Models gear up car sales

Updated: 2011-04-25 12:30

By Gao Changxin (China Daily)

Twitter Facebook Myspace Yahoo! Linkedin Mixx

Models gear up car sales

A Chinese model poses next to a Porsche at the Shanghai International Automotive Industry Exhibition on Wednesday in Shanghai. Car models play an important role in promoting cars. [Photo / Agencies]

A college program

Fang Hua, general manager of Paras Talent Management, a nationwide model agency founded in 2002, said her car model business has grown more than 30 percent annually over the past few years. "Every year, more and more carmakers and public relations companies come to us for models."

Fang's company has contracts with about 60 models. In response to the growing demand, it sponsored car model competitions in 2003 and 2005 to select young models and train them for the car model specialty.


Models gear up car sales

She said she didn't know how many car models there are in China, "but my experience tells me the carmakers' demand has been surging. If a qualified car model wants, she can have work to do almost every day."

In 2005, Beijing Geely University set up a car model department paid for by the carmaker Geely Holding Group. Many students have applied, said one of the teachers, Jiang Linghan.

More than 500 students pay 12,000 yuan a year for the four-year program. Classes are on subjects such as basic auto knowledge, marketing, branding, bodybuilding and how to make poses around cars, Jiang said.

Some carmakers started the model selection process for the Shanghai auto show last year, because they wanted to make sure they got better models than their competitors, Fang said.

"The models really play an important role in promoting cars," she said. "The cars are dead but models alive. Their beauty and performance breathe life and color into a static car.

"Hot girls and luxury cars are linked together in China."

Jean-Marie Riviere, marketing and communication director at Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen Automobile Co, told local media at the auto show that car models are an important medium for a car company to communicate its brand value, which is important for a brand's long-term development.

He said he selects car models himself to make sure they are qualified and fit into his company's brand concept.

Riviere was not specific but other sources mentioned the model's height, the lines of her face and body, her overall aura. A cold-looking model might fit a Land Rover, for example, or a cute model might be right for a Mini.

'A lot of pressure'

Car modeling on average pays more than other types of modeling - 3,000 to 50,000 yuan a day - because it's more demanding physically and mentally, Fang said.

Miao Doudou, a 20-year-old rookie car model, said she cried after her feet swelled by two sizes at the end of the first day working for Geely Holding Group at the Shanghai show.

"Being a car model is no piece of cake," she said. "The high-heeled shoes eat your feet. The loud music, the chaotic scene and the flashing lights make you feel dizzy. At the end of the day, my face is so numb that it's hard to squeeze out a smile.

"And you really work long hours. Though each presentation is short, you have to stay at the show all day long." Miao arrives at 7 am, two hours before the show opens, to get her dresses and makeup done and leaves after the show closes at 6 pm.

But the biggest headache, Miao said, is coping with the many "over-passionate" photographers and spectators. "Sometimes they would suddenly rush up and take photos with you. But you have to put up with it and be polite because it's about the carmakers' brand image.

"Some photographers are evil. They won't take your picture when you look perfect. They wait for slip-ups, such as when you unwittingly frown a little bit out of exhaustion. So it's a lot of pressure."

"Over-passionate" fans are not such a problem for Wei Guoqiang, a rare male car model, but he does find that his pants do not fit well after he stands for hours and his legs swell. "It's tiring, but I prefer doing it, because car modeling pays more than other jobs and working opportunities are abundant."

Ma Jian, a program manager and model with New Silk Road Model Management, one of China's biggest model agencies, thinks that modeling in the auto sector has the potential to go beyond striking poses.

"This type of standing-beside-the-car modeling is just the preliminary stage. Car models can blend in more by appearing in test-drive events and auto-club meetings," Ma said.

"I believe there are many new ways of involvement that we can develop. Car modeling as a profession has big potential in China."

Li Fangfang contributed to this report.



British Royal Wedding

Full coverage of the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in London. Best wishes

The final frontier

Xinjiang is a mysterious land of extremes that never falls to fascinate.

Bridging the gap

Tsinghua University attracts a cohort of foreign students wanting to come to China.

Costly dream
Models gear up car sales
Urban breathing space