Young & Rubicam Brands and VML reveal online reputation of top African brands


In a world first, leading communication group Young & Rubicam Brand today showed a gathering of CEO’s and Press the results of a study into some of the Region’s strongest brands and their online reputations.

Addressing the meeting, Young & Rubicam Brands Chairman Chris Harrison explained that the study had been conducted over the past 10 months, by VML, a leading digital marketing agency based in the USA.

VML is a top ranked global agency and a Young & Rubicam brand. The study made use of SEER™, VML’s proprietary web visualization and monitoring tool. SEER maps ecosystems created by consumer-generated content, monitors online discussions and commentary, and identifies influencers — leading to qualitative insights across multiple fronts.

Crucially the study revealed that despite the huge growth in consumer Internet usage, even some of our biggest brands are slow to engage Africans online.

Brands covered by the survey, known in web parlance as a ‘crawl’ included:

· National tourism brands of Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

· Major banking groups Ecobank and Stanbic/Standard Bank

· Telco’s Safaricom, Orange, Yu and MTN

· Southern African retail giant Pick n Pay

The brand with the highest share of voice on Internet was Orange with 846,000 conversations over 10 months. These conversations occurred in blogs, on social pages and other sites. But this reflected conversations about the global brand, not its position in Kenya.

By contrast Safaricom, the region’s biggest enterprise, featured in just 11,000 web conversations over ten months. These conversations were in the main related to the performance of the business, and the personal reputation of Michael Joseph, its recently retired CEO. In the limited dialogue about consumer issues, Safaricom won praise among bloggers for initiating Facebook and Twitter accounts to provide a platform for consumer engagement.

The SEER tool also looked at the nature of conversations and revealed that the most positive were about Orange, then YU, and then followed by Safaricom and MTN.

‘Internet conversations about banks were completely devoid of emotional content,’ revealed Chris Harrison, ‘but there were positive discussions about the things banks like to talk about – networks, acquisitions, and management. There seems to be a huge opportunity here for banks to develop messaging which creates consumer dialogue.’

Harrison stressed that this is not simply a call for brands to be active on the web. Web conversations are about subjects which interest consumers – which include advertising, promotions, customer care, and community engagement.

‘If you are not being talked about on the Web, it indicates that your brand is not really newsworthy.’ he added ‘while many brands in Africa are newsworthy as businesses, they don’t seem to be part of day to day consumer discussions.’

In the area of Tourism, South Africa generated 18,000 conversations, Kenya 12,000 and Nigeria 2000. But Kenya only generated as much positive sentiment as Nigeria. Kenya was mainly associated with the positive attributes of ‘Safari’ ‘Natural Wonders’ and ‘Beautiful’. The brand received negative comment about its new ‘Jambo’ advertisement on TV.

Chris Harrison highlighted the importance of CEO’s knowing what conversations were going on about their brand on the Internet. ‘Increasingly, monitoring web conversations will allow CEO’s to take their brand’s consumer pulse.’

VML will begin to offer East African companies the opportunity to monitor their brands’ online reputations with immediate effect, using the SEER methodology.

About VML

Recognized by Advertising Age as a top digital marketing agency, VML delivers creative solutions at the intersection of marketing and technology. With more than 800 employees around the globe, the VML is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, with principal offices in New York, Seattle, London, Milan and Geneva.

VML handles national, regional and global agency of record responsibilities, providing enterprise website strategy and development, and emerging media leadership. VML engineers best-in-class digital experiences for some of the most respected and recognized brands in the world.

Founded in 1992, VML has been a member of the WPP Group of global communication agencies since 2001