Employment Agency vs. Showcase Agency

What is the difference between a showcase agency and an employment agency? Showcase modelling agencies are not the same as modelling employment agencies, in that they are not allowed to find work for their models by law. Only a model employment agency can legally put a model or talent forward for a job.

Many of these showcase modelling agencies and companies make false promises that they can represent you and find you work. They know full well that they cannot legally find you work but their sales staff are very clever - making you believe that featuring on their website means that lots of businesses will see your portfolio and book you for a job as a result.

In reality most companies use model employment agencies when booking talent and avoid these showcase agencies. Businesses do not have the time to call up models and agree availability; they would rather have a professional modelling agency arrange it all for them.

Showcase sites often list jobs they have found where someone is looking to book models and talent. However, there are three important factors to be aware of here:

    • Many of jobs listed are from individual photographers wanting glamour models (topless or nude). Lots of people can get caught in this situation and may end up feeling pressured to pose for these pictures.
    • The ‘businesses’ posting jobs for talent and models are usually not vetted or checked to make sure they are legitimate. It is down to the individual model or talent to determine their trustworthiness.
    • Many of the modelling jobs listed on these showcase sites are not paid and are looking for talent and models for free. Photographers call it ‘time for print’ or TFP. This means that the person gives up their time to model for the pictures in exchange for copies of the photos rather than payment.

    Also, beware of any agency that insists on professional photos as part of their registering process or a company that appears to be enticing you into having pictures taken with them. It may well be a scam.

    What makes Models Direct and Talent Management different from these showcase agencies?

    Models Direct and Talent Management are Government-regulated modelling and talent employment agencies. This means that they are regulated by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), who monitor all modelling and talent agencies to ensure they meet the legal requirements for consumer protection.

    We began working on behalf of thousands of talented people, connecting them to business every day, over 22 years ago. Our full-time team have since helped to find our models and talent paid modelling work in the fashion, advertising, photographic, promotion, film and TV sectors.

    The inside story? Our Disappointment with Watchdog

    For the media savvy consumer it is certainly no secret that shocking stories do well and that the press are often more than happy to bend or embroider the truth in order to draw an audience. You only have to think of recently well-publicised cases to realise how far some journalists are prepared to go to sell a story and make it fit with their agenda.

    Unfortunately Models Direct became a victim of this ten years ago when they were wrongly targeted by Watchdog on a programme investigating just the kind of agency that we warn our readers about. In order that you may see the full story – from both sides and without any journalist spin on it – we have included links below to direct correspondence at the time between ourselves and those who were misrepresenting us in a very unfair and public way.

    We hope that the facts provided will enable you to see through the bias and - in many cases - plain inaccuracy that we found ourselves on the receiving end of at the time.

    It is a well known fact that the modelling and talent industry is very competitive. At the time of the Watchdog programme, three people who were registered with Models Direct decided to talk to the programme about their disappointment over not being selected by clients for paid modelling work. Had they contacted us to talk about their frustrations we could have offered advice on how to improve their presentation and offered a work and agency update, showing recent assignments and feedback associated with our company. Unfortunately this is not the route that they decided to take.

    They also could have met with us face to face to discuss their concerns. We welcome models to come and see us at our head office where we are happy to show them how things work at the agency from the ground up, introducing them to our team of coordinators who are here to discuss any concerns and offer any guidance required five days a week.

    Take a look at our model feedback section yourself as part of your research into our company. Here you can find comments from an abundance of models who have been found paid work and have written about their experiences.

    When we were informed of Watchdog's intention to air a programme featuring the agency we were not in the least concerned or intimidated as we had nothing to hide. We sent them this pre-show statement – having been given only 48 hours notice in which to do so – but the programme chose not to use it, or, in fact, make any effort to represent our side of the story. They also ignored our post-show response.

    Despite our knowledge of the workings of some media organisations and journalists, we were still admittedly quite shocked at the lack of fairness and balance shown by those involved in the making of the programme. The three people previously mentioned were featured complaining about failing to be selected by any of our clients, but not one of the many satisfied models that we have placed on paid assignments were contacted or interviewed.

    Additionally, an undercover Watchdog reporter lied to our agency and registered as a model with us without our knowledge. The programme could not highlight this however - as she was actually found paid work through agency! Please read our communication with Watchdog around this matter.

    Not one of our agency's distinctive and beneficial features were raised on the programme. You can take a look at the benefits when trying to find out more about how we can represent and support you as a model or talent.

    Out of approximately 2000 modelling and promotion agencies in the UK, we represent more people to more clients than any of them and whenever it arises our models are put forward for work nationwide.

    As a business that is regularly inspected by the Department of Employment, Office of Fair Trading and the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), we take our responsibilities very seriously. We were even invited to contribute to the consultative document which resulted in the current legislation governing employment agencies – The Employment Act.

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