Models have for a long-time been the prime target of marketing campaigns by various companies and associations.
Drum Beat with Godwin Muzari
Because of the greater appeal of beautiful ladies, marketers engage models to sell their products and services and the trick has proved efficient.
Although a number of organisations that represent women often denounce this trend as an abuse of women, especially when images accompanying advertisements are of semi-nude women, a number of models earn more through such marketing contracts.
Because they earn a relatively low income on the ramp, most models make a living and marketing engagements.
At least that is the general situation in most countries were showbiz is vibrant in all main arts genres.
In Zimbabwe, the modelling industry is a sad tale.
It is a tale of dethroned models that go partying without regarding their professional values.
The tale becomes unbearable when a prime pageant like Miss Zimbabwe, which is supposed to be the face of the country’s beauty, folds.
It is a tale of models that go for days without a decent meal when they are in camp. It is about models that are reduced to prostitutes as they are booked in cheap city lodges.
We have a tale of numerous directionless pageants that crop up and fail to run for more than two editions.
It is even worse when sponsors shun the pageants because they are not up to the expected standards. The situation is pathetic.
The problem is not lack of beauty in the country but poor organisation. When Vanessa Sibanda relocated to South Africa, she made headlines for getting lucrative deals from leading companies.
Very few local models have good stories to tell about working with the corporate world. Former Miss Zimbabwe Malaika Mushandu is among the few. She got contracts from a number of fashion retailers and a bank. That was a huge achievement by Zimbabwean standards.
Here, models are mostly known for winning titles, yet they benefit very little from their crowns. It is sad to note that most models that have won prestigious titles have either quit modelling for other professions or are now jobless.
A few modelling agents that groom models are mainly producing ushers that are hired to stand at venue entrances and smile at guests during public functions.
The industry seems hopeless. Maybe that is the reason why companies are now turning to musicians for endorsements. Of course, it is common globally for celebrities from various social disciplines to get endorsement deals, but the situation here is worse.
Celebrities that get priority in campaigns and advertisements are models. Unfortunately, even if local companies wanted to engage models, everything in this industry is just haphazard.
Bongani Dlakama is still the reigning Miss Zimbabwe by default (because this year’s pageant is still to be held) but she has had a nightmarish reign because the corporate world has shunned the pageant.
It is interesting to have musicians like Alick Macheso, Sulumani Chimbetu and Oliver Mtukudzi getting most of the advertising contracts when beautiful ladies are modelling in the streets.
When a cigarette manufacturing company thought of hiring a lady for their advertisements, they had to turn to dancer Beverly Sibanda.
Unless pageant organisers become more vigilant, local models will never get opportunities to make money from their looks.