in the sun but it also acts as statue revered by Kenyans. Some have gone to the extent of comparing KICC with the statue of liberty in New York.
I find these reasons trivial. First, KICC cannot be compared to Pope or any other sacred building like a Mosque or a Church. An important aspect of KICC, as the full name indicate, is the commercial functions it serves the county – KICC is the Kenya’s International Conference Center. As an International Conference Center the primary role of KICC is to generate revunue, commercially, to the state, everything else comes second, and third. During conferences, the businesses and brands on promotion always use brochures, screens, booklets, and other advertisement avenues to market themselves. KICC also has tourism facilities aimed at attracting revenues from tourists. Included in these facilities is the 360 degrees revolving restaurant that allows visitors to see the entire city in 76 minutes.
It should also be clarified that buildings considered iconic in other parts of the world have hosted ads. One such building is the New York’s Flatiron Building that has hosted ads by New York Times and Eno. The point of the argument that if KICC should service ads then it should restrict itself to local brands like KQ also does not hold much water as KICC is an International Center.
The beauty of Samsung’s KICC ad is not just the over 5 million shillings collected annually but the aesthetic value it ads to the city. When in Jo’burg at night one cannot but admire the beautiful skies decorated by their iconic buildings that run several ads including those from Vodafone, MTN, and others.
This debate is currently in the law courts I do pray the courts will be reasonable to retain the ad, unless it is true that the ad poses a threat to the stability of KICC.