In GOD DID, Jay-Z raps “OG sold to those, you called kingpin/If those your drug lords, then who are we then?”

A year or two ago, I was reached out by one of these nominated agencies to prepare a digital strategy for a campaign for one of Tanzania’s biggest telcos. It was a rush. I was contacted in the morning and the next day morning was pitch day. Fuck! I cursed. But I did what I could.

So, the next day we pitched after minutes of being put on hold by the people on the other side. They were waiting for some of their members to join the meeting. We pitched. I doubt they were listening.

It was clear to me that this agency was wasting time. The telco already had an agency in mind. But this agency was glad they even got the chance to pitch. Because in Tanzania, agencies don’t compete on competence. It’s something else.

I’m glad I was paid for my time.

A few weeks later we saw a campaign done by another agency. It was so normal the only way you could deem it successful was by taking solace in the number of impressions. Not the conversations it managed to start.

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The funniest thing to ever happen to me in 2023.

On the evening of October 26, a hilarious thing happened. A fool from the Tanzania Marketing Science Association called me. “This is [name] from TMSA. I’m calling to inform you that you’re nominated for the Tanzania Marketing Awards. I want to confirm your attendance tomorrow”

But we were not nominated. Nothing that I heard of. They posted the list of their friends as nominees and I got a call a day before the event. How could they make such a blunder? I shared about this in this post. Allow me to feature some of the comments:

…niliandika kuhusu Hawa. Wametengeneza kundi afu kikundi kinajiamulia nani apeww kazi ipi…Kwamba usipokuwa mwanachama hupati…what happened to free choices…

Nick O. Kesera

…many winners in this ‘system’ owe their success primarily to aggressive promotional efforts rather than the quality or excellence of their services. Regrettably, this has the effect of misleading the public, as it often rewards mediocrity rather than recognizing deserving service providers.

Gabriel Gidion

Reminds me of a time I saw one of my acquaintances who had done nothing in Marketing getting an Award for the same, just because their organization contributed to the event.

Abdulrahim Damian

By the way, the Tanzania Marketing Science Association should be called for what it is — Tanzania Association of Marketing Lobbyists.

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The Underdogs

My agency is younger than these nominated agencies. But in the past four years, we have beat all of them on SEO. We are number one on organic search. None of these nominees even make it to the second page of Google Search results. But you are being told they are the best.

Our Swahili articles reign supreme on digital marketing-related queries. Every day, tens of Tanzania’s small digital entrepreneurs read our actionable articles and leave “thank you” comments. Ask the nominees to show you their Search Console Analytics, if they even know what that is.

If you come to LinkedIn, my agency is the most followed Tanzanian agency. We beat all of the nominees on important metrics like engagement, and impactful writing. You won’t even see most of those nominees on LinkedIn.

Smart Codes is not smart enough to even get three comments per month. And that is the effort of both humans at the agency and ChatGPT.

Don’t even get me started about me. I am the most followed Tanzanian marketing professional on LinkedIn. I have authored a book that has sold TZS 1,187,600 in the first two weeks of launch. I have all the transactions in case you’re doubting Thomas.

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All that demonstrated competency in the open, online market but we didn’t even show up on their list of nominees. Our only fault is that we are sons and daughters of the dispossessed nobodies. We hate the soul-selling approach of lobbying and simping to big corporations.

“I think mediocrity is too well hidden by parents who hire private tutors. I am here on my own.” My favourite quote from Industry by HBO

Thankfully, I get clients from foreigners who judge from what they see not who knows who. Sometimes I get clients from diaspora Tanzanians or outliers who hate the endemic Uchawa system that has plagued the agency landscape in Tanzania.

Next time you see these awards, just know that it’s a cohort of chawas gathering to give each other little pats on the back. All of the nominees here are also unashamedly the sponsors of the awarding body. Who do they take a Tanzanian public for, fools? 

If God forbid one of these individuals holds higher government positions, it is time to weep.

This article was first published on Shukuru’s newsletter, the Social Rhetoric.

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