The Agency


He was a chef in Paris. Then he was a farmer. Then he was a door-to-door salesman in Scotland. He’d go around selling cooking stoves and making a killing at it. He was so good, in fact, that his boss asked him to write an instruction manual on selling stoves for other salesmen.

He wrote one and titled it, ‘The Theory and Practice of Selling the AGA Cooker’. Thirty years later, Fortune magazine dubbed it the finest instruction manual ever written.

Still, life was turbulent for the Oxford dropout. He was briefly a farmer and a member of the British Secret Service. He liked flowers, and he knew them by their Latin names. He loved words and big ideas. And he was the one the world would come to know as ‘The Father of Advertising’.

David Ogilvy was almost 40 when he started one of the biggest ad agencies in the world. He was broke, with a wife and a kid, and a list of five big clients he hoped to bag: Shell, General Foods, Campbell’s Soup, Bristol-Myers and Lever Brothers.

It took 11 years to get them all.

Soon he had IBM and Rolls-Royce knocking on his door.

His agency, Ogilvy & Mather, was founded on one of his principles: The function of advertising is to sell and successful advertising is based on information about the consumer.

He was once quoted saying, “The customer is not a moron, she’s your wife.”

In February 2019, 20 years after Ogilvy’s death, with barely any experience, you started your first day as a copywriter in an ad agency. The idea of a nine to five appealed. You couldn’t wait to get the show on the road. It was the perfect way to escape the monotony and general unpleasantness of school, if only for a year or two.

Well, it’s been three months now, and it seems you’re still fumbling about. You still feel like an outsider. Your biggest client is yet to show satisfaction with your work.

‘This copy cannot fly’ is a sentence that appears many times in your inbox. Almost equal to the number of ‘Let’s have this by COB today’.

God, is there an uglier acronym than COB?

Still, you’ve picked up a few things about being in the ad agency.

A client brief could come at any time
That coffee date you had planned with someone’s daughter could be cancelled at the client’s behest. That Saturday plan with your boys could quickly go to the pits. All it needs is some corporate shmuck pressed about missing his targets.

The brief could hit your Email at 5.30 p.m., just as you were about to clock out. And it creates a level of urgency bordering on the anal before politely ending with, “Kindly let’s have this tomorrow morning. Regards, Corporate Shmuck.”

You love to hate it. You really do.

Your copy, no matter how good you think it is, will count for naught if the client doesn’t like it
It really doesn’t matter if you employed some clever word play. You can communicate effectively and capture the product in all its glory. You can read about David Ogilvy as much as you want. But the client has the final say.

A lot of your words may end up in the trash bin.

Don’t take it personally.

 A manager who understands both the client and the creative process will save you lots of time
Otherwise you’ll have lots of back and forth on why the comma is absolutely necessary and the why the word ‘literally’ couldn’t possibly achieve what it hopes to.

You need a manager who knows the road to hell is paved with adverbs. At least.

 It can get hectic. Having good people around helps
When you pick up my bag and come to work in the morning, you always think, Hm, what would happen if I just called in sick and spent the day in my boxers watching ‘Family Guy?’ I mean, who is going to die if that post doesn’t go up?

But then you remember you’re lucky to be working around wonderful people. You share a desk with four other guys and it’s always a jolly good time. Your bank of inside jokes is steadily growing. The ‘Kijana fupi amenona round’ speech? Yup. That cracks you guys up every time.

Whenever the spirit takes you, you play loud music and it’s not entirely surprising to see a can of beer whenever you’re working late. You’re seated within speaking distance of HR, which is a bit like being the prefect’s desk mate. HR doesn’t mind your crass comments about the long hours.

You’re a lot more apt to notice an ad, and be a lot more tolerant of it.

You will sell shit you can’t afford
My first assignment was to sell a Visa card for a bank. This card could grant you access to airport lounges with free travel and medical insurance and discounts on golf equipment. My target was people who had crazy mortgages and upwards of 5mil sitting in their bank accounts.

The target was way out of my league.

The way I go about this, I think of myself as a door-to-door salesman. I pull out my charm and turn on my golden smile. I wear brogues and happy ankle socks. Then, when the target opens his door, I bullshit my way through.

It’s yet to work.

Which brings me to my next point.

It’s a bit like the devil’s work
I’ve never been to an advertising class, but it seems a lot of advertising has to do with desire. You show this person how they couldn’t possibly live without whatever you’re selling. You cajole them into considering your brand of snake oil.

Take one of my clients, for example. She sells chocolate, and she’s rolling out a brand of chocolate targeted towards 25 to 34 year-old men. So how do you tempt a guy to buy chocolate when he only thinks about chocolate twice a year?Many are the minutes I spend sucking on the end of my pencil.

Who knows, maybe if Lucifer had the advertising principles of Ogilvy, perhaps he’d have got Jesus to toss himself over the cliff.

Seeing your words in an ad is like standing naked in front of a mirror.

 You give and give and keep on giving. Small wonder you want a drink at 11 a.m.
You want to please the client. You want to court the consumer. You want to produce your best work and maybe get bumped up to senior copywriter. Maybe have a couple of interns working under you.

During my first week I got introduced to a guy called Fidel, a senior copywriter working in a different department.

Fidel had a monster beard and large hands. He wore leather jackets and he approached copy with a calmness I could only hope to master. Fidel never looked like he needed to go to the bar downstairs to have a drink.

About a month ago Fidel left for another agency.

I’ll look for him and interview him for The Nairobi Millennial series.

One late Friday afternoon, you will find yourself on the back of a boda-boda rushing to a client’s event
You’ll be running late. You will feel the phone vibrate in your pocket from a storm of WhatsApp messages from the client asking why the hell you’re not at the damn event.

“It’s already starting, guy. Let’s be serious.”

You will have told the rider to step on it. You will clench your gluteus maximus as he swerves around the traffic on Waiyaki Way; the wind hitting your face, the sweaty helmet pressed against your cheeks.

And then you’ll suddenly realize how fucking exhausted you are. How drained. And you’ll think, Am I killing myself for this client? What if this speedy boda gets into an accident and I get injured? Will the client send me a get-well-soon card?

Then you’ll put a sock in it and go to work, even though you will have long decided that you’ll not do agency work forever.

And that, for now, you just enjoy the ride.
Follow Mike on Instagram: mikemuthaka

Lights. Camera. Action
While I was away

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Florence Bett-Kinyatti


Columnist Saturday Nation Writer Craft It Author of best-selling ‘SHOULD I?’ and ‘HOW MUCH?’ ~ Guiding word: Overdrive Subscribe to our Newsletter👇🏾 eepurl.com/igmN8P
  • Dear God, 
It’s me again.

I don’t pray as often as I need to, You know that. I don’t kneel by my bed in child-like humility, as Muna does. I don’t whisper a prayer in the morning. Or at noon. Perhaps just in the evening. 

This going-to-church habit is a constant false start. So is reading the Word. 

I’m often guilty but I also know: You and I have a language only we can understand. 

I speak to You through this gift You bestowed upon my Kale shoulders, this gift to write in colour. It’s a gift that sometimes feels like a curse, a burden I have no choice but to pursue. 

Yet other times – most times, actually – it’s the very breath of my essence. Everyday I sit to write, when the words flow from my head and heart through my fingers to the page, I feel You next to me. 

You are here, Lord. Hovering. Lingering. Swooshing about in Your regal robes, like a character from Bridgerton.

Sometimes You get so close I can feel You breathing on my neck and I’m like, ‘Err, God, do You mind, personal space?’

And You chuckle uncomfortably. ‘He-he, of course. Of course.’

I’m here to tell You, Thanks!

I hosted my first in-person event last March, Lord, thank You to all the lovely ladies who granted me their time and full attention. 

I’ve carried them in my heart since and every day, my prayer is that You bring them closer to the life of abundance they each seek. To their own version of wealth. 

I always call them by their name: Becky. Purity. Lindsay. Wangui. Naomi. Shiqow. Mercy. Liz. Winnie. Polly. Nduta. Lynet. 

And Mike. 

Dear Lord, I’m prepping for my next in-person event in June, Inshallah. 

Walk with me as I get there. 

Love always,

  • Highlights from our first-ever in person event hosted by Craft It and @financialfitbit 
Thanks to all the lovely ladies — and gent, hehe — who honoured us with the privilege of their time and attention. And colourful energy. It’s been weeks since and it’s only now that I’m coming down from the high. 

Thank YOU!

🎥 @mikemuthaka 

#craftit #author #MakeYourMoneyMatter #personalfinance #money
  • I am a woman.

I’m strong. I’m brilliant. I’m like a comet shooting across the sky, I’m so bright you have to put on shades to see me.

I’m almost 40, I’m almost fully realising myself as a woman and the power of womanhood I possess.

I’m so powerful that if KPLC connected me to the national grid, I’d power up this country and we’d never have another blackout.

Ho! Ho! Ho!


To recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day today, I’d like to recognize and celebrate eight women.

I have eight things to give away to each of these women:
a) Two tickets to my upcoming event on March 18 with @financialfitbit Theme is ‘Make your money matter’
b) Three autographed copies of my book ‘Should I?’
c) Three autographed copies of my other book ‘How Much?’

To participate:
1. Like this post
2. Tag women who deserve a win of either event ticket or book (tag as many women as you like)
3. Tell us what you’d like her to win and why she deserves the win
4. Make sure your tagged women follow @_craftit and @financialfitbit 

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
— One woman, one win
— Winners will be contacted via DM
— Giveaway closes at the end of this week, Inshallah, on Sunday 12 March
— Only open to people living in Kenya

All the best!

(Swipe right to see the women I’m celebrating.)

#craftit #internationalwomensday
  • My 2022 word of the year was Wholesome. 

Wholesome meant engaging in moderation and in pursuits that didn’t leave me feeling yucky.

An example: there’re weekend nights I’d go out then have too much to drink. On the drive home, I’d tell GB to stop the car every half mile so I could throw up on the side of the road. Then I’d take three working days recovering. 


No more of that nonsense.

Now I have only two doubles of Singleton whiskey and chase it with water. I eat less food and I eat better. I take my supplements. I treat myself to an early bedtime and arise with my body clock, no alarm.

I spend a lot more time hanging with my kids, Muna and Njeeh. 

I buy fewer things. 

I play the piano. 

I created a disciplined routine for my work and take Thursdays off. 

You catch my drift…

Wholesome has become my lifestyle. 

(By the way, I was asked, ‘Where does this word-of-the-year come from, Bett?’ I don’t know about other people but for me, the words present themselves when I’m journaling. My spirit tells me what it needs; I must be still enough to listen and brave enough to obey.)

My word for 2023 is Overdrive.

My two books have unlocked new opportunities for me as a writer and creative. As an urban brand. I’d honestly not foreseen them. 

I know that if I adjust my sails to where the wind is blowing, these opportunities will translate to wealth.

Last Friday, I listed all the work I’m already doing and all the new opportunities – potential and realised – knocking at my door.

I asked myself, ‘What am I taking up here and what am I dropping?’

The response, ‘None – we go into overdrive and smartly pursue them all.’

#craftit #urbanguide
  • Years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Bett, we’re almost 40 – forget makeup, let’s take care of our skin instead.’

I had to laugh because this was coming from Terry. Terry my Kisii pal, this fine gyal with skin the colour of honey, the only practising SDA in my circle. 

Terry had spent her 20s and early 30s sleek with Arimis. That’s right, the milking jelly with a lactating cow on its logo. 

Arimis addressed all her skin pickles back then. It was her problem fixer. Her Olivia Pope. It’s the one thing that always said, It’s handled.

Now here she was preaching to us about a consistent skincare regimen in the AM and PM.


It wasn’t until Terry shared her selfies on our girls WhatsApp group that I stopped laughing. It wasn’t until we stood next her – and took these selfies – that I reeally stopped laughing: Terry’s skin was youthful and toned, plump. Hydrated. Moistured but not shiny. 

It looked like it had been kissed by the Greek goddess of radiance. 

So we gathered around her feet and said, ‘Forgive us, master. We are ready now. Teach us everything you know.’

She did. 

Terry and I now spend plenty of time before work and before bed squeezing out little portions of expensive skincare products from expensive tubes, we layer them on our face in a calculated measure.

This serum here is for the circles under my eyes and the fine lines around my mouth.

Turns out I’ve been giving away too much of my face: I’ve been looking too hard, laughing too easily.

I’ll have to spend the next year into my 40s with my eyes half shut and laughing little. I'll have a resting bitch face.

Don’t blame me, blame the retinol.

And age.

#craftit #urbanguide #urbangirl
  • I’m Bett. I’m the author of your favourite books about money. I’m hosting an in-person event in March, Inshallah: This is my personal invite to you.

#craftit #moneymaker #moneyinkenya
  • I am hosting my first money event this March, Inhsallah. It’s the first of quarterly events I have planned for the year. 

(Give me a moment here so I pull myself together long enough to write this. I’m smiling very hard right now, ha-ha, I look like a donkey.)


The event will be in-person. On a Saturday morning, a loose three hours which, I am certain, you’d have burned on some other pursuit you couldn’t account for later. (I’d probably be oiling the hinges of a squeaky door or decluttering my sock drawer.)

My guest host for this edition is Lynet Kyalo. 

Lynet is a personal finance coach under her brand @financialfitbit She also hosts @getyourbagrightpodcast 

Buy your tickets from our Market.

Early bird tickets are discounted until the end of this month.

Limited slots available. 

#craftit #millenialmoney #moneyevent #moneymaker
  • Sometimes I sit down and read my own book. 

Odd, huh?

Reading my own stories is like an out-of-body experience. Or getting introduced to myself again. An outward journey inward.

It’s fascinating.

I also read because I need to improve my writing for my next project.

We call them the Elements of Craft: things like sentence structure and punctuation, word placement, story length etc, they all inform your reading experience.

This is what makes the book easy to read, and has you turning the pages.

Cop your autographed copy and #betteryourmoney 

#craftit #howmuch #millenialmoney #moneymaker

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