Kenya copying bad habits from the west


A caller rang into a local radio station recently and recounted an incident in which his vehicle rammed into the back of someone else’s car on a busy highway. He claimed he was distracted by a giant billboard of a scantily dressed woman.

This may sound like an isolated incident, but in what is increasingly becoming the face of Kenyan advertising – bolder images of sex are being used. Be it giant billboards, glossy magazine pages of skimpily dressed women or bare-chested males, radio adverts with plenty of sexual- innuendo and television images exposing a lot of flesh.

‘ I’m afraid it is the trend, but it’s good from a business perspective. It’s all about branding. That is what our clients want, to grab the attention of more customers,’ responds Maria Wanja, when asked if advertising in Kenya is becoming too sexually oriented. She is an employee of a leading Nairobi outdoor advertising firm.

Extra edge
Opinions about the use of sex in advertising is divided amongst Kenyans. Some argue that business is competitive; they say in order to gain that extra edge over the competition one needs to employ all tactics.

‘ What does buying a new phone, body lotion or a car have to do with nudity and sex? Poses Anne Wacera, a Nairobi resident. Wacera believes this trend is offensive.

‘ It is sheer sinful exploitation of women especially.’ Says Omiku Peter, a local pastor

‘ There is nothing wrong with the images, the problem is people’s twisted perceptions. Once you start imagining beyond the images, then you are the problem,’s ays Seth Okoth, a university student.
While opinion is divided what remains evident is that more advertisements with sexual overtones are appearing in the Kenyan media.


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