Professional Jeweler Archive: Skin-Deep Marketing

August 2001

Image


Skin-Deep Marketing

Some image-makers are redoing their staff to make over their images


With more jewelers embracing the concept of experience retailing – some even adding bench activities to the “show” by making them visible from the sales floor – maybe the time has come to discuss the aesthetic facts of life.

Such as … well, your watchmaker, maybe. Sure, he’s a whiz with a Rolex. But he’s got quite a gut, doesn’t he? Maybe he should spend more time at the gym. And the woman-of-a-certain-age in accessories? She’s not getting any younger, is she?

You laugh? In Los Angeles, where trends start, the cult of youth and beauty is such that one company, Beautiful Bartenders (beautifulbartenders.com), has made a hit by supplying hardbodies – only hardbodies – to the party circuit. No longer is it enough, reports The New York Times, to merely rub elbows with powerbrokers at a dazzling home in the Hollywood Hills.

“They want beauty, they want attractive young people behind the bar, passing the trays, and that’s what I give them,” says President Ana Gallegos. Her company supplies servers and hostesses for parties hosted by the likes of Paramount Studios, Warner Bros. and actress/singer Jennifer Lopez.

At a recent party attended by actress Tori Spelling and some of her former “90210” co-stars, servers from Beautiful Bartenders wearing tight black pants offered cocktails and sushi. Others sauntered around the West Hollywood warehouse where the event was held. “Just be atmosphere,” they were told.

Employees aren’t necessarily required to know bordeaux from Dr Pepper. “The bartending stuff, that can be learned,” says Gallegos.

Rates for bartenders begin at $30 an hour, about $10 more per hour than a typical catering company charges, and climb to $75 if special duties are involved. In October, for example, bartenders poured drinks while dressed in schoolgirl uniforms.

Gallegos was inspired to start the company, she told The Times, during her years as a BMW saleswoman, when she was a frequent guest at Beverly Hills parties. In 1996, she placed newspaper ads seeking “model-type bartenders, waitresses and cocktail servers” and asking applicants to submit head shots.

“If you go into a club or a party and you see attractive people there, you’re going to stay longer,” she says.

Gallegos says it never occurred to her that hiring on looks instead of skills might be construed as discriminatory. Apparently, her instincts are good. According to Noel Ragsdale, a law professor at the University of Southern California, beauty-based discrimination is not illegal. Current laws protect only against discrimination based on age, sex, race, religion, disability and sexual orientation. “The fact is, discrimination based on appearance is common in all areas of employment,” says Ragsdale. “And at the moment, it’s a kind of discrimination we just allow. It’s widespread. This company is just more blatant about it.”

– by Mark E. Dixon

As though you didn’t have enough to think about when hiring, some image- makers are saying hiring the young and beautiful is a prerequisite to a successful image. This model, wearing David Yurman jewelry from a Saks Fifth Avenue catalog, would fit the bill.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications