By Jevans Nyabiage
This year’s summer London Olympics will be unique to Kenya in a number of ways.
The world will surely miss one of Kenya’s elite athletes — the late Samuel Wanjiru, who ignited the marathon course.
And while other Kenyan stars will ignite the marathon, the games will not see the defending champion.
Secondly, it will be the first time the Government and local corporates are heading to such a global event to sell ‘A touch of Kenya’ mark of identity.
Kenya is renowned for producing the world’s best athletes. Many, however, admit that although the country enjoys vast talent in the long distance races, not much has been done to utilise this to market Kenya to the international community.
Interest has slowly been growing in sports marketing, with firms such as Kenya Commercial Bank, East African Breweries, Safaricom and Kenya Airways pumping millions of shillings into sports sponsorship.
Statistics place the industry to be worth more than $150 billion, if you include broadcast rights and all other rights. Endorsement is big in the west, but in Kenya it is still in its infancy stages.
“It is far from impressive. I think corporates have under invested in this area,” says Paul Ng’ang’a, the chief executive officer of Catapult Brand Consulting Ltd.
And those that have invested in sports marketing, Ng’ang’a says, have not fully explored its full potential. For a country like Kenya, which is an athletic giant, one would expect a lot more investment by corporates.
“Sometimes I get the feeling that we take for granted what we have simply because we have it. If our runners were in the US or Europe, you would see corporates competing to seek their endorsements,” Ng’ang’a says.