Wamlambez, Instagram Likes and Why Your Face Now Belongs to Russians

Hello and Unjani?


That’s ‘how are you’ in Zulu. We’re back to regular programming with the newsletter and I’m glad we’re back. I you want to get this information hot off the press, consider subscribing to our bi-weekly newsletter here. Be sure to add Nendo as a contact or favourite so that it appears on your main tab.

What happens when you want to bring a new product to market? As it happens we’ve had several discussions with clients on this very topic this year. I’m learning that there is a ‘tried and tested’ playbook according to the largest agencies in the country. 

From above the line advertising to in-store and in modern and informal trade, it is a battle for share of shelf (and mind). I discovered the lowering levels of newspaper circulation (with the exception of one of Kenya’s free dailies - which is given almost exclusively to motorists and passengers and people in offices).

We’re experimenting with new ways to get to market for a fast-moving consumer good and we’re finding that the share of shelf matters (especially nationwide) just as much, if not more, than the share of voice. A work in progress and we’ll be sharing our reflections as we continue to build things out.

The playbook is changing to serve what the team and I call ‘nomadic’ African audiences (I borrowed this term from Dave Duarte).  The battle is to live in perpetual tension between craving the familiar and battling the uncertainty, bumps in the road and odds chances of failure with the novel and remarkable. 

On that note, here’s the tasting menu of links for the week.

What to Sip < 30 sec


If you’ve been a marketer for a while, you may be tired of constantly injecting dollars into your ads. Good news! Adam Bornstein of Pen Name Consulting tells us about a few free ways to reach clients. In a world where you have to pay to be seen, his article is music to our ears.


Nendo’s policy has always been to rely on data and facts. Consequently, this next article about testing your strategy won’t come as a surprise. In it, Tiffany Delmore emphasizes the importance of camping on Google Analytics and constantly tweaking things to see what’s working best. We all know the mantra - what gets measured gets managed.



What to Nibble < 5 min


Instagram recently announced that they are testing a version of the app that hides the number of likes that a post has received. This version has already been rolled out in several countries including Canada and Australia. 

It’s safe to say that we are curious to see what will happen in a world where easy validation is taken off the table. Will we finally be able to be introspective and lead more authentic lives?


The bigger question on everyone’s mind, however, is how and if this will change the face of influencer marketing. This is because influencers may find it hard to secure new sponsorships as brands won’t be able to see their numbers. 

While this has sparked outrage among some of the influencers, the Australian public doesn’t seem to be that bothered. Most, in fact, have joked that this is an opportunity for influencers to ‘find real jobs’.


We have to keep in mind however, that social media is just a tool that amplifies inherent human behaviour. Hiding numbers does not stop people from being aspirational or admiring beauty or a lavish lifestyle (whether it’s real or not). 

Even if Instagram shuts down entirely, it’s possible that we would find a way to be influenced through a different platform.


The potential downfall of influencer marketing, however, may not be so accidental. Lia Haberman, formerly VP Audience Development at Livestrong, notes that hidden likes could result in a spending shift away from influencer marketing and towards paid advertising on Instagram. 

“This will likely increase the number of ads as brands look for more exposure and make it difficult for anyone but established influencers to get a foot-hold.” Less money for influencers and more ads for Facebook? Seems a bit coincidental.


What do you think? Let us know on our Facebook poll whether you agree or disagree with the new way of doing things.



What to Bite <10 min


Instagram is not the only app that has people rioting. YouTube content creators in Europe have threatened to unionize in a call for more transparency from the company. It’s interesting to witness social media platforms increasingly being held accountable. This is likely to become the norm as more people see the value of data and access in this digital age.

Photo credit: AJ Colores


Speaking of data, is your phone listening to you? In a statement to The Guardian, Apple acknowledged that “a small portion of Siri requests are analyzed to improve Siri and dictation.” I previously wrote in our State of Mobile Data report that I estimated iOS by Apple to be more secure than Google’s Android. I’ve heard that’s not entirely true and this goes to show that you can find privacy issues on whatever platform you’re on.

This means that the conversations you’ve held in your bedroom or boardroom have been ‘reviewed’ by Apple’s contractors. Even though the company says that responses are analyzed in secure facilities, this may definitely have a few of us disable the feature. I drive daily giving Siri all sorts of questions and commands and I don’t think I’ll stop any time son.


However, do the majority of people really mind exchanging data for a feature on an app? If you doubt it, prepare to bite your tongue. This article informs us that a Russian company known as Wireless Lab now owns the images of the 12.7 million people who downloaded FaceApp. 

What is interesting to see is how easy it was for the company to get this data. The numbers go to show that as long as the public gets a meaningful exchange, especially in terms of entertainment, data becomes fair currency.



Bottom of the Newsletter


If you’re a music enthusiast, here’s an interesting chart that maps out which afrobeat songs are topping the music charts.


Any Kenyan with a smartphone might have come across the phrase “wamlambez.” Born from a music video (and possibly an ice cream shop), the word has become cemented as one of the memes of the year. Actor Jamie Foxx, musician Christina Milian, and many others have been semi-trolled into repeating the ‘answer’ to the refrain. 

1: Wamlambez!

2: Wanyonyez!

The word is being played and inserted into the most unexpected places. People are walking around Nairobi in apartment blocks, city streets and anyway chanting it and expecting people to reciprocate despite its somewhat raunchy meaning. When Teresa May was leaving 10 Downing Street, a Kenyan was right outside and chanted the infamous call-out to her (expecting her to respond). Belva Digital gives a great summary  of the extent of the trend. 

So what makes a video go viral? Experts theorize that it’s not necessarily the material that matters (e.g. whether it’s a grumpy cat or a catchy song), but rather what the material does for the audience. 

Dawkins, who specializes in memetics , has the unique view that as humans, we are merely hosts for these ideas and that they compete to survive just like any living organism.


What’s similar across the board is the ease of remembering the meme. Most viral phrases are rhythmic, almost musical or have a catchy hook. Think of your ‘rat on the haiweii, ‘all my guys are ballerz and your ‘Ako Nyeri memes. 

In 2017, I did a +20 tweet long thread on the #GitheriMan meme and this meme is different in that it is devolved and it is verbal. There’s no telling where it ends. 

It could be said that they appeal to the childish part of our brains that favour song or funny sounds as a way of learning.


We’d love to know your thoughts. Comment on our Facebook page to let us know what you think or write just to say hello. It’s always appreciated.

Until next time,

Mark and Team Nendo







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