When you think or hear of the word “commercial” in regards to the modeling industry, there are a few variations of the meaning, but in the most practical form regarding “print” photography think of the word “promote”. The model’s job is to be photographed “promoting” a product or service in a print ad (for example… in magazines, brochures, newspapers, catalogues, etc.). There are numerous opportunities for COMMERCIAL PRINT MODELS that exist all over the United States and internationally. The ad may range from the smallest business promoting its’ livelihood all the way to large corporations who can afford their own advertising agencies to handle marketing campaigns.
Commercial Print Modeling is very different from Editorial Print Modeling. Remember that an “editorial” is a magazine fashion “story” of the trend that is happening at that particular moment, not a specific advertisement for any one company, even though you will see multiple credits cited in small print of the stores and designers of the featured garments and accessories. Some ads that you may see in magazines may be elaborately spread out and photographed in an “editorial-style”, but it is ultimately a “commercial” ad if it is promoting one company name. It makes a nifty, high fashion looking ad, though, because that is the style ad that they are marketing to their specific consumers.
Usually, though, the editorial model and their style of modeling don’t represent the particular looks that can be marketed to a large group of average, “every-day” consumers (a.k.a. the people who buy). Consumers buy from ads that they can relate to or strive to achieve. This is where a commercial model may have a wonderful chance of success because their image is a part of the marketing process that sells to the consumer. They represent a highly approachable and marketable look. So, for whatever product they are promoting their look can vary dependent upon what product or service is being advertised to the consumer. That means the door is open to many different types and sizes of models. Take note, that there are actually some editorial fashion models that are able to cross over from editorial modeling into the diverse commercial advertising side. That’s so ideal for a career model who wants longevity. The commercial model doesn’t usually have just one look even though there may be one special look that gets them hired over and over.
This is where the terminology variations form and can cause confusion to whether a model is considered an editorial-type or commercial-type of model. Remember the prestige title? It’s placed on editorial models, but there is something wonderful to be said for being a successful working commercial model, too. “Commercial” is a term that the general public thinks of as ads that they see on television or hear on the radio. The terminology used by an advertising agency versus a modeling agency when referring to “commercial” has different degrees of meanings, too, depending on how they interpret the booking.
Being in a television commercial is one type of opportunity that can use commercial models, but it’s “NOT” why they are called commercial models. For the purposes of a commercial type of model, the doors are open for almost anyone who has the skills of being either photogenic for photographs or having the right personality and approachable looks for promoting a product. The range of model can vary from being very outwardly attractive all the way to people who possess a great “character” face and /or personality (a.k.a. character model). Fashion does have its place for commercial models (a.k.a. commercial fashion models) by selling the garments or accessories that are being advertised in catalogues, showrooms, and certain ads in magazines (not the editorial stories).
The context of explaining where the “commercial model” terms are used may vary depending on whom is referring to the booking… an Advertising Agency, a Commercial Modeling Agency, or a “specialized” Editorial Fashion Agency. Advertising Agencies (a.k.a. Ad Agencies) are hired on behalf of a company who wants their product or service promoted. Ad agencies will overall take charge of how the product or service will be promoted and will usually take care of hiring all of the personnel needed to complete the job such as photographers and models, too. If the campaign is something to promote a “fashion” product, then the “ad” agency refers to this as a “fashion” job. This is where the slight confusion of terms is just a technicality. An “Editorial ” modeling agency does not refer to such “fashion” work as “editorial” and will likely view the ad as commercial. So, here you have the advertising agency’s viewpoint booking a “fashion model”, but perhaps the modeling agency refers to what the ad agency is booking in terms of a commercial model. Ultimately, someone is used, so congrats to whatever type of model gets the job. Commercial Fashion Print bookings for models represent a lot of work around the world, too, as well as the high fashion modeling. The demand for catalog models varies from city to city just as the prestige of work does.
Even though “Prestige” is usually a term that is used for the editorial model bookings, there is a rare level of “exception” for the commercial models who are working for the “big” clients in fashion, too. Upscale catalogues, beauty clients, fashion clients, and department stores using the “combination” fashion and commercial models for their print work offer opportunities, too, that is different from the fashion editorial stories. It’s all about high-end advertising! There are some rare, “dual-type” models that can be in possibly the same types of magazines for their “commercial” fashion ad that their “editorial” fashion story would be in. These companies want to showcase their product and company name with a great deal of effective, up-scale representation, so the bottom line is “investing” in their ability to make money. Booking models is an investment of their money that they pay the ad agency (or modeling agency) directly, so the ability to have the right model representing the company’s “look” to their market that they are trying to reach is essential. The “prestige” in a commercial fashion print opportunity is usually associated with either the upscale client, usage of photographs, or the amount of money paid to the commercial model.
Commercial print models appear in magazine ads, newspapers, newspaper fliers/inserts, brochures, school text books, catalogues, billboards, Internet ads, hang tags, food packaging, and numerous other product pictures (too many to list all). We mentioned earlier that there is flexibility in the model’s appearance and even size. The requirements aren’t as strict as the editorial fashion model regarding height, weight, and body measurements, but the model hired for a commercial print job is required to fill the shoes of whatever “character” that they have been hired to portray in front of the camera. The character is usually booked according to the model that suits the role closest such as “young mom”, “middle-aged pilot”, “corporate executive”, “young nurse”, “college student”, etc. The company or advertising agency has its own idea of how they want their product or service represented, so the model must “look” and “project” the part to the client and photographer. This involves acting. The younger model is unlikely an experienced or trained actor, but modeling is a version of role-playing, so acting is a personal trait that can improve the model’s ability to get into character. Actors compete for these jobs, as well, in commercial print, so it’s not just for career models. Everyone wants the work. Commercial print modeling may or may not be a full-time career choice as compared to the editorial fashion model’s often hectic schedule.
Flexibility in a model’s availability is also a key requirement to getting the work when jobs are available, too. Some bookings are literally made at the “last minute” when clients need someone a.s.a.p. for “whatever” reason they may find (a model never showed up, a model needs to be replaced, etc.) There are often a team of people relying on “everyone” to do their job and show up on time. Time is something that is paid for and a model should never assume that being even five to fifteen minutes late is acceptable. This is not a social situation, but rather a professional, paying job. Being a little early is well worth the experience of not frustrating a team of creative individuals and allowing you some breathing time to get into character! Being on time shouldn’t be considered as showing up at the exact moment that the job is officially starting. It is implied that you should know to be a little early to catch yourself up with any required information, extra preparation, or updates to what is going on for that booking. Your mind should be open to whatever character that you will be portraying and how you may best show whatever product or implied service via your poses and any props.