Did KPLC deserve to win the MSK awards?


The mere mention of The Kenya Power & Lighting Company (KPLC) attracts such angst and makes some Kenyans start frothing at the mouth and so predictably there was uproar among some Kenyans on twitter when news reached them that the company had been awarded two marketing awards by the Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK). The awards were as below:

    1. Winner: Best Corporate launch
    2. 2nd runner-up: Best Marketing by a Parastatal or Government department

The bone of contention was that given their poor service delivery, especially in the customer service and support departments, did they deserve to win such such awards? I believe they should because they won them purely on marketing grounds, on the strength of a successful marketing campaign and customer service was not a factor.

I asked a couple of people to comment on this and this is what they had to say:

“From a technical perspective (Which MSK looks at) they deserved to win.” Media Madness

“Beyond the obvious, i.e. how on earth are we rewarding Kenya Power for anything when we spend more weekends than not in darkness, I’ve been rather surprised at the response I’ve seen on Twitter. People segmenting it and saying that marketing is not in any way related to service provision. That it’s okay for a company to be feted for selling a shoddy product because – hey, it’s a nice ad. This reminds me of those presidential awards that are given out on Jamhuri Day: Order of the Burning Spear, etc. Awards given to our MPs and such for loyal service to the Commander-in-Chief. Doesn’t matter that they didn’t do a single thing of national value all year, or that they didn’t help their constituents one bit. They were loyal to the President, and that’s enough of a reason to give them titles to add to their names. If the fact that Kenya Power diligently serves up blackouts multiple times a week is not enough for them to be blacklisted from any awards ceremonies, marketing or otherwise, until they get their act in check, what is?

A slightly longer rant here, but I feel like this is linked to this pervasive Kenyan mentality of “let’s just accept what we have.” It keeps us from remembering, and it keeps us from acting. It allows impunity on all levels to exist, nay, thrive. For example, another recipient of the MSK awards was the Kenyans For Kenya initiative. It was a brilliant campaign. And then we fed 60-70k starving kids aflatoxin. We award them for the campaign, and don’t ask them to do an equally public, equally visible campaign to show what they’re going to do about those kids who ate the contaminated maize, or what’s going to happen to Proctor & Gamble. All that matters was that the campaign was beautiful. And every single day I see a tweet aimed at Sunny Bindra, complaining about the fact that he’s constantly pointing out what needs fixing in our society, telling him to shut up or say positive things. I commend him thoroughly for his long-term memory” Rachel Gichinga

“By awarding KPLC, MSK has whittled down the marketing function to simply, constructed promotion. It doesn’t matter that the service flails in the real world, or that whatever is said in its advertising is negated tenfold in its service, or that it has perhaps the worst perception from consumers. Since these consideration weren’t factored into the selection process of its winners, then we’ll safely surmise that the general public would be more adept at handing out these awards. Pity really, the MSK was once a respectable collective of professionals.” Mugambi


  1. Critics will always be part of the society however, a good critic is one who understands the parameters of the thing or entity they are criticizing. Kenyans need to understand what has been done and appreciate it with a clear perspective that Yes things can get better. We all know things are not the best but when do we ever give due regard when things are going right.
    The writer of the Blog I bet doesn’t have a clue how far KPLC have gone, what they have done and what they are implementing. They would not even have a simple suggestion on how to make things better. I would bet the writer may even hail from Sonko’s constituency, and complains about him but may have voted for him. We complain to much with no clear suggestion on how to make things better. I would ask the writer to put a suggestion forward on how to solve our electricity issues. let us see if our work is just to criticize without any suggestion on problem solving. I challenge you.
    Mandela gave a clear direction on how they would improve relations with the white not just criticize how they did things. Be an icon not just a critic, build the nation let us not just criticize.

  2. The issue is simple… It’s fine if KPLC won a Marketing Award… the issue is the PRICE/COST of the so-called Marketing Budget paid out. Let’s not kid ourselves, the beneficiaries of the Marketing campaign were NOT:
    – KPLC (which paid loads of cash thus reducing the amount available for real improvements)
    – KPLC Shareholders (a lower dividend)
    – KPLC Customers (shoddy service. The cash should have been used to provide better services)

    The beneficiaries:
    – Media Houses running those silly Mwangaza ads over & over again
    – Media Buyers & PR firms

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