Performing Arts

VVIP concerts take centre stage


Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris and Nathan Morris of Boyz II Men perform onstage. FILE PHOTO | AFP

“Can I get a VVIP ticket for the Boyz II Men concert?” I ask Lilian Onyach when she finally strides in, finding me patiently waiting at the Stanbic Bank Kenya’s headquarters boardroom lounge.

“I am afraid not, unfortunately, they are all sold out, not even the VIP ones are available,” with a Duchene smile, she responds as she takes a seat.

The American RnB greats band of Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris and Nathan Morris jet into Kenya on Thursday ahead of the much-hyped Stanbic Yetu Festival concert.

The extravaganza, which will also have Kenyan celebrated band Sauti Sol perform before the quartet part ways, is scheduled for Saturday, at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi.

Ms Onyach says when the VVIP tickets for the event went out retailing at Sh30,000, they sold out within 72 hours while the VIP ones at Sh15,000 each sold out in less than a week.

For the regular, the only tickets still available the price is Sh8,000.

“The quick sale of VVIP tickets, which were only 600 really surprised us, then we had 1,200 VIP tickets, which sold within six days.”

Ms Onyach is the Head Consumer and High Networth, at the Bank and as the main sponsor, she is in charge of curating this luxury event alongside Somoina Kimojino the General Manager at Homeboyz Radio and Radio Africa Events.

Listening to the honcho enunciate, it’s clear the idea is to curate an event that would ignite awe and exquisite emotions.

For that to happen, the best way to get the job done would be to inject into the event some much-needed luxury.


Wanya Morris (left), Nathan Morris (centre) and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men. FILE PHOTO | AFP

A lavish event will get people talking and in that, Stanbic aims to solidify its reputation as a “cut above the rest”.

When the ticket pricing was announced a month ago, Twitter exploded with divergent views emerging over the very very important person (VVIP) and very important person (VIP) charges, reactions that Ms Onyach says were a confirmation of a hit rather than a miss on their part.

“By the time we came up with the ticket price, the question was, what is the experience we want to create for our affluent consumer? I want to give them a five-course menu meal, I want to give them the option of champagne or whiskey.

“I want them to have a reserved designated parking slot very much closer to the arena. The table placement is also important for us. I want them to walk into their designated table, which by the way will have their names indicated. I want them to have the best view of the podium, I want them to have a spacious space to dance should they feel like it without bumping into each other. We want them to feel the ambience. This is the VVIP experience I envision so why not Sh30,000 for such a package?” she posed.

After injecting Sh25 million to finance the second edition of the Yetu Festival last year had American singer and songwriter Anthony Hamilton headline the concert, this year Stanbic parted with Sh35 million.

For Stanbic, as far as Yetu Festival is concerned, profit margins aren’t the focal point here but rather positioning the brand by appealing to its consumers.

“Brands have pumped even more than that in terms of positioning their brands and building their brand assets. The most important aspect for us in this venture is longevity, to see how long can we keep up doing this with the intention being to do it for a much longer period and as we upscale the creative industry we also position ourselves as a go-to brand, a win-win kind of a situation if you know what I mean,” says Ms Onyach.


Lillian Onyach, Head Consumer and High Networth at Stanbic Bank Kenya, during an interview at the bank's Headquarters in Westlands, Nairobi on June 6, 2023. PHOTO | WILFRED NYANGARESI | NMG

The first edition of the festival happened during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We called it Kenya Yetu, it was a virtual concert broadcasted by all Kenyan TV channels. This was the time Kenyans were having cabin fever, there was a restriction of movement, so what we did was get a few artists to the studio, recorded them and then aired that both on TV and online,” she explains.

With the rise of corporates now joining the entertainment sphere as partners or curators of events, having only been sports-oriented in the past, Ms Onyach maintains their aim is not to compete with anyone but create exquisite experiences for their consumers more so the high-net-worth clients.

“Having done the first physical edition and seeing the response from the audience, we thought of doing another.

“Besides the audience, part of the ethos we stand for is to promote the creative, arts and culture and as a bank, we marked music as a passion point which resonates with many people, that’s why this year’s edition we upscaled and brought in even bigger acts than the previous one,” says Ms Onyach.

She says sports is also another area where the bank has over the years invested a lot in, especially in athletics.

“We recently ventured into golf, you might have seen some brands taking on golf series but for us, we are not doing that. We are looking at, where is my customer. We organise as little as a tournament in Kitale, to one in the affluent Muthaiga, we have structured ours in a way that we have many small mini-series. If you really want to be seen as a brand that is driving the growth of the country, you need also to do what people are passionate about,” she says.

Recent Spotify data seen by the Business Daily shows that Boyz II Men music streams increased in Kenya on the platform by 416 percent since the announcement of their concert, with a high number of Gen Z contributing to the surge.

I am keen to understand what Stanbic makes of the report, given that the past two Yetu Festivals appear to target a high net-worth audience.

“Where we are as a brand, we acknowledge that we are very good in the affluent and high-net-worth space and for us it’s important to understand the passion point that will connect with this segment of customers and, in a silent way, remind them of the brand, as the top of the mind brand,” says Ms Onyach.


The Boyz II Men jet into Kenya on Thursday for the much-hyped Stanbic Yetu Festival concert.PHOTO | POOL

Having attracted 2,000 revellers in the last edition, she expects at least 6,000 people on Saturday.

And even before the event kicks in, there are already talks to bring in American RnB legend Toni Braxton.

“These are the kind of feedback we are already receiving from consumers to have Toni Braxton and Usher Raymond in the next edition. We might as well have platinum tickets in the next edition, which people are invited to buy and the price is not revealed. For this, we might have an exclusive experience concert for the few platinum buyers before the main concert,” she says.

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