Classic 105 presenter Maina Kageni is a brand, a big brand. Every morning, millions of listeners tune into his show to follow and contribute to his latest topic of discussion. What you might not have realized is that Maina spends around three-quarters of his show’s time slot advertising products and services. At one moment he’s telling you about land being sold somewhere at a discount, the next moment he’s telling you about a private university’s unique courses. It’s all big bucks for his employer but Maina gets a huge portion of it as well. It doesn’t all go to the company. He does the work, he attracts the advertisers, so he gets a commission. Add that to his basic salary and you have one rich fellow.
You might have noticed that the big adverts on Classic 105 are run by Maina alone. When he’s on leave and Larry Asego steps in for him, the ads disappear. Why so? Why him? It’s because Maina is the brand. He’s a salesman and journalist all in one package. He’s the persona with the huge following and the skill to make his fans listen to what he’s saying.
Maina has gotten to where he is through controversy. He’s the forty-something year old guy who isn’t married. The subject matter of his show doesn’t go down well with everyone but they still tune in. The subject is sex and relationships and Maina uses that as a selling tool. If Maina held discussions about the economy every morning instead of talking about the crazy things that happen in marriages, all those adverts won’t be there. They won’t be there because there’ll be no audience.
Main keeps courting controversy and people tune in. people love controversy, The huge numbers translate to good business. Knowing when to court controversy is a hot topic in the advertising world. It’s a risky strategy, and how much advertisers can get away with is constantly changing. Maina though has gotten away with it for most of his career. Despite the fact that there are thousands of people who think Maina’s show should be scrapped, that can never happen unless he, himself decides it’s time to retire.
There’s no such thing as bad publicity, after all. Or is there? It depends, mostly, on how much courage you have to flout the norms and standards that apply to your particular target market. For brands like Maina Kageni, “bad” publicity gained from controversial ad campaigns has done them a huge service, getting them 10 times the amount of attention and raising product and service awareness through the roof.
So it’s true that Maina’s brand became a success because of controversy and subject matter. The question is; Does controversy help build a business? In a way it does, only if you know how to spin your way around it. Controversy boosts buzz but too much reduces it. That’s why all the sexual stuff in Maina and Kingangi in the Morning is diluted by the fact that he plays a lot of gospel songs during the show, Controversy makes things more interesting to talk about. Plain things are boring. So a little dispute keeps discussion simulating.
Maina has mastered his craft and that’s why he is where he is today. He has something for other businessmen to learn if onl they look keenly.