Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. In Kenya, kids who grew up in the mid 80s to the 90s remember the Nyayo milk with nostalgia. There’s usually that sense of emotional attachment or ownership to a given thing.

In advertising and marketing there’s always that one ad or campaign that will stand the test of time and have a connection with the masses. You’ve probably watched one ad and thought to yourself, “Wow! Who comes up with this stuff?” Well, we probably don’t know the specific individuals that come up with the amazing campaigns but we know they do one heaven of a job. (It can’t be nice if it’s hell, can it?)

Brace yourself, or just adjust your seat. Some of the best campaigns to grace the Kenyan advertising scene in the past decade have a jiggy feel to them. After sampling a few people, we came up with ads that a number of Kenyans wouldn’t mind making a comeback; hopefully, they won’t be as horrific as Oliech’s attempt at a comeback to the national football scene.

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When the Makmende craze broke out, the whole country came to a standstill. Who was this new superhero in town? People who grew up in Nairobi knew Makmende was slang for dare devil. He is the guy that would walk into a burning house just because he wanted to be the hottest guy in town.

When Just a Band decided to use the Makmende craze, they probably didn’t see it spilling beyond the Kenyan borders and getting coverage on Kenya’s number one media enemy, CNN. It was a marketing gimmick well thought out and executed.

The ‘Legend of Makmende’ got its feet by having the ‘right’ people talking about it. It incorporated suspense and creativity that a select few on social media at the time had any information about. Once the right people got the conversation moving, it went viral.



As a kid, I always looked forward to lunch time so that I could belt out a few nursery rhymes. My father looked forward to evenings to listen to some good old lingala or rhumba. So when Barclays went ahead to kill two birds with one stone, nobody expected what they had cooked up.

The Barclays ad embodied both technology and a trending tune which cut across two diverse demographics. The concept of a dancing robot was thrilling to me as a child. The blend was mastered perfectly to have two distinct generations look at one ad and just get into rhythm.



If they don’t talk about it then you’re probably doing it wrong or it’s just poor. So when one petroleum jelly sought the market’s attention they did it big. Using the oldest trick in the book, Vaseline brought us the Sheila Mwanyigah ad.

It was a simple ad with a classy lady with nothing but her arms and pose sheltering our poor and curious eyes from any trauma. The ad was strategically placed and drew more than just the attention of Vaseline users.

It got mixed reviews from the market. Most people thought of it as a very provocative piece of work but it got the point home. Everyone was talking about Vaseline. A great campaign has to get people talking and Vaseline got the whole country talking about its billboards.



You’ve got to trust that one of the most controversial ads in Kenya came from a condom brand. I guess you already know the brand name is Trust. Before Durex came up with the semi-explicit ads in Kenya at prime time, Trust had made families uncomfortable ages before.

If you were old enough to differentiate between a condom and a balloon, you must remember the Trust ad with guys solving different situations using nothing but a condom. These were the sort of ads that you wanted to watch but pretended not to because it felt awkward and seats would literally swallow families.

Make your audience remember you for all the right reasons. Let’s talk.

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