On Valentine’s Day, a young couple drew stunned reactions from passers-by and businessmen around the CBD with the ultimate display of affection. A young lady, identified as Fridah Kariuki, presented a brand new Mercedes worth Sh2.8 million to her boyfriend, Michael Musyimi.
“A lady gave her man a Mercedes as a gift… Yet someone here can’t even give me a peace of mind,” one person commented on Twitter. Others complained about the challenge it presented to them, as they could no longer get away with buying cheap flowers for their significant others.
Others were sceptical, questioning where a young girl would get that kind of money, and whether Kenyans were even remotely romantic.
It has since emerged that the whole thing was a social experiment, designed to create conversation and social media engagement.
Ark Entertainment, the company behind it, has been creating such marketing drives as a new marketing trend. They were behind the story in July 2017 of the gentleman who proposed to his girlfriend at a Chicken Inn/Galitos restaurant and got rejected.
“We approached Gigi Motors with the idea of doing a viral marketing concept, in which a lady would present her boyfriend with a car,” said Njeri Muthaka, a creative consultant at the company. “It was to be on Valentine’s Day, and one of our objectives was to increase their visibility online by creating hype around the situation.”
This was confirmed by Samuel Wanjema, the sales and marketing Manager at Gigi Motors.
“We agreed to the idea,” he said. “Being in the business of selling cars, we provided the vehicles for Ark Entertainment. We have since seen a massive response, both in terms of online conversation and direct sales. We have sold two cars directly as a result of the marketing drive, so it has been very positive for us.”
Njeri adds that: “I want to draw more people to the idea that viral marketing, like what we did with the proposal and now with this, can also drive brands. As social experiments, it is interesting to see how people react to such situations.”
Both the participants in the story are models. Michael Musyimi is a commercial model from Roysambu. Fridah Kariuki is a 4th year student of communication and journalism at Kenya Methodist University, as well as a model and an aspiring actress. They are not actually dating, but are friends, having interacted a few times professionally.
“It was a job like any other,” says Fridah. “I agreed to it because it was an opportunity to try out acting, and because it would help increase my awareness for the projects I get into afterwards.”
The 20-year-old just won Miss KeMu. She is currently single, but she would not hesitate to buy her partner an extravagant gift if she could.
“I can see myself doing something like that, even if it isn’t as flashy as buying them a car. Romance is all about gestures, so even flowers are okay if done properly.”
She advises people to be careful with social media, as it can be deceptive. “A lot of people felt pressured because of that ‘gift’, but the bigger issue is that we should not be so willing to believe what we see on social media.”