Last week, as US President Barack Obama was coming to Kenya, CNN ran a story referring to this country as a “terror hotbed”.
This angered both the government and citizens, prompting Kenyans to launch an online war on CNN with the trending Tweeter hash tag #SomeoneTellCNN.
The government, through Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery, demanded an apology from CNN, saying the report was inaccurate and “based on lies”.
“Our attention has been drawn to a media report by CNN earlier today seeking to discredit the status of Kenya as a secure nation. This announcement is based on lies and is without verification,” Nkaissery said.
Later the Kenya Tourism Board said the one-year advertising deal between Kenya and CNN has been suspended.
The deal was announced by CNN at the Indaba travel event in Durban, South Africa, one of the continent’s largest tourism expos, in May this year.
The long-term strategic campaign to promote Kenya began with digital advertising on the Travel section of CNN International’s website, with KTB spearheading the promotion.
The digital activity followed by integrated advertising across the CNN International network includes two bespoke 30-second spot advertisements both on-air and online.
“Yes, the deal has been put on hold, but please talk to the managing director to give you the details,” said an officer at the KTB, who cannot be quoted by name because as he is not supposed to speak to the press.
KTB managing director Muriithi Ndegwa told the Star on the phone he was out of the country and would reply to our queries later in the day, via text message.
However, by the time went to press he had not responded to the text messages.
Meanwhile, CNN are said to have sent their marketing consultants to hold meetings with the government over the botched deal.
At the same time, hoteliers at the Coast praised the cancellation of the CNN advert, saying nothing good was going to come from it.
“This was long overdue, CNN has been consistently running stories that are meant to undermine Kenya as a tourist destination of choice,” said Sam Ikwaye, the Kenya Hotelkeepers’ Association Coast executive director.
Mohamed Hersi, the chair of the Kenya Coast Tourists’ Association, said, “We cannot be spending money on a channel that is negatively covering the destination.”