An introduction to the hand models in iconic ads.
Credit: Peter Pioppo
You’ve seen their hands a million times in glossy magazine ads, in
television commercials, and blown-up on billboards. Plenty of corporate
ad campaigns use hand models, and the few in the business have been
busier than ever since the
recent boom in popular handheld electronic devices. Who are these
people, and how did they land these gigs? Here’s a quick look at some
of the faces behind the hands you know so well.
The most popular e-reader on the market, the Amazon
(AMZN) Kindle, is held upright in ads by hand model Mia Crowe. Though
she’s posed for Apple
(AAPL) products, too, her client base isn’t confined to tech companies.
Her Web site says, “Turn
on the television right now, and you can see Mia’s talented hands in
commercials doing everything from spreading Philadelphia Cream Cheese on
a bagel and twisting open Oreo cookies to pouring test tubes of blue
dye onto Tampax feminine pads to test for absorbency.”
When part-time model Kimbra Hickey posed for the cover of Twilight
in 2004, she had no idea that the book would be popular. Since then,
the image of her hands, cradling an apple, have graced the covers of the
millions of copies sold around the world. She still attends events
promoting the book and signs autographs.
(SPLS) “Easy Button” ad campaign was so catchy that the office supplies
retailer started selling these buttons in stores. Hand model James
Furino didn’t need to buy one to get his hands on an Easy Button. His
index finger does the pressing in one of the memorable ads. He feels
lucky to have the hands and the “meticulous” personality that hand
modeling requires. Yet he’s quick to dispel a common myth about the
business. “It is lucrative, but you can’t get rich doing it,” he says.
During a photo shoot in 1983, Elizabeth Barbour says she “tilted her
hand in such a way” that the photographers captured the perfect shot
of her hand grazing a glass. The shot was the basis for the redesign of
the Palmolive soap label, which is still around to this day. She was paid
$650 for the shoot and calls the experience “one of the funniest
things I’ve ever done.”
She rips biscuits apart at just the right speed, spreads icing onto
cinnamon buns without making a mess, and folds pie crust like a pro.
Pillsbury is just one of full-time hand model Ashly Covington’s many
clients. She set out to be an actress, not necessarily a hand model.
“After college I was trying to get headshots taken,” she says, “The
agent was far more interested in my hands.”
Actress Megan Fox is well-known for her good looks, but she also
owns a pair of infamously ugly thumbs. When she starred in a Motorola
(MOT) commercial that aired during this year’s Super Bowl, Fox’s hands
looked surprisingly normal. That’s because they weren’t hers. Model
Pamela Moses lent her hands to the commercial. More than a few astute
Fox fans noticed the substitution.
Ellen Sirot has been in the hand-modeling business for 20 years. She
has worked on countless campaigns selling just about everything from
nail polish to pregnancy tests. Recently, she has jumped on new
opportunities in tech advertising, such as this Verizon
(VZ) campaign. While some models don’t bother to baby their hands, Sirot
insists on it. She wears gloves all the time and has even developed
her own line of hand cream to keep them moisturized.
(T) “hands” campaign won
the title of “America’s Favorite Magazine Ad,” a contest sponsored
by Magazine Publishers of America. For the campaign, Italian artist
Guido Daniele painted hands, holding electronic devices, with imagery
from around the world. Ryan Serhant offered up his hands as the canvas.
What’s his secret to keeping his hands in perfect form? He explains,
“Lots and lots of lotion, gloves when it’s cold, gloves when you work
out, and gloves when you sleep.”