Less than a year since they signed the Huawei Mobile Devices from rival Tell-Em PR, Redhouse Group’s subsidiary Mediaedge has lost the account.
Up until October last year, the Huawei mobile devices account was handled by Tell-Em. Then in March this year, Tell-Em lost the mobile devices account – which it had handled for over 2 years – when Mediaedge were picked by the Chinese ICT firm to act as its PR agency for its devices unit.
While Mediaedge has been handling devices, Oxygene has been taking care of the Corporate side of the account in matters PR.
(TOP: Derrick Aelnga, Retail Manager Huawei Kenya – left -: Adam Lane Senior Director Public Affairs Huawei and Velma Delila – right – use the Huawei Mate 10 Phone during the launch of the Mate 10series into the Kenyan market. The event was handled by Oxygene as the contract with Mediaedge had already ended).
But now, it seems the honeymoon between client and agency ended even before the guests invited to the wedding ceremony could leave the venue of the reception. During the duration of the partnership between Huawei and Mediaedge, the firm launched about two devices locally – that is the Huawei GR3 2017 and HUAWEI P10 Plus.
There were a number of times when Mediaedge, as the PR agency for Devices, would notify the media about an upcoming product launch only for the event to be later handled by Oxygene, the Corporate PR agency, with no Mediaedge representative in sight during the said event. A clear case of overlap of roles.
Again, whether it’s been a case of overlap or otherwise, Oxygene has over the last few months looked the ‘busier’ agency when it comes to the Huawei account, always sending out releases, some of which we felt could have been circulated by Mediaedge (the Devices and Product PR agency).
Our curiosity was raised recently when Huawei partnered with online retailer Jumia during the launch of its latest high-end device, the Huawei Mate 10 as part of Jumia’s Black Friday sale. Like in previous occasions, it’s Oxygene which handled the event. Of course by the time of the launch (November 22, 2017), the Devices account was no longer at Mediaedge as the contract had already been terminated.
These developments have led others to speculate that Oxygene could be angling and position itself to eventually sign up the Devices account as well, thereby enabling to have the whole Huawei Kenya account to itself.
“I wouldn’t know about the decision about Oxygene…but I was reliably informed that they were just asked to do the Mate 10 since they didn’t have internal ‘capacity’. But probably that’s where it’s headed…the fact that they work with the main decision maker , Huawei CEO , makes it easier for such a conversation, furthermore Corporate rarely has anything to do,” said a source privy to the developments.
Could this turn out to be the case (and Oxygene eventually gets the whole Huawei account), then Oxygene’s strategy of first chipping off and moving away with part of an account – before coming back for the remainder – will be something worth paying close attention to by other industry rivals, more specifically Ogilvy. Remember that in September last year, Oxygene signed up the Corporate PR side of the Safaricom, leaving Ogilvy to only handle Product PR for the telco.
And again, it’s worth noting that it’s not only Mediaedge which has had its PR contract not renewed – or terminated, depending to whoever you speak to – by Huawei. Even Ogilvy Digital which been the firm’s digital agency for a number of years, also had its contract not renewed.
Meaning that apart from Oxygene, for corporate PR, the firm’s other PR and communications matters are currently done internally.
The departure of the Huawei devices account from Mediaedge now leaves Redhouse Group with LG as its IT products account.
According to those in the know, Huawei has apparently not renewed its contracts with a number of suppliers.
The firm is also rumoured to be undergoing an internal restructuring and cost-cutting process. This has seen the firm’s former head of mobile devices in Kenya, Mark Hemaobin, being replaced. Also replaced was the head of procurement.