“Niko Na…” The Making of Safaricom’s Epic TV Spot

Having caused quite a stir on Twitter because of a comparison to a similar Qantas ad. Some Kenyans ended up feeling this mix of “I’ve never seen Kenya this beautiful before” with others feeling discontentment that they didn’t get an “original” ad (only when they found out about the Qantas ad, see bottom of post for the video)

Let’s get this all out of the way then.

I’ll tell you that as a “creative person” when it comes to originality vs. relevance, you pick relevance every time, (thanks Alex) can’t tell you how many times this proves itself true, especially if you’re from the 99 percent school of thought. I hate to break it to you, but originality is overrated and there are very few “new” ideas in this world. And that’s in life, not even in advertising. When in doubt, consult Lee Clow’s Beard on Twitter. Wait, but Who is Lee Clow?

Now that we’re over that, let’s marvel in the spectacle that is the new spot that Safaricom put together.


Agency: Red Sky
Creative Director: Justin Connolly – Red Sky
Associate Creative Director: Jerry Nyagah – Red Sky
Co Production: Quite Bright Films Kenya (QBF) & Ridley Scott Associates (RSA)
Producer: Amber Larre (QBF)
Director: Adrian Moat (RSA)
Director of Photography: Frazer Taggart (Freelance)
1st Assistant Director: Dan Prior (QBF)
Production Managers: Evans Gathoga (QBF), James Smith (RSA)
Location Sound: Alex Coutts (QBF)
Grip – Kenya Grips
Composer: Gabriel Omondi – Gabo Productions Kenya

[I’d like to put the full credits so if someone from Red Sky/Safaricom/Gina Din can email me the full creative credits I’d appreciate it]

And of course, below, the “Making Of…” the advert. Lots of twitter chatter of Ridley Scott being involved, (he and his brother Tony own RSA Films) though Adrian Moat was the credited director of the ad. Regardless of what’s what, it’s impossible to argue with the production values of the advert, especially in this market.

Now below are the Qantas Ads, and Michael Joseph, outgoing Safaricom CEO, quoted in Larry Madowo’s tweet and from his own tweet, says it’s the same Creative Director behind the Qantas ad.



The Qantas advert in question is below.

So either one of two things, I’m one of those self-absorbed Mad Men, or I’ve got a point. Go ahead, they put these comments there for a reason…

  • http://knoxnation.com Fort Knox

    Good Point Mark, There Originality is overrated but I don’t think it hurts to get an idea from some where and make it your own. I mean we all do things based on an idea we’ve seen some where or some inspiration we’ve drawn from some other people’s work and that shouldn’t limit us from going beyond what inspired us.

    In as much as I am not complaining about the Safcom Commercial cuz I understand what Advertisement entails, I still believe they shoulda done better in re-creating the concept. something people didn’t realize is that this commercial is not so different from the earlier ‘Niko Na Safaricom’ Commercial, just a different rendition of the song and different scenes on the visuals.

    All in all I still believe it achieved it’s purpose as a commercial. It kept people talking…

    • Mark

      I see your point but this is so relative because they could say that the first bit of the campaign was a “teaser” or a prelude to this Niko Na version. There’s all sorts of ways Ad Men can spin it to you. Will try hear from Red Sky’s team about the thinking and execution for the ad.

  • http://egmgem.com Eric Gitonga

    If anything, this ad has further reinforced my desire to travel all over Kenya and capture its beauty on camera.

    • Mark

      Think that’s exactly what it aims to do…that and get you to stick to their phone service 😉

  • http://WebsiteURL Evans Gathoga

    Credits for the Niko Na TVC are as Follows:

    Agency: Red Sky
    Creative Director: Justin Connolly – Red Sky
    Associate Creative Director: Jerry Nyagah – Red Sky
    Co Production: Quite Bright Films Kenya (QBF) & Ridley Scott Associates (RSA)
    Producer: Amber Larre (QBF)
    Director: Adrian Moat (RSA)
    DP: Frazer Taggart (Freelance)
    1st AD: Dan Prior (QBF)
    Production Manager: Evans Gathoga (QBF) James Smith (RSA)
    Location Sound: Alex Coutts (QBF)
    Grip -Kenya Grips
    Composer: Gabriel Omondi -Gabo Productions Kenya

    • Mark

      Thanks for this, Evans and congratulations to QBF on putting a great ad together.

  • http://fegi100.wordpress.com/ fegi100

    to all you who only know…Mombasa (north coast), Naivasha (crayfish), Nairobi (buffet park)….get out and go see your country….it’s not being white…it’s being cultured…..originality may have been someone else’ but Super AD nonetheless! For once we have a well executed ad from a Kenyan co!

    • http://www.mark.co.ke/ Mark Kaigwa


  • http://mutuamatheka.wordpress.com/ Mutua Matheka

    I love the AD. Period, I think they did better than the Quantas one, improved on it, so to speak. It made me want to go visit all those places and take such amazing photos as are on the ad. I don’t know if it increased my loyalty to Safaricom, maybe subconsciously.
    One thing is for sure, It got Kenya talking.

    • Mark

      True and from a photographer and artist’s perspective the fact that it challenges you as well is what we want as an industry.

  • http://paper.li/gridenko gridenko

    The ad is awesome if u remove the last 7 seconds (niko na safaricom), it can be used by the Kenya tourism board to market kenya.

    About Qantas…….. well this is what innovation is all about. Its just like saying the samsung’s galaxy tab is based on apple’s Ipad.

    On a related story….. I think the Qantas kids grew up, and got jobs at safcom then did the ad.

    • Mark

      Funny one, Gridenko. I hear you and hope KTB is listening/watching.

  • http://WebsiteURL Nicholas

    U couldn’t have put it better. Originality is overrated. I beg to say this, but most people talk about originality w/ only a superficial understanding of the concept.

    • Mark

      Can’t agree with you more.

  • http://WebsiteURL Kibung

    Well in and on point!

  • http://www.dfaceii.wordpress.com SupremeGREAM

    Funny how alot of those complaining now suddenly ‘know’ so much about the Ausi advert more than they can tell the scenes are shot in Kenya. Here is the best part, they went around the country, copied the most scenic parts of Kenya, pasted them into a mosaic that I would describe as epic, emotional, brilliant and simply beautiful art. It not only markets them, but also evokes a sense patriotism in each one of us. I feel it and I love it

    • Mark

      Well said.

    • Kokiketili

      just a small correction dear…there was no copy pasting. i was there and i travelled nd suffered the intense heat…..but totally agree that it has a sense of patriotism,

      • http://www.mark.co.ke/ Mark Kaigwa


        Thanks for sharing. Glad to have someone who saw it first hand. Cool of you to drop by, so you were part of the cast or crew?

  • http://www.tandaa.net Collins Areba

    I think the fact that most of the creatives are the same makes it ok to look like a previous work of art because as an artist, some bias, thinking and configurations remain even through a span of works, which is how you can distinguish say van gogh from others.

    … and FYI, it made me google and make plans to go check out ol lolokwe! if thats not effective, then i dont know what is.

  • http://WebsiteURL Charmaine Mwenesi

    i think it is an amazing advert, a bit on the overboard side for Safcom… my only problem is that it is too much like the Quantas advert. (they took a section of it and decided to run with it.) Fine it potrays Kenya, but how many people know Kenya like that??? i think they should have just stuck to the ma sonko advert that resonates Kenya and Kenyans very well. HUstlers and Quick deals…. and then they should have used this advert as a CSR advert for KTB or BRAND KENYA or something. how many kenyans will see Kenya from that perspective EVER….

  • http://afrinnovator.com Afrinnovator

    In the words of Steve Jobs quoting Picasso, ‘Good artists copy, great artists steal’ –

    • Mark


  • http://WebsiteURL Robert Mutua

    We all agree its a cool ad yeah……but id prefer it not to resemble some other ad IF THEY WERE GETTING PAID(that much) u know,am just saying.

    • Mark

      True, Robert

      But see Picasso’s wise words above. And you’ll find that a lot of that money’s the technical equipment and post production work, editing, etc. not as much salaries. But I stand corrected on that :)

  • http://WebsiteURL DAVI

    Whooooooooooooooooo thats so great of you .Keep this up.

    • http://www.mark.co.ke/ Mark Kaigwa

      Thanks. Will do. Subscribe to the blog to stay current.