Mr Nick Wachira, the managing director of Ogilvy PR and former business journalist, has now teamed up with Mr Linus Gitahi, his former boss at the Nation Media Group, CEO and owner of the multimillion-dollar consumer products company Tropikal Africa Brands, to start Oxygène Marketing Communications, an advertising firm.
The entrant now promises a fierce fight for the Ksh86 billion advertising market in Kenya, which will reverberate across East Africa least as Oxygène has swooped not just key personnel from Scangroup, but also some of its key accounts.
“Of course I was caught by surprise. But this is a people business and these kinds of things happen all over the world,” said Mr Bharat Thakrar, the chief executive officer of listed integrated marketer WPP Scangroup who admits that this partnership caught him off guard.
“I think the market is big enough, with lots of emerging opportunities. I wish them all the best. These are young people I mentored and it is alright that they should try it out on their own. The only point I’ll make is that we should work professionally.” he added.
The start-up boasts vast experience in media and corporate corporations, with Mr Gitahi as non-executive chairman, Mr Wachira, previously a managing editor of NMG publications, The EastAfrican and Business Daily, and Alfred Ng’ang’a, who headed one of Scangroup’s several media relations outlets.
Other partners at Oxygène are James Makau and Mutahi Mureithi. Mr Ng’ang’a, previously handled government accounts and those of other corporate firms such as Savannah Cement, Equity Group and Simba Corp.
Mr Makau, who left Ogilvy in October last year to start laying the groundwork for the start-up, was the group account director and head of corporate practice. At Ogilvy, he was in charge of accounts like KCB, now one of Oxygène’s clients, Coca-Cola, Safaricom, CBA, and Deloitte.
Mr Mureithi’s previous posting was at PTA Bank, where he served as the communications director.
“Yes, I’m the chairman,” Mr Gitahi said. “I put these guys together, and put in some money, so that I can support them to launch the business and grow it. The team is very good, with a wealth of experience in both media and corporate communications.”