Everything You Want to Know About Being a Promotional Model

That's me, Missy Nolan, working a fun event as a promo girl.
That's me, Missy Nolan, working a fun event as a promo girl.

Do you think you have what it takes to become a promotional model?

Have you been thinking about becoming a promotional model? Does a career as a promotional model sound like something you would enjoy? Promotional models, also known as brand ambassadors, are in demand across the United States, but working promotional events is not for everybody.  If you want to find out more information about how to become a promotional model, continue reading to learn everything you need to know about the industry.

What is a promotional model?

A promotional model is not really a model, although some people still refer to their work as modeling. Promotional Model is the title given to an individual, usually female, who promotes products or services at high-profile events such as concerts, sporting events, and community events. Other names for promotional models include brand ambassador, event staff, trade show model, and event personnel.

What is a typical gig like for a promotional model?

There is no such thing as a typical gig for a promotional model; events vary widely. As an independent contractor, you will usually be able to choose the events you wish to work (unless you have entered into a contract and agreed to work certain events before learning the details). Promotional models pose with, and/or take photos of, individuals attending events. They also distribute samples, host games and contests, and keep event attendees excited and happy. All of this is done with a smile and a friendly attitude; promotional models are expected to do more than just stand around and look pretty.

Clothing is often provided for events, and can range from a t-shirt to a fitted dress and heels. Many companies require you to own a pair of khakis and black slacks, as well as a plain white shirt. If you are wearing your own clothing and shoes, they are expected to be wrinkle-free and clean. I have seen many promotional models get sent home for not wearing the appropriate attire.

What will I be promoting?

As stated in the previous paragraph, promotional models have some control over the work that they accept.  You will promote everything from cat food to prescription drugs.  Alcohol promotions are always popular, as are cigarettes.  Some of these events take place in bars and clubs; if that isn't your cup of tea, stick to event gigs and in-store demos.

How do I become a promotional model?

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the easiest way to become a promotional model is to know somebody who already works as one.  Companies are always looking for new faces, and they often ask current promotional staff to refer friends and family members.

No friends in the industry yet?  I will provide a few company names towards the end of this article to help you get started.

How old are most promotional models?

Most promotional models are 18-28 years old, but some are older. 

Do I need to be a certain height or weight to become a promotional model?

Yes and no.  I am often asked this question, and I hate answering it.  No, you don't always have to be 5'11'' and super hot, but you do have to be somewhat attractive.  You also have to be in good physical shape; many companies will not hire promotional models who wear anything bigger than a Large in shirts and blouses (this includes men).

Can guys be promotional models too?

Absolutely, although some events (liquor and cigarettes) primarily hire women for their promotional staff.

Do I need a college education to become a promotional model?

You can be a promotional model without a college education, but a degree doesn't hurt. Companies want to know that you are intelligent enough to talk to potential customers while promoting their products. Promotional modeling is a form of marketing, so consider majoring in Business or Marketing.

Pay attention during your college classes, because excellent verbal and written communication skills will help you land more promotional jobs.

How much money will I make as a promotional model?

Promotional models make as much as they want to make. As an independent contractor, you determine which gigs you accept. I have seen events that range in pay from $12 an hour to $60 an hour, with the average rate of pay ranging from $20 to $25 per hour. Many promotional models refuse to accept gigs that pay less than $20 per hour, which leaves those gigs open for newbies to the promotional scene.

One very important thing that you need to know about promotional income: while you'll find companies that pay biweekly and even weekly, many companies take up to 8 weeks to issue payment for an event. 

Do I have to claim my earnings as a promotional model at tax time?

Yes, although I believe that earnings under $600 don't have to be reported.  Don't quote me on that though; I don't have your back if you get audited by the IRS.  Sorry.

Do I need an agent?

No, although some promotional models choose to get one.  Because promotional modeling is not really the same as traditional modeling, an agent is not necessary to help you secure work.

How do I find work as a promotional model?

The best way to find work as a promotional model is by networking; however, that may not be an option for you. Search Craigslist (look under "Gigs", not "Jobs"), or try signing up with Encore and Fusion. They are both good starter companies for new models and brand ambassadors.

Be prepared to get rejected for numerous gigs when you first start working as a promotional model; it's normal.

What kind of people make great promotional models?

Can you smile, memorize scripts (some promotions require you to memorize pages of information about the product you're promoting; I had one company that sent me a 102 page training manual), stay in decent physical shape, and wait as long as 8 weeks (sometimes longer if you accidentally book a gig with a shady company) for your paycheck? If the answer is yes, a career as a promotional model might be right for you.

Also worth noting: if you love working a traditional 9-5 gig and seeing the same people doing the same thing every day, this is not the job for you. Your hours will vary widely, as will the type of work that you do. You will work with people that you might never see again. This might sound fun at first, but some people are unable to handle it.  If you value consistency, you will hate being a promotional model.

Final Thoughts

Working as a promotional model is fun, but it's not always easy. Great promotional models are friendly, outgoing, confident, fit, and fun. They also know how to market themselves, and realize that if they don't, somebody else might land the gig they're after.

If you want to become a full-time promotional model, it's important to remember that many companies take up to 8 weeks to issue payment.  If you have bills to pay, you might have to keep your regular job for awhile and build up some savings.

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Comments 4 comments

Marnie 4 years ago

what should i wear if i have an interview for promotional modelling?


Sunnyglitter profile image

Sunnyglitter 4 years ago from Cyberspace Author

I would wear a tailored black suit with a colorful top underneath to show that you are professional, yet have personality.


Lee Tea profile image

Lee Tea 4 years ago from Erie, PA

Hi Sunnyglitter! Looks like we've walked a similar path, I discovered your article here while reviewing my own on the same topic. Your pics remind me of how much fun I used to have :) Voted up, interesting and useful.


promoguru 3 years ago

Loved the Article. Ive been in the industry for along time and finding not only agencies but good jobs is a long hard task. I have been using a site that is not an agency but a site that post agency jobs. http://www.mypromojobs.com is a cool and reliable site to find promotional jobs.

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