BLAZE started off as an initiative by Safaricom to create a product specifically aimed at making the brand more attractive to young people.

Transcend Media’s claim of copyright infringement rebutted

It is now emerging that Safaricom’s BLAZE campaign that has generated a lot of heat was the brainchild of Scanad Group, contrary to reports alleging copyright infringement by Transcend Media Group (TMG).

TMG claims that its intellectual property rights were violated, a charge that has not only reinforced the firm’s litigious reputation, but also continued to erode any remaining goodwill that the company may have enjoyed in the corporate world.

However, interviews with insiders privy to the matter reveals a water-tight process, where TMG appears rather late in the day, when the bulk of the creative work had already been done and the closest TMG came to ‘touching’ BLAZE was when they were invited to pitch for the execution of the project, a pitch they lost to Saracen.

BLAZE started off as an initiative by Safaricom to target the youth by creating a product specifically aimed at making the brand more attractive to young people. A review of documentation relating to BLAZE evolution shows the mobile operator conducted a youth consumer research via a workshop last year on September 2nd, and a couple of research companies – Millward Brown, Youth Dynamix (YDX), Consumer Insight and The Grass company – were invited to the one-day event.

Blaze concept
The evolution of the Blaze campaign.

Safaricom settled on YDX as the youth research partners, and as a result, the youth platform proposition was finalised the same month. Scanad was the briefed to develop creatives that would appeal to the youth.

Some creative iterations were explored with Scanad, and a few names selected, top among them RYZ, which tested well with consumers. However, the name had already been taken up by Multichoice and was therefore unavailable for Safaricom’s use.

Parallel pitch process

The telco was forced to start the process all over again, and on January 28, 2016, Scanad was again tasked with coming up with new names, and after rigorous brainstorming, a couple of names were chosen, among them BLAZE, which was available at the company names registry. BLAZE was tested with consumers and it passed. Once again, Scanad developed some creatives that were presented to Safaricom’s Brand Council on March 15 this year but the work did not pass muster with the telco bosses.

Around the same time, Safaricom had started a parallel pitch process for a second creative and digital agency for youth. The agencies were given the same brief that had been shared with Scanad to come up with BLAZE.

Following the conclusion of the process, four agencies made it to the final stage of making a presentation to Safaricom’s Brand Council. Those who made the cut were: Saracen, Seven Brand, Brain Wave and TMG, with presentations being made on March 2, 2016.

Saracen must have impressed the members of the Brand Council and three weeks later, the work was awarded to the young firm. Following the awarding of the tender, Saracen was briefed to restart the BLAZE creative that Scanad had already developed, and, as they say, the rest is history. The output from Saracen is what was eventually deployed to the market.

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The road taken by BLAZE

Below is a chronology of events leading to BLAZE hitting the market

  • Safaricom initiated a Youth consumer research process on 2ndof September 2015 via a one-day workshop with four research companies – Millward Brown, Youth Dynamix, Consumer Insight and The Grass company.
  • Youth research pitch conducted and Youth Dynamix (YDX) chosen as the Youth research partners.
  • From the research, youth platform proposition finalized on 1stDecember 2015. Scanad briefed to develop the creatives.
  • Creative iterations with Scanad done and a couple of names came up. RYZ tested well with consumers. However a name search in January 2016 revealed that variants of RYZ had been trademarked by MultiChoice in the Telco category.
  • Safaricom restarted the creative process with Scanad on 28thJanuary 2016. More names were put on the table including BLAZE on 29th January 2016.
  • Scanad developed creatives with a couple of new names including BLAZE. Names were tested with consumers starting 4thFebruary 2016.
  • BLAZE as developed by Scanad was one of the strong contenders with consumers and Safaricom decided to carry out a name search on 2nd February 2016.
  • Scanad presented final creatives for BLAZE to the Brand council on 15thMarch 2016. The Council found the work was below par.
  • In parallel, Safaricom had started the pitch process for a second creative and Digital agency for Youth on 25thJanuary 2016. Pitching agencies given the same youth proposition brief that had been shared with Scanad to come up with BLAZE. The brief was shared on 25th January 2016.
  • The Top 4 agencies who made it to the Brand Council presentation were Saracen, Seven Brand, Brain Wave and Transcend. They presented to the Brand council on 2ndof March 2016.
  • Tender was awarded to Saracen 23rdMarch 2016.
  • When Saracen the award, they were briefed to restart the BLAZE work that Scanad had developed so far.
  • The output from Saracen completing the BLAZE work started by Scanad is what was eventually completed and deployed to the market.


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