Fresh Kid, the youngster who has taken the Ugandan entertainment world by storm, is looking for a PR/Communications firm to represent him. Over the Easter weekend, he sent fans wild with performances that put many of his older counterparts into the shade. People wanted to literally gobble him up! With an endearing energy, he rapped, sang and danced and even for the pessimist, there was no doubting the inherent bags of talent bouncing about before your eyes. Stardom is written all over him.

A steadily growing fan base means his celebrity status is rising in leaps and bounds. This is the kind of positive buzz that attracts commercial interest, because it can also translate into higher sales of goods and services. It is just a question of tapping into the right niche and packaging him. Admittedly, few in Fresh Kid’s age group have disposable income to speak of. Then again, several studies, (especially among middle and high-income families), have shown children are exerting a stronger influence on what their parents buy.

Going by the vast of number of adults turning up for Fresh Kid’s shows, all this might not matter at all. Obviously, he has exceptionally high public appeal. But before we all get excited and begin thinking up ideas and projections, let me state clearly that the introductory sentence is not true. The seven year-old wonder is not looking for any PR representation, but consider if it were true, would you put in a bid for the account?

At the moment, Fresh Kid’s minders and promoters only see money, money and yet more money. What the parents think is anyone’s guess. Probably they are just as overwhelmed as everybody else and have no definite plan in place. Yet the opportunities are mouth-watering. As a focus for a media campaign, Fresh Kid offers huge potential in the form of social capital. On the other hand, in a case like this, there is a minefield of various explosives composed of moral and professional ethics.

How do you market a minor who should in all sincerity be in should be school? Can we truly label Fresh Kid a role model? There is nothing wrong in being a musical talent, but do we want all our seven year olds to dump their school knapsacks and dash off to the stage? Celebrities shape our aspirations which means PR professionals have to be cautious about Fresh Kid. There is the strong probability that employing him as a marketing tool, may eventually ruin his life altogether.

Teachers at one prominent primary school in Kampala, were appalled when it emerged Fresh Kid had been offered a full scholarship. They worried his presence would distract other pupils. They are probably right. Just over 250 years ago and at just five years old, the composer and pianist, Mozart, was already a prodigy. During his long years of fame, Mozart was treasured for his works and not how to influence what people buy. Times have changed. This is the 21st century where some businesses will latch onto almost anything as long as it makes a positive change to their bottom line.

So where does this leave Fresh Kid and PR firms?

Best to steer wide of each other, because at the end of the day, he is just a kid and do you really want to be accused of employing child labour?

About the Author: Mulinde Musoke

Mulinde has had a long and distinguished career in journalism. He received specialized training from Associated Press, The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Reuters and Thomson Foundation and headed up the Business Desk at The New Vision and later edited the Procurement News magazine and the East African Businessweek.

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