Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
And when the beholder is the American consumer, beauty standards seem to be strikingly restricted. However, allure is not the only component of successful aesthetic advertising. Relatability is also key.
We took the most frequently featured faces for numerous widely marketed brands and averaged them together. For some brands, it was impossible to get pictures for every single spokesperson, but we did our best to get as many as possible for the averages. Each average consisted of at least 10 photos (when the average includes both men and women).
The result of the project showed some noteworthy disparities between categories, but we found somewhat of an interesting general consensus among marketing directors as well. Take a look at our fascinating facial findings, and decide for yourself which brand model has the most aesthetic appeal.
01. The Beauty Industry
As far as makeup goes, we honed in on five of the most prevalent beauty brands: CoverGirl, Dior, L’Oréal, Maybelline, and Rimmel London. Many facial features remained somewhat consistent across the board – facial structure, lip and eye shape, eyebrow curvature, and nose width were all stunningly similar. High cheekbones and pronounced jawlines were an exceptionally popular choice throughout this specific category, and full, pink lips unfailingly made the beauty brand cut.
Beauty brand models tend to be highly youthful, unblemished, and appealing – and while attractiveness is ultimately a matter of subjectivity, societal beauty standards lend themselves to similarly featured beauty models regardless of brand name.
We also took a look at both male and female Proactiv models. Fresh-faced, young, and attractive by most nationally collective standards, these models also appeal to those looking for an improvement in personal appearance.
02. The Car Insurance Industry
Car insurance was an interesting classification to study; the most popularized and beloved brand model within this specific category is a digitally mastered gecko. The Geico gecko and Flo from Progressive are two of the most well-known insurance brand ambassadors, but we excluded them from our study and found that there were some definite similarities among brands.
We looked at Allstate, Farmers Insurance, Geico, and State Farm. Most of the brand models we studied are more on the “average joe” side – middle-aged men and women with more “I’m just like you” appeal than almost any other category studied. Interestingly, the average of every brand within this category resulted in a predominantly male-featured visage.
03. The Clothing Industry
What do Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret models have in common? They have more stereotypically consummate facial features than, say, Skechers models. Clothing models, in general, look more like models and less like the common man, while shoe models and sports brand models seem to appeal more to what marketers may deem the “average American.”
We examined Calvin Klein, Hanes, Victoria’s Secret, Candie’s, Nike, and Skechers. Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret models appear relatively young. Hanes, a brand that is typically associated with men, is represented primarily by classically handsome members of the male population.
Candie’s, a shoe brand targeted at young women, is naturally represented by youthful, aesthetically appealing female models. Faces that represent shoe brands like Nike and Skechers are geared toward a slightly older audience – still conventionally attractive but not quite as modelesque as the underwear folk.
04. The Electronics Industry
The faces within the electronics category varied the most, ranging from scruffy men in their 40s to young, fresh-faced blondes. As far as cell phone services go, we looked at the most frequently featured faces of both AT&T and T-Mobile; both cell phone service providers employed good-looking and relatively relatable models.
When looking at cable services, we averaged the most showcased mugs of both DirecTV and Dish. Male visages reign supreme once again, though the models for Dish (both male and female) appear slightly younger than the models for DirecTV. However, all models were definitely in the potential-homeowner age range.
Best Buy utilized models with the same approachable appeal as the cell phone and cable services we studied. While the range of actual facial features varies significantly throughout the electronics category, the general look remains somewhat consistent: attractive by all generalized standards, relatable, and responsible adult–aged.
05. The Food & Beverage Industry
When it comes to fast food promotion, Carl’s Jr.’s average model is an attractive young female, sporting conventionally alluring features such as plump lips, arched brows, and high cheekbones.
The other fast food brand we studied, McDonald’s, tends to lean more toward models with common appeal. McDonald’s brand ambassadors include both male and female models, predominantly in what looks like the early-30s age range. Male McDonald’s models were more ordinary looking, with facial hair, average features, and a far reach from the men of Calvin Klein. The female brand models were around the same age range but slightly more standardly attractive than the male models.
Female Coca-Cola models range widely, but the average shows young and objectively attractive women with standardized eye-catching features, such as big, bright eyes, plump lips, and high cheekbones.
06. The Retail Industry
The faces of retail vary significantly, and this was the only category in which we found distinctly youthful brand models (adolescent to young adult). We looked at the representatives for JCPenney, Petco, Walmart, Kmart, and Target, and found that both Petco and Target utilized youthful brand models far more than any other brand in any other category.
While one might think that Target, Walmart, and Kmart were attempting to appeal to somewhat similar crowds, Target brand models consist mainly of cute kids, while Kmart and Walmart used middle-aged and average-looking representatives.
Aesthetics is a major component of advertising (probably the most crucial element of all ads across all forms of media, aside from those obnoxious jingles you hear on the radio), and brand models comprehensively represent the companies in a very important way. When you look at the face of a specific brand, you want to think to yourself, “I trust that person. I like that person. That person is like me, and I want to buy whatever it is that they are so gosh darn enthusiastic about.”
While American standards of beauty are constantly changing as society shifts and evolves, the aesthetic draw of brand models remains a constant facet of effective advertisement and provides an interesting look at the perspectives of marketers and their take on their American consumers.
We chose brands based on the number of available models across various markets for comparison. Then we collected some of the most notable and recognizable faces based on brands research. When possible, we used images from the time the person was involved with the brand. Finally, using Psychomorph, we averaged each brand’s group of images to create what appears on this page.
Feel free to share the images found on this page freely. When doing so, please attribute the authors by providing a link back to this page and Canva, so your readers can see everything that went in to the creation of this project.