Companies should tap into comedy to engage their audiences

Inspekta Mwala and other fellow commedians and Artists during the 60th Jamhuri  Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens Nairobi, on Tuesday, December, 12, 2023. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The Kenyan comedy scene has evolved in fascinating ways despite the uncertainties associated with diversified audience needs. A high percentage of Kenyans continue to be convulsed by the instigation of new spellbinding forms of comedy skits and memes. Consequently, comedians such as Njugush and Crazy Kennar have flourished in their new style of comedy which not only appeals to the ‘Gen Z’ but also the Millennials, pre-eminently known as the ‘Gen Y.’ Comedy has now evolved to take centre-stage in addressing contemporary issues including corruption and governance.

Memes have also been used to hilariously delineate topical issues in the country. Extraordinarily, no day goes by in Kenya without the ‘meme lords’, as they are customarily known, whimsical captions with chuckle some photographs on social media.

Additionally, there has been the introduction of digital content creators who utilise online platforms such as the Kenyan dictionary which generally decodes meanings of the commonly used Kenyan sheng/slang phrases. The increased relevance to the audience portrayed by ‘memes’ has made the genre a big hit. Many credit Daniel 'Churchill' Ndambuki’s Churchill Show for igniting the rise of stand-up comedy in the country.

The industry has since evolved into communities such as Punchline Comedy Club which is a creative collective based in Nairobi that brings together creatives of various disciplines under an umbrella with the aim of providing opportunities for the creatives through their featured shows such as ‘Down to Clown’ and ‘foreplay’.

The stand-up collective launched in 2017 as the incubators of English language and experimental comedy in Kenya and beyond aimed at growing comedy culture and creating a community of comedy lovers by leveraging off their websites and social media platforms to market and reach out to their audiences.

Brands across the globe have also recognised the tremendous power of comedy as an effective marketing tool that not only captures attention, but also creates a strong emotional connection with their target audience. One notable example of a global brand that has effectively embraced comedy for marketing is Old Spice. The Iconic Men's grooming brand redefined its image with a series of hilariously absurd commercials that quickly went viral.

Locally, Gilbey's has taken a proactive stance in aligning with the comedy landscape to connect more with consumers. Understanding the intrinsic link between laughter and positive experiences, the brand has partnered with the comedy industry to create a series of engaging and laughter-inducing events.

As marketers and brand custodians, I strongly believe leveraging humour and wit, can help break through the clutter and leave a lasting impression. We need to take comedy as a marketing tool that can help boost engagement with consumers and tap into humour's universal appeal. This approach not only helps brands stand out in a competitive market but also positions them as catalysts for positive change within society's cultural fabric.

It is my believe that comedy has the potential of fostering meaningful connections with consumers and create memorable experiences that extend beyond the realm of products.

Ms Ndung’u is the Senior Brand Manager, Gilbeys, at Kenya Breweries Limited