Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Jan 23, 2018

Huawei turns cell towers into photo perches in Kenya

A campaign with a landscape photographer and the country's top telco, Safaricom, put a new twist on the 'rooftopping' trend, producing impressive images and earned-media coverage.

Huawei turns cell towers into photo perches in Kenya

Huawei has tried to elevate—literally—its corporate identity in Kenya. A campaign launched at the end of November for the Kenyan market marks the first time Huawei has allowed outsiders to climb telecommunication masts co-maintained with the country's top telco, Safaricom. 

A team led by landscape photographer Mutua Matheka took photos of Kenya’s landmarks from vantage points at various Huawei/Safaricom cell towers—using only the Huawei P10 mobile phone and timed by the Huawei Watch 2.

Matheka looked like he was rooftopping, but instead of posing precariously off the edge of buildings in pursuit of social-media fame, he was taking panoramic snaps to promote both Huawei's consumer and carrier businesses (after appropriate safety training).

Huawei KOL in Kenya, Mutua Matheka

The creative objective to "show the world a Kenya from a new point of view" aside, the campaign's primary purpose was "to enhance Huawei’s relationship with Safaricom and the people of Kenya", according to Xavier Wong, global creative director at Huawei’s public affairs communication department. 

Wong and an internal creative team at the Chinese brand developed the work (five videos, eight final photos, 27 posts, and one minisite), supported by Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong's social-media team.

"Taking and sharing picturesque Kenyan photos from the tops of the cell towers doesn’t sell anything directly. We were trying to create something so beautiful, from structures that are so industrial," he said. 

Imagery showing surroundings of Ngong Hills, Hell’s Gate National Park, Naivasha, Nairobi, Timau, Mombasa, and Samburu were the results of exploring fresh perspectives of Kenya, a natural extension of Huawei's 2017 'Exploration' umbrella branding. (Read more at: Huawei's new global corporate brand swagger)

The use of the Huawei equipment demonstrated the "holistic nature of our technologies (not meant to drive direct sales, just positive awareness), mirroring core values we believe in – collaboration and shared success," added Wong.

Safaricom aired the videos on three national Kenyan channels at its own cost of US$130,000, said Wong. Kenya Tourism Board also picked up the campaign, as did a variety of local Kenyan news outlets. It is an "unusual case of digital media influencing traditional media", pointed out Wong.

Huawei has for the past 15 years found a warmer welcome in Kenya than in the US, where wireless carrier AT&T recently backed out of a deal to distribute Huawei phones. The Huawei Ideos phone, unveiled through Kenya's telecom titan Safaricom in 2011, was well-received and reportedly garnered 45% of the local smartphone market in its first quarter of sales, according to the authors of Digital Kenya: An Entrepreneurial Revolution in the MakingHuawei also revealed plans to make Kenya its regional HQ for the East African market this year.

The campaign scored 46 million impressions between November 27 and December 8, largely on Huawei’s international Facebook page, Twitter and to a lesser extent, Linkedin with only 0.32% engagement, summarised Huawei.

Campaign China

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