When Models and Marketing Collide

Believe it or not, the history of pin-up models dates back to the late 1800s. It wasn’t Playboy, or Sports Illustrated that created the pin-up, these cultural layouts actually were more apart of the theater business than magazines.

Burlesque performers and actresses were known to handout photographic advertisements as business cards to promote their shows.

Besides Sports Illustrated annual “Swimsuit” issue, pin-up models saw lots of print in the ‘80s and ‘90s, mostly in glossy car buff magazines.

This use of scantly glad women could be labeled as a shameless way of promoting goods and services. Still, it could be argued that the idea behind the pin-up model is actually very clever.

The model is the hook that catches attention, or so they say.

It’s click bait. If an advertiser, manufacturer, or publisher can get you to look at their pin-up model then the concept achieved some success. That's the purpose behind some campaigns using models, both male and female, the more eye-balls on the product(s), the better.

Is it old school? Out of date? I don’t know if it’s that simple. Marketers continue to use models and there is just no getting away from the fact that sexy images sell.

Early in my career, I photographed models (men and women) posing with cars and with car products for countless national newsstand magazines. It was always considered an essential part of the niche magazine automotive publishing business. I stopped the practice though. I loved working with the talent, but something about it always seemed a bit fake. It was a narrative that I did not enjoy.

When I rose to editor-in-chief and editorial director, I had strong opinions as to what readers should see, and what I wanted readers to take away from the subjects that I was covering. I nixed all use of models, and have never used one since to frame a story or concept. I can tell you truthfully, it never hurt the bottom line!

Models might be an attractive lure and in some rare cases they could be justified. But to me it is also a distraction that lowers the credibility of the content. Pin-ups were from a time long passed, and I think it needs to stay that way for all us to be on a level playing field.