In the past, beautiful female celebrities advertised cosmetics and naturally, sales were boosted. However, over the past few years, male stars have began flaunting their flawless complexions in cosmetic advertisements.
The streets of Myeongdong in Seoul are lined with numerous cosmetics stores. In front of each of these stores are life-size cardboard cutouts of the stars and if you look carefully, you’ll notice that most of them are male. It appears they chose the models appropriately as female fans wander from store to store in order to purchase face masks which feature the face of their favorite stars.
When former soccer star Ahn Jung Hwan, actors Ahn Jae Won and Hyun Bin began modeling for cosmetic brands it came as a big shock in the cosmetic industry because makeup models were exclusively female. Being a model for cosmetics used to be a good gauge in determining the popularity of a female star. But times have changed and the door has opened wide for male stars to enter into the cosmetics advertising industry.
Today, the majority of the male cosmetic models are singers, more specifically, idol stars. The more female fans you have as a male idol, the higher chance you have in being an advertisement model. Also, the brands that they represent are not high-end brands but rather “pharmacy”-like brands.
These male idol models include Kim Hyun Joong (The Face Shop), 2PM‘s Nichkhun (It’s Skin), TVXQ (Missha), Rain (Nature Republic), CNBLUE (Holika Holika/Olive Young), Lee Seung Gi (The Saem), JYJ (Tony Moly/Nature Republic) and F.T. Island (Baviphat). These are but a few of the male singers who are modeling or have modeled for cosmetics in the past. As for actors, Kim Soo Hyun (Beyond), Song Joong Ki (Tony Moly), Won Bin (The Shop), Jang Geun Suk (Nature Republic), and Jung Il Woo (Holika Holika) are some of the names who have participated as cosmetic models.
The strategy for using male stars as marketing for women’s products has been highly successful. For instance, when actor So Ji Sub began modeling for the undergarment brand Vivien, requests for posters and calendars came flooding which in turn led to an increase in sales. Eventually, So Ji Sub’s contract was extended for one more year.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, female stars have been modeling for primarily male market products as well. Before, it was only male stars advertising alcoholic beverages, but today, it’s hard to see a male star advertising soju. Pushing the idea of “women you would like to have a drink with“, female stars including Moon Chae Won, SECRET, Shin Se Kyung, Lee Hyori, and Han Ga In are seen on various soju posters and print advertisement in every Korean eatery.