Safaricom apologises over Valentine gaffe
Safaricom was on Friday forced to cancel its valentine season campaign and apologise to its subscribers for sending messages deemed offensive by the public.
The campaign sent out via short messages was meant to encourage subscribers to share music with loved ones over the Valentine season via the mobile service providers’ skiza platform.
The message sent indiscriminately to the subscribers read: “Katia her with a tune for only Sh5 this Valentine.”
However, most users found the language used inappropriate, particularly the use of the word, Katia which means to woo and the fact that it was sent even to women.
The pressure to halt the campaign emanated from social media platform Twitter.
On Friday morning, the firm’s CEO Bob Collymore apologised on the same platform, tweeting to his followers:
“So this morning I’m gonna apologise for the Katia gaffe. We deserve the slapping you gave us.”
This brings to the fore debate on the appropriateness of using bulk SMSs as an advertising tool.
Although the mode has been gaining currency in Kenya, the backlash has been growing and the current win will likely fuel a bigger push for a total stop.
“In doing so, we caused unnecessary offence to a lot of our customers,” said Mr Collymore in an email response to the Saturday Nation.
While terming bulk SMSs as an effective way of communication, he noted that the firm would take significant steps to reduce the number of messages sent by the provider and when it does, it will “do so intelligently and sensitively.”