L-R: Kitty Riddell, Krystian Heath, Rosie Herdman and Alistair Boyd. Images/R&G's Facebook Page.

UPDATE: R&G’s Managing Director responds to this post in a comment below.

If you’re in New Zealand and you’ve got a little bit of an interest in fashion, you have may have heard about Rodd & Gunn‘s latest ‘Face of R&G’ competition. For those who haven’t heard or for those who need a recap, for the last couple of weeks, Australasian retailer Rodd & Gunn has been on the hunt for a girl and a guy to be the new faces of R&G (the younger, ‘cooler’ line under the same brand):

“We are not necessarily after the traditional model look,” says Mike Beagley, Managing Director of R&G. “R&G is for real men and that’s who we want representing our brand; a guy with rugged good looks and of course a gorgeous girl to match him.”  (Isaac Likes)

The winners would receive a trip to Turkey to model in the upcoming campaign (shot by Derek Henderson). To enter, all you needed to do was be 18 years or older, ‘like’ the R&G Facebook page, and upload a photograph of yourself to it. Simple enough, right?

Fast forward to last Thursday. After choosing finalists based on their submitted photographs, one in-person casting was held and the winners of the competition were announced last week at an event in their store. They decided to choose four winners instead of two: Kitty Riddell, Rosie Herdman, Alistair Boyd and Krystian Heath.

This is where I start feeling a bit weird about the whole thing.

All the winners are models. Professional models. Kitty Riddell (Red 11) is the most known of the four – she’s featured in several print and online editorials and she is one of the faces of the current Glassons campaign. The boys aren’t as prominent in the modelling industry, but both are still professional models. (Alistair Boyd is with Kirsty Bunny/The Agencie in Wellington, and Krystian Heath is with 62 Models.) It should be noted that none of the models are new faces – they’re all on the main boards of their respective agencies so it is safe to assume that they all have a reasonable amount of modelling experience. Rosie Herdman (Red 11) walked in last year’s New Zealand Fashion Week and has also been in various online editorials this year.

But get this: Not only is she a professional model – Herdman was in the last R&G campaign:

Herdman in the Winter 2011 R&G Campaign. Image/roddandgunn.co.nz

In fact, as of right now, the profile photo on R&G’s Facebook page is actually one from the R&G shoot Rosie was in:

Herdman highlighted on the left. Image/screenshot.

There were no rules stating you couldn’t be a professional model or have modelled before to enter the competition, but it was implied that R&G were looking for a non-professional model (I don’t think anyone would be wrong for assuming that). Not only have they chosen a professional model as one of the faces of the forthcoming campaign, they have chosen the very same model they used in the current campaign.

So much for a new face. In my opinion it makes the idea of a competition redundant.

Secondly on the ‘why this makes me feel weird’ list: There’s no mention of any monetary payment as the prize for winning the competition. The terms and conditions state:

“The prize is return airfares, food and accommodation to Turkey for the shoot – plus the great experience!”

Interesting. There’s no doubt that an expenses paid trip to Turkey would be a fantastic prize for anyone to win, but what for a professional model? This is not a holiday. It’s a job. A two-day, unpaid job. It’s not like the winners are your average joes – they do this for a living. (For your reference – according to an industry source, a model in a New Zealand wide campaign would be expected to be paid upwards of NZ$4000.00). Any reasonable person being sent overseas to do a job they were qualified for would expect payment. (I’m sure Derek Henderson is getting paid.) Not only do the models do the work for free,

“All entrants agree to allow Rodd & Gunn to use any images taken during the photo shoot for promotional purposes, as they see fit.”

So we can assume that there is will be no payment in the case of rollovers, and that the images can be used overseas.

I can see how this might be worth it for a new model (it’s good for their book and the experience is useful), but how is it beneficial for the modelling agency? If the models aren’t making any money, the agency certainly isn’t.

If a prominent brand (such as Rodd & Gunn) was to go through the traditional route (through the agencies) of finding models to be the faces of what is at least a nationwide campaign, they would be expected to pay them just like they would be expected to pay the photographer. So that brings me to this:

Was this R&G competition really a competition, or was it a clever way of gaining publicity for the brand and getting professional models to work for free?

Your thoughts?


UPDATE: R&G’s Managing Director, Mike Beagley, responded to this post. His comment below:

“Hi everyone, as the owner of Rodd & Gunn (R&G), it was my idea to undertake the model search. Believe it or not there was no hidden agenda or conspiracies. We were looking for a new model to take over from Michael who has served us well for 2 years. The plan was to attract anyone and everyone with the lure of a fantastic prize to the Aegean Sea in Turkey. Our shoots are very relaxed affairs where more fun takes place than work. The winners get a week away overseas, all expenses paid in return for 2 days work. Who wouldn’t want to win this? To be completely frank, no one in my company including myself were aware that the male winners were professional models and I believe this will be there first shoot. We made the decision based on how they looked in our clothing range and their personalities. The girls aren’t a major focus as we don’t sell women’s clothes but they do assist to help create a realistic environment. Rosie was incredibly easy to work with on our last shoot, had she not entered we would have chosen any of our finalists.

We had over 200 entries without any advertising so I think it proves that it was a popular prize. All entrants were aware of the terms and conditions and our winners have formally agreed to the T&C’s in writing. No pressure has been applied and whether they were professionals or amateurs the same rules applied.

We also expanded the competition to 4 winners instead of the 2 we were required to offer. This decision was made around 6pm on the night of the launch based on the group dynamics we observed after our face to face meetings. This clearly demonstrates this is not a penny pinching exercise but rather us taking the opportunity to ensure our shoot works even better and it de risks the reliance on one model. If we were paying talent fees and airfares we would have gone with our main model being based in Europe. It is hugely costly to shoot outside of New Zealand and we spend this money to enable us to get the look and feel of much larger international brands and companies. It was a fun competition in the spirit of our new brand and to launch our new High St store and I am incredibly excited about the prospects for our upcoming shoot. I am happy to answer any questions and I am very comfortable that we have acted in the best interests of all concerned.

Mike Beagley”