Socialites won the attention and imagination of many turning their leisure activities into money-making ventures but as Fredrick Kagonye writes, that was then as this space has now been taken over by models and content creators.
Gone are the days when socialites called the shots. The rise of the Kardashian family came from the infamous sex tape that thrust Kim Kardashian into the limelight as a socialite.
As the fame and fortunes grew, she slowly began to drop the ‘socialite’ tag and adopting the business face. Today you will rarely hear anyone referring to her as a socialite.
Locally, the same can be said of Huddah Monroe, Vera Sidika, Risper Faith, Bridget Achieng, Mishi Dora and Corazon Kwamboka. They are what many might identify as socialites who rose to notoriety by courting controversy, even releasing nudes. Some like Vera Sidika and Bridget Achieng bleached themselves in a bid to become more appealing.
Though the actual details of their ‘deals’ remain murky and they remain tight-lipped, rumour has it that their involvement with the so called ‘business partners’ mostly from West Africa has been an unholy alliance.
Bridget Achieng, in an interview with BBC, talked of sucking toes and doing “crazy stuff” that still freaks her out by men who paid top dollar to fly her out of the country; obviously inferring that many trade their bodies for a good life and ‘business deals’.
In return they slay on Instagram and blogs never ran dry of their stories, from their local controversies, a TV show to images of their international exploits as their travel destinations were goals for others.
However, some of the famous names have now gone under and they no longer cause the fuss they used to with their posts and photos.
They did brand marketing and club activations but today they can only dream of the good old days.
Their spaces in the marketing and influencing world has been taken over by influencers who command large following online that rivals that of the socialites, and the club activations that they prided themselves now belongs to models.
Some of the influencers are bloggers and vloggers who have adopted the fancy name ‘content creators’. This clique is a circle of friends who point each other to jobs. As for the club activations, modelling agencies have found a new venture in this. Wilfred Odaga of EXP marketing says this kind of marketing is called club activation.
The companies hold auditions from where they pick their preferred kind of models. Alcohol companies contract marketing agencies to promote different drinks in clubs.
Some of the drinks that they promote are also on sale in the same clubs they are doing the activation but Odaga says that the company holds talks with the clubs they are targeting prior to activations, which ensures smooth operations.
Those doing the activations in most cases are ladies. They’re tasked with approaching revellers having a good time and present to them what they are selling and try to convince them to take the deal.
“On weekends this is what we do for different clients who approach us to help them sell their brands, most of my weekends are spent doing this,” Odaga says. Those who make the cut are then trained on how to handle different clients in different capacities readying them for the jobs.
“The clients choose where they want us to do the activation,” Odaga says. “At times we help them pick the perfect locations for the activation but in most cases the clients do the picking.” The clients also pick the kind of models they want for the activation.
Lucy, a student in a local university in the city does activations on weekends to raise money for her upkeep. She says she did three interviews before getting the job.
One was with the marketing company and two with the client who was a leading whisky brand at the time. After the interviews, they were taken through training and then sent to do the activation.
“Clients set a target for the night and whether we hit it or not, we are still paid but this leaves a disappointed client,” she says of the success of the activation.
The marketing company pays them weekly and offers them some allowances; the rates depend with what the client has offered. She points out that there isn’t any brand that clients have a preference for; it all depends with how convincing you are as an individual.