Native advertising; Vivo Energy Billboard

Native Advertising; A Case Study of Vivo Energy Kenya

Allow me to applaud Vivo Energy Kenya-the Shell Licensee in Kenya, and Magnate Ventures for coming up with this engaging billboard ad. In fact, I must confess the first time I saw it on my way to work, I paused and laughed. Not that it was funny or nonsensical but rather the ad not only provoked my thoughts but also bore a striking resemblance to it’s surrounding; a concept commonly referred to as native advertising. Mark Senteu, Vivo Energy’s marketing manager and his team must have put their backs into this.

Vivo Energy’s Native Advertisement: Some Background

For a minute or two, as you drive up Valley Road, just at the Ralph Bunche junction, you’ll catch the perfect alignment of an ad with its environment in the form of Vivo Energy’s billboard.
My colleagues say I’m not the only one who is impressed with the ad. Apparently, Vivo’s billboard went viral sometime back on social media. But what is all the excitement about?

I think the virality of the ad can be attributed to two main factors;

  1. The image on the ad closely resembles the tough ascent on Valley Road creating an exciting blend that draws attention to the billboard without shouting ‘I’M AN AD LOOK AT ME!’
  2. The ad copy ‘What Hill?’ is not only humorous and daring but also communicates clearly to drivers who are already using Shell V-power and indeed agree that the ascent is not a challenge thus boosting customer loyalty. It also relates to those with revving engines struggling to pull the weight of the car up Valley Road, that Shell V-power is the solution they are looking for. How smart is that? Offering a solution exactly where they pain point is felt most.

But perhaps more important than the placement and ad copy on the billboard is that Vivo Energy Kenya made careful considerations to ensure the advertisement provides value. I mean I got the gist and laughed. As for the struggling driver, they’re probably considering Shell V-power. Those already using the product are asking ‘what hill?’ as they zoom past the billboard.

                              Again, kudos Vivo Energy Kenya!!

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Native Advertising and Digital Campaigns


Similarly, when it comes to digital marketing and online ads, it’s important to consider the concept of native ads, where you create an ad the blends with the environment of the ad placement.

At its core, ‘native advertising’ refers to ads that resemble the publisher’s surrounding content in some way. This can include the ad’s shape, colour, formatting, location, tone, and contextual relevance.

Native ads make complete sense especially when you consider the high rate at which everyone is blocking ads. We are blocking ads so hard; I didn’t even know my browser was blocking ads until some website politely requested me to turn off my ad blocker.
But who wants hard-selling, irrelevant and intrusive ads anyway? We want something to make as pause and think or smile 🙂

That said, as a digital marketing strategist, I have started to explore this concept in our ad campaigns. Native advertising may work for Vivo Energy Kenya, but can it work for Legibra? A website design and hosting company?

As Seth Godin puts it, the only marketers who will succeed in this digital economy are the ones who are willing to take risks to drive innovation. After all, progress doesn’t happen by sticking to best practices- it happens when you create new practices, and then better practices emerge.

Here’s to marketing that builds trust and connections.

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