The Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK) held its awards gala last week where different companies were feted for their effort to run successful marketing campaigns in the country. The Exchange was one of the sponsors of the event where it presented Strathmore University Marketing Club with Best University in Marketing Campaign Award.
In an event dominated by Safaricom- the biggest company in Kenya with the biggest marketing budget- technology disruptors were widely discussed.
The chief guest for the event was Debra Mallowah, a marketing guru whose brains have been tapped by the biggest corporates in Africa in a career spanning several decades. Debra is the General Manager, Consumer Healthcare at GlaxoSmithKline, East Africa though there is information she could be closing to Safaricom.
Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore announced last week the appointment of Debra to the new position of Chief Business Development Officer where she is expected to join from January 2019.
Debra is a highly-accomplished leader with a wealth of experience in consumer goods gained in leading multinationals companies. She has a strong track record of delivering growth at international, regional and local levels. She is considered a challenging and versatile leader and capitalises on strong business acumen and confident leadership talent to steer teams in new directions to drive growth.
Prior to joining GSK, Debra was Vice President of Unilever Africa where she led a diverse team of professionals based in Durban, South Africa. Other previous positions held include Group Marketing & Innovation Director of East Africa Breweries Ltd (EABL), Regional Marketing Manager of Diageo Plc and Group Product Manager of British American Tobacco. Debra is widely traveled and has worked and lived in Kenya, the United Kingdom and South Africa during the span of her career.
With that wealth of experience Debra took time to address the challenges faced by marketers in Kenya and the opportunity disruptions bring to institutions. Giving examples from Uber and AirBnB, Debra noted that marketers need to be develop marketing solutions based on consumer needs rather than what the corporate wants.
“A marketer needs to be a a value creator than a spender. Over time I have come to realize that those marketers who want their campaigns to work, they have to develop systems that promote value for the product,” she noted.
“This is the best time for one to be a marketer, in the age of disruptors. This is because there is no one in an organisation who known the customer better than a marketer. He or she has the chance to come up with very innovative customer-centric disruption.”
Debra noted that the creators of Uber were only responding to a customer need as they found how unreliable taxis in San Francisco and Paris were and hence based on their consumer need they responded with innovation. She also narrated how AirRnB came to be with the creators of the concept using air inflated beds to attract their customers in a busy hotel season in San Francisco.