Yes, you, with your belly, your chin(s), your hair -- or lack thereof. You are on advertising's radar screen now too, as a potential star. Our culture is in an odd moment, fixated on the most beautiful of the beautiful but drawn at the same time to the realest of the real, perhaps as a result of SSPWHNP (Skinny-Sexy-People-Who-Have-No-Problems) Overload.
It's not just 50-year-old CoverGirl model Ellen DeGeneres who's suddenly got the non-look look everyone wants.
"Nerdy guys are huge right now," said Charlie Winfield, head booker at Funny Face Today, a modeling and talent agency that's been around since the '70s. "That's probably the biggest thing we get calls for -- guys who are not ready to jump off the pages of GQ," he said. "Like, we're working on a project for XBox. They usually use young, jock guys. Now they're using the nerd/geek combination."
At the same time, big pharma is bringing more 40ish women to the screen than two generations of feminist seething ever did. Of course, all these women suffer from some insidious ailment they are urged to ask their doctors about. ("From your gray hair, tasteful pantsuit and dog for a friend, I'd have to say it's ... middle age.") Still, it's nice to finally see these ladies. Ditto their slightly paunchy, Cialis-popping partners.
It's also good to see some bigger women who aren't Dove users. They're on air or in print for other products now for one simple reason. "I went traveling through the rest of the country this summer, and there are people just as fat as I am," said Janie Martinez, a plus-size New York dancer and model. When she's not dancing with her troupe, Big Moves, she's auditioning for advertisers that really want women her size. Last week, it was Diesel. Martinez thinks she knows why: "It's like a real person saying, 'This pair of jeans didn't work for me, but this one fits my fat ass, so maybe it'll fit your ass, too.'"
Martinez is with Ugly NY, an agency that started 22 years ago in London and opened in New York only last year. While Europe has always been open to imperfect looks -- insert English-teeth joke here -- CEO Simon Rogers, a model himself, saw America finally coming around. "It was just more recently that ad people started to realize, 'We can advertise directly to the people who are going to buy this product,'" he said. Thus, the lady eating yogurt does not have to be Gisele Bündchen.
As if Gisele eats.
Model fatigue is the reason marketing specialist Kara Kenney advised her client Nat Nast Men's Clothing not to cast "the pretty, blue-eyed, skinny guy" in its ads. Nat Nast shirts are direct descendents of the bowling shirt -- invented by the CEO's dad -- and the customer "is not the Euro-trash, Gucci-buying guy," Kenney said. "Not that there's anything wrong with the Euro-trash, Gucci-buying guy."
Except, of course, that there really aren't that many of him around. And since we have come to want models who look like us, goodbye, Euro Stud; hello, Hammock Guy. And Ellen.
The question is: What's next? If we're awash in beauty and now its counterpoint, banality, what's left to cut through the clutter? My guess is more reality in terms of mood -- frustration, desperation, boredom -- and setting. Instead of pristine cars, cars with cups in the back. Instead of perfect homes, messy homes, like the one Tina Fey is hiding from in her AmEx ad. In other words, up next are dumpy, grumpy and frumpy.