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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Getting the guys to woo the gals

Beauty brands are starting to hire male models as eye candy to draw customers
The Straits Times - March 16, 2012
By: Karen Tee
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Getting the guys to woo the gals -- PHOTO: KIEHLS

Fancy buying a tube of lipstick or a tub of anti-ageing cream from a good-looking male model? Now you can.

Although cosmetics are traditionally sold by immaculately groomed female beauty advisers, brands with trendier images have begun to hire handsome men instead to generate buzz for their products.

Make-up brand M.A.C and skincare brand Kiehl's have been using male models since 2007. They appear at store launches and roadshows to mingle with guests, cajole them into trying new potions and hand out free samples.

At the launch of M.A.C's Hello Kitty make-up collection in 2009, male models wearing Dear Daniel heads mingled with guests and took photographs with them.

These guys are usually part-timers who are either still in school or have other jobs.

The latest beauty brand to jump on the dude bandwagon is Maybelline.

On Feb 11, three days before Valentine's Day, it sent 20 models down Orchard Road in a publicity blitz for its Color Sensational lipstick range, which boasts the tagline, 'Fall in love with colour'.

'We decided to be cheeky by hiring male talent to approach girls to fall in love with our product,' says Ms Jerraine Lim, product manager of Maybelline.

'We thought it would be fun to deviate from the norm and push the boundaries by getting boys to promote our products.'

The men - each dressed in a singlet bearing a caption that plays on the name of a different lipstick shade, such as 'Will you be my Pink Wink?' - would apply lipstick onto the hands of passers-by so they can sample the shades.

In an hour, they had swiped lipstick onto the hands of more than 500 women.

This ploy has translated to sales. At a similar Maybelline roadshow at Watsons Parkway Parade, sales of the lipstick rose to 350 units from Feb9to15, seven times more than the store average of about 50 a week.


Associate Professor Prem Shamdasani, from the National University of Singapore Business School's department of marketing, says this new approach could make the brands more appealing to both genders.

'As many skincare and make-up brands now target both men and women, it makes sense to hire both sexes as promoters. Certain young and trendy brands with unisex appeal may also benefit more by employing male promoters,' he says.

However, he adds: 'Novelty aside, beauty brands should be sensitive to the female customer's comfort level in seeking beauty advice from male promoters.'

This is why male promoters, despite being part-timers, are briefed thoroughly on the products they are promoting. They are also trained to direct customers with more technical questions to customer representatives for further advice, says Ms Evelyn Ly, brand manager of Kiehl's Asean.

After Kiehl's Singapore first hired male promoters in 2007, the initiative soon spread to Kiehl's stores in China, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand, all of which now employ hunks to make appearances at their events.

There is even an informal group of Kiehl's Boys in Singapore which posts event photographs on its own website,

The guys enjoy the attention.

Mr William Tan, 29, who is the de facto leader of the Kiehl's Boys, says: 'I enjoy talking to people and giving them samples.'

The former social worker, who is currently in between jobs, confesses he finds the female attention 'a bit flattering'.

In fact, he once dated a girl he met at a Kiehl's event. They started going out after becoming friends on Facebook.

Still, that did not stop her from being jealous of the attention he receives on the job, although that was not the reason for their eventual split.

He says: 'I had to explain to her it is the nature of the job to take photographs with customers and, sometimes, I have to put my arm around the customers' shoulders.'




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