A few weeks ago, I did a gig as a promo model for a local sporting event. Since promo modeling is not something I usually do anymore, I decided to do a post about it as not many models know a lot about that industry or what it involves.
First of all, what exactly is a promotional model?
Chances are, if you’ve ever attended a trade show, convention, concert, bar, launch party, etc.… you’ve most likely chatted with at least one promo model and may not have even realized it. Outgoing and personable men and women are often hired at such events to grab potential customers’ attention and make a product or service seem more appealing.
While the models usually aren’t directly employed by the company they’re representing, they are trained to answer questions and provide customer feedback regarding products/services that the company is offering. The responsibilities of the models depends on the particular marketing campaign the company is running and the type of event they’re at. Usually, your duties include increasing product awareness by taking photos with event attendees, providing basic product information (if asked), passing out promo items, and participating/assisting in games to attract potential customers. Promo models may also be used for TV appearances for interviews with celebrities or athletes at film or sports events.
Like traditional modeling, promo modeling isn’t for everyone. You have to be really outgoing and not afraid to put yourself out there by walking up to random people and get them engaged with the company you’re representing.
Now that you have the gist of what promotional modeling is, I want to point out a few big misconceptions that people have when they think of a promo model.
You have to have modeling experience: Even if you have no modeling experience whatsoever, chances are you have some experience that companies are looking for in their promo model. If you have ever waited tables, done public speaking, customer service, worked retail, or dealt with the public in any other professional manor- you have experience they are interested in!
Promo models aren’t smart: This is one of the biggest misconceptions that really irks me because I feel that promo models aren’t given enough credit. In order to be successful, promo models have to be articulate, professional, have the skillset of a salesperson, and be able to sell a product they just learned about. They often get a lot of information thrown at them very quickly and have to remember it to answer questions from potential customers, all while being outgoing, friendly, and on point for hours at a time. Most of the promo models that I know are working on or already have a college degree, and have professional jobs outside of their promo modeling careers.
Promo models hardly wear any clothes: While there are instances where the client will require their models to wear bikinis or even just body paint, that’s not always the case. As you can see in my photos above & below, both of those events I wasn’t showing more than the average amount of skin. If your agent sends you a request where the client is requesting you to wear something you’re not comfortable in, you have every right to turn that job down. Working with your agent to set those boundaries is just as important as it is with a regular modeling agency to ensure you’re not put in a position where you feel uncomfortable.
You only get hired for "trashy" events: While some events that use promo models may be seen as “trashy” to some people (that’s all a matter of personal opinion), there are many events & trade shows that are corporate level that also hire promo models.
Below, I’ve listed a few pros & cons about being a promo model to help you decide if it may be something you’re interested in!
Pro- Great Pay: There’s no way around it, promo modeling is a great way to make some money. Depending on the event, rates can be $40-$50/hour, or more!
Con- Getting Paid: In the same breath as the above pro, there is a downside to the high pay. Depending on the agency that hired you, it can take 90 days or more for you to get paid for the event you worked. Always make sure to be aware of the agency’s payment policy so you know when to roughly expect your paycheck.
Pro- Choose Your Schedule: As with fashion modeling, you have the flexibility of deciding when and how often you want to work. A lot of events are in the evening/at night, so this is ideal for students or models that also work day-jobs.
Con- Long Hours: Events like trade shows often last all day, and sometimes run into the evening. Be aware that working 10-12 hour days is common, and that you are expected to stay on your feet and on point the entire time. Sometimes you’ll be required to wear heels or stand out in extremely cold or hot weather for the entirety of the event, which can be exhausting.
Pro- Traveling & Access to Events: Sporting events, trade shows, conventions, and conferences occur all year around and all across the US. Sometimes, companies will want to hire promo models to travel to different events with them instead of hiring new models at each location, which gives you the opportunity to travel to place you may have never been to before. You also may have opportunities to attend concerts, festivals, or other events for free!
Con- Stereotypes: As mentioned in the above misconceptions, no matter how intelligent & professional promo models really are, there will always be perceptions about how degrading and less-than promo modeling is for men and women. It’s very unfortunate that there is such a negative undertone associated with this industry, because 90% of the time it isn’t that way at all, but it is something to be aware of if you’re looking into getting into this field.
Pro- Networking: Working as a promo model, you have the opportunity to network with so many people in so many different fields. You never know what other opportunities may arise by connecting with the right person at an event you’re working!
Con- Dealing with rude/drunk people: Sometimes at events (especially ones involving alcohol), you will have to deal with event attendees that are rude or give you unwanted attention. While it is your job to entertain and interact with people at events, you are never expected to tolerate any unwanted advances and should report it to your supervisor immediately, especially if you are put in a situation where you feel unsafe.