Money, alcohol and nightlife: why promotional modelling and ushering is becoming more lucrative


Hi guys,” two hot and sassy models tease.

The men are bowled over by the heart-warming smiles and sexy outfits the girls are wearing. Glances are exchanged and you can tell that this night out at Nerkwo Restaurant in Nairobi’s South B will be a happy one. The girls lighten up the mood.

“Today we have a special promotion for Johnnie Walker Red Label whiskey. A bottle of 750ml is going for Sh2,500. That will be served with two sodas and a plate of roast goat ribs,” one of the lasses urges the men, taking the guys off the Black Label bottle they have been taking.

“We honestly don’t do Red, but we will buy two bottles if you promise to join us for the night. Damn! You are so pretty,” one of our table members takes the bait as he stretches his hands towards one of the girls begging her to oblige. Glances and smiles and laughs are exchanged some more across the table. What a night.

The two beauties briefly join the table. Two Red Label bottles have been sold!

A light social conversation is on and the men are having a good time. But this does not take long as the 'Red Label' girls have to get back to business and promote the brand before their appointed working time expires. By midnight, they should have sold 15 bottles each according to their contract.

“We can join you after we are done. We have like 20 more bottles to go so you will kindly excuse us. But we promise to be back,” the taller one of them requests as she gathers her whiskey basket. The men are not letting go!

“Then give us your numbers please,” one begs. The girls oblige.

“Or do we just buy all the bottles then you join us right away,” the other one suggests before prolonged laugher cracks through the table. The entire club is watching. This is becoming the life of the party.

Beverage and alcohol promotional models and events’ ushering is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative jobs for young college girls and graduates who are now working with agencies in the business.

With alcohol brands now facing a do-or-die competition as party lovers opt for whiskey brands, you will hardly visit a joint at night and fail to find promotional girls pushing some of the popular brands, and some new ones, in the market.

From Hennessy, Johnnie Walker, Jameson whiskeys, Vodka brands and other popular alcohol brands, all are now sourcing services from promotion agencies to have beauties push their products. You will get to your regular joint and find a girl in sexy tops written, ‘Red Bull Girls’, ‘Bacardi Girls’, ‘Vodka Girls’, ‘Tusker Girls’ and other beverage promotional models who have been enrolled in specific brand groups, some as product ambassadors.

And the girls seem to like the night job. In their shapes and colours, branded in sexy outfits that are all about the brand on promotion, they hit the club and take control; capturing everyone’s attention. This is a fun-while-minting-money kind of outing, they would still be here spending cash with friends over the same drink.

From showbiz concerts, club lounges, VIP parties, sporting events and the like, it is no longer about the traditional and regular waitresses. The face of the hot model has now taken over.

One of the most popular groups right now supplying such promotional models is Eric Omtere’s Nairobi Models group, a group that brings together more than 100 models from across the country who have literary dominated promotional jobs in clubs and other showbiz places.

On a daily basis, Omtere, who runs his own modelling agency, get offers from clients to provide the services of the promotional models and posts the jobs to the group where models confirm their availability before a final list is drawn.

“This has become a lucrative business for young girls who have cleared high school or college. I get over ten new recruits every week, models asking if they can join my agency,” Omtere says adding that his agency is now working with a number of beverage and alcohol brands as well as clubs to ensure that the brands and outlets maximise on the venture.

According to him, agencies have rate cards and payment differs in amounts according to the agreement and nature of event. As the go-between between the models and the club or events owners, he says agency owners get paid directly or get the girls paid according to the contract agreed upon.

He also says that payment also depends on time spent during the promotion, nature of the job and time the activity is being carried.

“On average, promotional girls get Sh1,000 for a night event. Some agencies do pay Sh500 while others pay Sh2,000 according to the nature of event. VIP parties and sponsored events have better budgets than clubs but, it is also common sense that more jobs are in the clubs and that means more opportunities and more money,” Omtere notes.

“It is common sense that there are not many jobs that will pay you to have a nice time, meet prominent people and make new friends. Girls like it,” he says.

Omtere says that some of the models have taken promotional modelling as a fulltime job.

“This is what I do for a living. It is what pays my rent. I have been doing club alcohol promotions as a model for two years now and I get about five jobs per week,” says Nimoh, a 24-year-old college graduate who together with her friend Jane work directly with club owners.

“We used to work with an agency but no more as we can secure jobs by ourselves now through the contacts we have created over time. On average, I make Sh6,000 on weekend promotional jobs and about Sh5,000 during the week days.

“The good thing with doing whiskey or beer promotions is that you are not limited to one client. On a given week, you can be working a promotion for Bacardi and the next week for Hennessy. That means the more aggressive you are, the more cash you make as the jobs are readily there. Personally, I am always out there almost on a night-to-night basis and I love the job as it is also fun. I have made so many friends and important contacts while doing promotions,” Nimo informs us.

Asked how she treats men who hit on her because of the sexy display, Nimoh says: “All one has to know is where to draw the line. It is normal and fine for models to get hit on by men in the club. It is the nature of the business. As long as this does not go too far. I see nothing wrong with it.”

“In fact, when you go to those corporate events, you are paid to entertain the client. For example, some will want to take photos with you while others will ask for your mobile number. What you do and how you react is a matter of conscience,” she adds.

For Diana, a promotional model who is also a PR student in a leading university, the job is not only a source of income to supplement for her expenses like payment of campus fees but also a training avenue to help her gain confidence, which is a key aspect in her profession.

“I am using this platform to help me boost my confidence as the job allows me to constantly face people with different personalities’ some who will give you complements and yet others will treat you negatively.

“I am young and I love partying and so I feel good doing something I like. Many men seem to admire me while on the job and that gives me an amazing feeling as it lets me knowing that I am good, which boosts my self-esteem. It gives me a great sense of adventure,” says Diana.

Among the leading product-promotion brands in Kenya is Leakey Odera’s Pambazuka Models, Chris and Kate Kirwa’s and True Blaq.

We move to the new Level 7 Lounge at NextGen on Mombasa Road where we meet Wilfred Odaga of EXP.

On this Friday evening, the lounge is full of activity and Odaga is setting up the promotional table at the entrance of the club where several ladies in short sexy white dresses join him. On this night, they are doing activations for Singleton whiskey.

The models seem to be having a good time as they approach revelers from one table to another, enticing them to buy the brand. This is what these girls like doing; promoting alcohol brands.

“On weekends, this is what we do for different clients who approach us to help them sell their brands. I spend most of my weekends doing this. Today I am here at Level 7 and tomorrow I’ll be at Ridgeways doing the same for a different client,” Odaga tells us as he continues to set up the table and giving instructions to the models whom he refers as “my ladies”

“EXP works like a modelling agency where the girls audition for the marketing positions and after they’ve made the cut they’re trained on how to handle different clients in different capacities.

“The clients choose where they want us to do the activation. At times, the marketing company helps them pick the perfect locations for the activation but in most cases the clients do the picking. After picking the location where they want the activation to be done they also pick the kind of models they want,” he says.

Faith, one of the girls doing the Singleton activation at Level 7 on this night tells Pulse that she took three interviews before getting the job. One was with the EXP marketing company and two others with the client. After the interviews, together with the other models, they were taken through training and then sent to do the activation.

“Basically, the clients set a target for the night and sometimes we don’t hit it but we are still paid for the job. This, however, leaves the client disappointed,” Faith reveals.

Lucy, who is among the girls doing the Singleton promotion on this night says she has been on the job for two months now and her parents are comfortable with her doing the night job.

Some of these models use Instagram as their portfolio where they post different photos of themselves posing with different brands while in most cases, models are notified about different activations jobs through WhatsApp groups they have formed.