Kenya reinstates tourism advert deal with CNN


Tourism secretary Phyllis Kandie launches the ‘Make It Kenya’ national brand campaign in the company of former Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura (left) and businessman Chris Kirubi at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre on September 22, 2015. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

The government has reinstated a multi-million dollar advertising deal with broadcaster CNN that was suspended in August in protest over a terrorism remark made by the global news station.

CNN raised a storm after it aired a documentary just days to President Barack Obama’s July visit, describing Kenya as a “hotbed of terror”.

The allusion saw Kenyans take to the social media to rebuke the American television network, while the government cancelled advertising it had booked with the station to market Kenya as a favourable tourist and investment destination.

Tourism secretary Phyllis Kandie on Tuesday said the lucrative advertising deal was restored after CNN’s global executive vice president and managing director Tony Maddox, apologised to President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi.

“Mr Maddox flew all the way to Nairobi from Atlanta to personally deliver the apology to President Uhuru Kenyatta. The President agreed to it and CNN will continue to carry our advertisements on their network in a continuing re-branding campaign,” said Ms Kandie during launch of “Make It Kenya” digital website in Nairobi.

READ: CNN boss flies to Nairobi to apologise over terrorism slur

Make It Kenya is a new international online marketing campaign that will precede all other existing platforms that showcase Kenya’s tourism affluence and potential globally, she said.

Loretta Ahmed, the chief executive officer at Grayling, a global PR company contracted for the Make It Kenya online portal, said the global brand is a digital gateway to attract visitors to the country and sustain them.

Ms Ahmed pointed out that there have been a number of tourism campaigns which were started but never pursued to their conclusion, a trend she said must be changed if tourism is expected to grow.

“There are quite a lot of campaigns in Kenya that start but do not finish. We need this one to be huge. We want this to be a campaign that has longevity and builds to become a national brand.”

The first campaign is live on Nat Geo channel. The Make It Kenya portal also features on Nat Geo website’s homepage that has more than 2.5 million visitors monthly, she said.