How Huawei is Collaborating Locally and Making a Global Impact with #ExploreKenya

We’re all tired of corporations glorifying their own products. Today’s consumers want to see creative, experiential content that doesn’t sell a product rather the company offers a value-driven solution. Click To Tweet

How can a large corporation, like Huawei, be bold in spirit and promote their innovative ideas without selling?

Huawei is certainly not foreign to traditional marketing and sales campaigns. In the past few months Huawei’s Mate 10 release including their industry-leading AI , and their simple innovative redesign of one button for the MateBook X, highlights the company’s impressive efforts to inspireand reach new heights.

Several weeks ago, these impressive pictures started coming through my social feed from Huawei.

After seeing some of the initial jaw-dropping pictures,  I reached out to Huawei (I’m part of their global Key Opinion Leaders network)  to learn more about #ExploreKenya.

Huawei Unveils Their #ExploreKenya Campaign

The goal of the campaign was simple: to redefine Kenya.

In this groundbreaking Huawei-developed campaign “Kenya: Exploring a new point of view” the company brought the country’s era of transformation to the forefront.

Kenya’s modernity, diversity, and beauty became the focal point, which was shared by millions around the world. It is a unique collaboration between Huawei and its client, Safaricom, with Kenya Tourism Board lending support.

How could Huawei enable an entire region to be the focus of a campaign and still highlight the company’s connectivity across Kenya?

Give the country a ‘facelift’ by showing new angles of the vast lands of Kenya.

Photography has a unique way of changing perceptions of a place, simply by presenting images that we’ve never seen before.
By offering an exclusive vantage point of Kenya-  the land from the peaks of the Safaricom Base Stations (2/3 of the country’s cell towers use Huawei technology)- Huawei was able to collaborate with their local partners, source a talented photographer that excels in this setting, and utilize the company’s technology and devices to capture the entire country.

At the launch event held at Huawei Kenya’s Head Office, Creative Director for Huawei globally, Xavier Wong, said the campaign demonstrates that the real destination is the journey of exploration, and the results from the expedition, are just part of the natural discovery process.

By exploring the power of openness and collaboration throughout that journey, that we are able to overcome challenges, even failure, to create incredibly beautiful results that, not just Kenyans, but the world can appreciate.

Learning More about Huawei and #ExploreKenya

As a Key Opinion Leader, I was privileged to ask the initiators, as well as the photographer, some questions and get more background.

It’s truly remarkable how a global brand, like Huawei, is able to balance growth, impact, and success across many regions in such a natural and collaborative manner.

What efforts has Huawei made in Nairobi to make such an impact?

2/3rd’s of the Safaricom sites in Kenya use Huawei’s equipment, including all the ones used for these shots. Huawei helped provide 2G, 3G, 4G, 4G+ as well as fiber to the homes together with Safaricom across Kenya (and many other solutions for Safaricom including a city-wide security project, leading mobile money platform M-PESA and more). Kenya now has 95% 2G coverage and 75% 3G coverage and significant 4G coverage, much of this because of Huawei with Safaricom, and it is transforming lives and transforming Kenya into a leading tech center.

What narrative was Huawei aiming to achieve by telling the story in this creative way? 

The cell towers that connect all of us are now connecting with us. Some call them “Lattice Structures”. They may not be the prettiest things but we believed something beautiful could be created from them. We’re tired of corporations glorifying their own products, so we turned the view 180 degrees away from our cell towers for once.

It also clearly demonstrates the immense coverage Safaricom, with Huawei, has over Kenya, across even the most unexpected of locations.

The power of digital connectivity for the masses is redefining Kenya, and the final photos from this project are doing exactly the same.

It’s national art with great meaning to her people, but also a visual art with a valuable corporate purpose.

Why Kenya?

Africa is often depicted as a continent plagued by war, disease, and famine.

So internationally acclaimed architectural photographer Kenyan photographer, Mutua Matheka, set out to explore and capture his country (and Africa in general) from new heights—literally.

Kenya is going through a great era of transformation and evolution — starting with Ngong Hill’s renewable energy sources, to empower the lives of her people. These vantage points were selected from over 4,000 base station locations across Kenya, including the tops of high-rise buildings in Nairobi.

Creative Director for Huawei globally, Xavier Wong stated that “each location was chosen for its uniqueness, beauty and timelessness with shots in RAW format by the Huawei P10 dual-camera smartphone with Leica lens, with sunrises and sunsets timed by the Huawei Watch 2 wearable,”

Wong said, adding that, “over 7 days, across 2,500kms, crossing some of the most beautiful places on earth, the images by Mutua Matheka showcase Kenya’s progress, future, diversity, spirit, and culture.”

How was the photographer, Mutua Matheka, selected?

Our international team here supports the global market, and we chose Kenya because of its spectacular progress and recent advancements – she is more than just the natural beauty and wildlife we’re so familiar with.

Mutua Matheka stood out as, not only was he a member of Unscrambling Africa (which aims to change the image/impressions of the continent), he’s also a renowned architectural and landscape photographer, with a genuine architectural background. Also, he wasn’t afraid of heights, which is quite important to this project!

Mutua Mathek said that “Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is where a million paths cross to drive and transform the city towards an intelligent future…There must be a greater power watching over Kenya, since she has been so blessed to retain so much of her natural beauty, history, and culture,”

Why did Huawei choose the p10 (as opposed to another device)

The P10 is one of Huawei’s 2017 flagship products – not because it’s a 100% Huawei product. But because it really isn’t. It’s the result of a collaboration between Leica and Huawei. The P10’s Leica lens delivers astounding photo quality, and shoots in RAW formats, which holds a massive amount of visual data for professional photographer use. It delivers DSLR quality. And as it’s a fraction of the size of a full DSLR camera – when climbing the cell towers, a P10 is probably much more versatile than a DSLR (although he did climb up with both in the end).

Was the photographer guided in any way in terms of content?

Yes, he was creatively directed by our team – I (Xavier Wong) was there to guide, direct, supervise and advise on the journey. It’s necessary because this is a corporate identity project, and a piece that’s also important to our client Safaricom.

We would arrive at a location, Mutua would climb up the structure and take test shots. As test shots were shared with the team on the ground, we’d discuss on-site how to make each photo meaningful to Kenyans.

Mutua has a great eye for visuals, and I provided the background thinking and copy for each shot (aka art and copy in creative agencies). Photos like “Eye of Kenya” (sun over Naivasha), “Winds of Change” (sustainable power windmills) and “Devil’s Breath” (since it was at Hell’s Gate) were born. This gave each photo a specific character and purpose.

The local team was invaluable, as they advised on locations, availability, and timing. As a whole, it was a great team effort, and I am thankful everyone was on the same page.

 

Mr. Matheka, as the eyes of this entire project, what are your thoughts on the #ExploreKenya campaign, initiated by Huawei?

I am always seeking a fresh, new angle on Kenya and I was delighted to have this opportunity presented by Huawei to explore Kenya from a different point of view.

It is something that has not been done before, something exciting and something bold. You don’t know what Kenya would look like from almost 100m up until you explore the possibilities.

It was not easy: from the safety training course to rough roads and climbing the actual towers themselves but it was all that hard work that made discovering each shot so meaningful. For some sites, the sun wasn’t visible and for others, we even had to go back a second time to access them, but exploration never stops at failure.

He later described his seven-day expedition as both new and exciting.

What Do Your Partners Say about this Campaign?

The photos not only demonstrate Safaricom’s broad coverage of Kenya as a whole but also shows how well-connected Kenya really is, even in the most remote and unexpected of locations.

Safaricom’s Corporate Affairs Director Steve Chege lauded Huawei’s efforts towards this innovative and educative project.

“We are delighted to have partnered with Huawei Technologies on this project because it captures not only the hidden beauty that lies within the country but also our continuing quest to expand coverage across Kenya. We believe that each one of our over 4,600 base stations represents an opportunity for our network to Transform Lives. Beyond providing essential connectivity, our towers are often the only link to critical services such as education, health, financial services and government services.”

Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala, said that “This campaign will help us create a new narrative for our tourism products. The great news is that there are people in Kenya today (including Mutua Matheka) who are already building a great narrative for our country. They are creating, conserving, building, training and investing to build their story. They are winning awards, writing books and shooting films about what they are doing. And I salute each and every one of these people,”

Huawei believes that a bold spirit of exploration can reveal; exciting journeys leading to innovation, inspiration, and ideas. Directed by a keen sense of curiosity, exploration is the spirit that energizes and empowers the future to a better-connected world.

Huawei Kenya CEO Stone Hi summarized the success of this Huawei-driven campaign, which also encapsulates the company’s continued efforts to get into partnerships that foster exploration and innovation such as #ExploreKenya.

“Together with our customers and partners around the world, Huawei is exploring the unknown, inspiring new ideas, and facing challenges head-on to break through bottlenecks in future technology”

If you want to learn more about #ExploreKenya and the Huawei initiative visit the dedicated minisite.

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