Working in the marketing and advertising industry is one of the most prestigious jobs of the time, as most people enjoy the ‘celebrity’ kind of status by appearing on TV, newspapers and billboards.
You become famous all of a sudden and everyone is asking for the money you earn from the job. What people do not know is that most of these ‘celebs’, most of whom are youngsters, end up being paid peanuts or nothing at all as Kahawa Tungu‘s investigative desk will reveal.
One of the notorious organisation refusing to pay its employees is the Hue Experiential which worked with Unilever Kenya during the Royco Mama Mboga campaign 2019.
This desk learns that the workers have not been paid for four months, with Hue pointing fingers at Unilever as per Whatsapp communications obtained by this desk.
Another rogue market agency accused of not paying its staffers is the Yellow Moon, which worked for the East Africa Breweries Ltd.
The agency has not paid its clients for over four months now, since “money has not been released by the client”.
The company is owned by former Marketing manager at East African Breweries Limited (EABL) Mulwa Mbai.
“There is this marketing agency called Yellow moon. We have worked for them in different East African Breweries Limited (EABL) products i.e. Johnnie Walker Green Label, Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve, White Walker, Tusker Premium Ale, Bailey’s and Singleton. Most of us work to be able to survive, pay our bills and eat. We have been begging for more than 4 months now to get paid, but it has all been in vain,” says one of the brand ambassadors.
Our investigative desk noted that a similar case is being witnessed at Centrestage Marketing Agency, which has not paid its brand ambassadors for over a month.
The ambassadors activated Fruitful, a product from Excel Chemicals, but the agency has been paying them with promises of “next weekend”.
“It has been over a month yet we haven’t gotten our pay yet. They don’t even communicate on the exact date which we should be expecting our pay. ‘This weekend’, has been the story they’ve been giving,” says one of the brand ambassador.
Treasure Communications Limited was not left out of the list, having not paid some of its staffers since January, despite having allegedly received money from its client, Kenya Breweries Limited.
The staffers are said to be overworked till late in the night, and any question concerning pay amounts to expulsion.
“We have never been paid since we started the project. We work late into the night. If you ask about payment they remove you from the group. Some have worked since January, 2019 and have never been paid. Yet the client Kenya Breweries Limited has apparently released money,” says a staffer who sought anonymity.
In a blog post, another staffer painted a picture of struggling staffers at BrandWorld Ltd, where workers get their salaries at the mercy of the owners.
According to the blog post seen by this desk, salaries can be delayed for over two weeks or even months, not because the organisation lacks money but for mere intimidation purposes.
“BrandWorld has held on to people’s salaries for months and continues to do so to this day. Some have pursued legal action; some have held off the legal route for fear that deliberations will prolong the settlement, but at some point you have to realise that waiting for an out-of-court settlement will one day outweigh the time it would take to settle in-court,” writes Mathew M.
Any efforts to follow up are met with cold shoulders as the HR managers care less.
“I have e-mail chains addressed to the HR and finance department that look like I’m talking to myself. Constantly requesting an update. Not demand of payment, just a simple update to indicate what the status of my dues is. An update to discern whether I am on their docket at all or have they swept me and my brothers and sisters under the rug,” he adds.
The company is said to have recently bought a printer worth millions, ignoring workers’ calls and requests to have their dues paid.
Seemingly, the marketing and advertising world is creating a culture of not paying the people who represent their faces, that could backfire in future.
This is not the first time such an issue is cropping up. In February 2018, Kenyan models came out to expose the rot in some agencies, that had refused to pay them.
Some leading brands were badly exposed, which chose to dissociate themselves with the agencies that worked for them.
The campaign was led by former Miss Kenya World Sheila Kanini.
Kanini took to social media to uncover the filth in the Kenyan modelling industry talking about default payment and sexual assaults. She even dropped some shocking names in the process.