Doing it like Fareed

I’m not a big fan of X-Fm Djs – I find them annoying. But I love my rock, so I’m glued to the station all day.

Fareed Khimani I have massive issues with. He has a nice voice, and he’s kind of cute, but he has this thing: nag-nag-nag-whine. Also, he can be a little rude – which I guess is the whole point of the show.

I like him for one thing though: he got me to like Alice in Chains. Let me explain.

Some weeks ago, I was in a matatu on my way to work. Almost all matatus like to play The Maina and King’ang’i show, or as I prefer to call it, Matatu FM. Matatu FM has great music, but the presenters annoy me. Their call-ins are even worse. So my morning routine is get into a mat, plug in my earphones, tune in to X-Fm, and crank it loud enough to drown the matatu.

Yes, I expect to be deaf soon.

Anyway, I was listening to Fareed, and he started talking about how he was going to play the coolest song ever, and how it would get us all jumping, and how if we didn’t like the song, we were boring.

He hyped the song five more times before he finally played it – twice. It was just a regular rock song, and I didn’t get what the hype was about. But because he’s said it so many times, the name stuck in my head.

The name of the song in Man in the box, by the rock band Alice in Chains.

Later, he picked out his favourite part of the song, which is the riff-and-chant in the beginning. He played that bit over and over again, explaining how cool it was and why.

Then, he declared it the ‘May Traffic Song’, and for the next one month, he  played it two or three times a show, usually after the traffic update. I learnt to expect the song, and within a few days, I’d learnt some of the words.

I still have no clue what the song is about, but when I eventually found myself singing along and enjoying – even loving  it, I was amused. The song in itself didn’t impact me, but hearing Fareed get so excited about it, and having it played so often, I guess it grew on me.

So here are some business lessons we can learn from this cute, annoying man.

1. It’s all about hype

Create awareness of your product, service, or business. Make it a big deal. It can be word of mouth, hot air balloons, luminous rollerblades, a regular twitter account, glow-in-the-dark vuvuzela, anything really.

Your product doesn’t have to match the hype, but it will get noticed. And once prospective clients notice, you’ll have a foot in the door. That’s always a good place to start.

2. Be persistent

Fareed’s song didn’t impact me the first time I heard it – or even the second or third. But on day 2, I noticed it’s great walking music, and by day 3, I liked the words to the song. They are so fun to yell to.

Keep yourself in the client’s mind. Make follow-up calls, get sponsored in prominent places, remain visible.

3. Be consistent

The thing with this song is it doesn’t change. You’ll hear it a million times and it sounds exactly the same. You might pick a word or note that you hadn’t heard before, but the content is the same.

Once your client notices you and starts to like you, be sure that the thing they like is always there. Going herbal can sometimes be a bad thing.

4. Tap into mnemonics

People make links in their heads, often without knowing it. Baby girls get pink, little boys get blue, metro kids wear orange, valentines means chocolates, roses mean passion and love. There isn’t any specific reason for this. They’re all just trends that caught on.

Fareed go me to associate man in the box with traffic. So every time I’m in a jam, I wait to hear the song play, even when I’m tuned to a different station.

Associate your product with something popular, or trendy, or common, something with staying power, something that clients see every day. They’ll become conditioned to your work. That’s why in Kenya, all detergents are ‘Omo’ and all margarine is ‘Blue band’.

5. Stand out

This song has a great riff, rebellious lyrics, and an interesting beat. But more than that, the band has an amazing name. It’s hard to forget anyone called Alice in Chains. Why is Alice in Chains? What did she do? What kind of chains are they? And more to the point, who the- is Alice?

Have your product stand out. It can be as simple as giving it a catchy name or colour, or as complex as making it actually good. You could also pull a saf-com and make it really, really ugly.  After all, cute fades – just look how quickly we get bored of babies.

Either way, pull a Krest with it and stand out from the crowd. Make it memorable.

Speaking of sodas and pop music, there’s a Sprite advert on TV that has teenagers ramming each other and making bubbles. At some point, a really prettylady makes a stage dive.

I have no clue what the advert means, but I love the music behind it. Does anyone know what it is?

Crystal Ading’ is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through

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  1. fareed khimani says:

    This is pleasent to read!!


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