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Description: There was a time, not long ago, when the surest path to modeling stardom was down the runway of a top designer’s show, when it would have been unthinkable to find among the industry’s top ranks a swimsuit girl whose main claims to fame were ad campaigns for Guess jeans and Beach Bunny Swimwear.

But that was before social media altered the paths to fame.


Date: Feb 13, 2012

Less than a year after Ms. Upton, curvaceous and rambunctious, posted a video of herself at a Los Angeles Clippers game doing the Dougie, a dance popularized in a hip-hop tune by Cali Swag District, she finds herself in one of the most coveted positions in the modeling business.

Joining an elite club of modeling powerhouses — brand names like Cheryl Tiegs, Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum — Ms. Upton was announced Monday night on David Letterman’s show as the latest cover girl for Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue, the circulation and advertising behemoth that has long been equally the dream book of adolescent males and the bane of feminists.  Read Rest of Story

Questions for discussion:

  1. Is this discussion of Ms. Upton’s path to stardom, just a case of the same disintermediation that we are seeing in many industries as a result of Internet technologies?

2.  What other industries can you identify that have succumbed to disintermediation as a result of the Internet?

13 Responses to “Model Struts Path to Stardom Not on Runway, but on YouTube”

  1. CAP

    I think people who use the internet to expose themselves are very smart. The majority of people in the world are constantly on the internet. I am sure that many companies who are trying to hire people they need would be looking the old fashioned way as well as on the internet. So why wouldn’t anyone who wants to be heard use the internet as a tool to advertise? Just like Ms. Upton, people can expose themselves and become superstars. This is a great way for companies to be able to search through different types of people that they would actually want to hire. Why waste their time on a bunch of interviews or even having the actual person come in when they can just see how they are on the internet. If a person is already a “celebrity” online, a company will gain a bigger audience if they hire that person because they are already famous. That “celebrity” already has fans following them and if a company hires that “celebrity” then that company will most likely become bigger just because of that one person. I think people should do as much as they can and use every tool possible to be able to be heard. If the exposure on the internet has worked for Ms. Upton then why not everyone else?

  2. Sarah Lawson

    These days, it’s no longer about what actual talent you have or how pretty you are. Instead, it’s all about how you market yourself. The internet has made it increasingly easy to market yourself. Ms. Upton has been successful at marketing herself on the internet with youTube videos and voicing her opinion in interviews like this article describes. I am always fascinated with how people are able to gain popularity through social networking and other uses of the internet. It’s the newest way of getting your name out there and becoming the next “who’s who” in this world, and I don’t believe it’s a bad thing at all.
    The music industry is another example of this use of the internet. Even back in the 1970’s it was all about how you or your agent could market you. Now, it’s even easier to do that with the internet. Music artists and bands can easily become globally popular. Whether you like a certain artist or not, their success usually comes more from their marketing techniques and less on their musical style and talent.

  3. MJJ

    I believe that Ms. Upton’s use of the internet to promote herself and her modelling career, while obviously successful, is not original. Many musical groups use the internet to promote themselves. By establishing a wide spread group of followers and fans, it is much easier to ‘sell yourself’. While the need for a middle man, as an agent or promoter, is initially eliminated the need for the agents and managers will still exist. The ‘star’ will still need someone to help them make decisions and continue to succeed while they are off doing whatever it is they are famous for.

    The music industry is the first that comes mind when thinking of using the internet to eliminate the middle man. The internet is a great tool for promoting virtually any type of entertainment-type industry – bands, singers, actors, comedians, or models to name a few. Smaller businesses are also using the internet to promote and sell their products, possibly eliminating the need for traditional advertising and bricks and mortar selling spaces. Again, once the products, in whatever form they take, have been proven and have an established following, the transition into being mainstream and having further success would seemingly be much easier.

  4. Rose

    Talent is good, but it can be developed, channeled, and modeled into celebrity. Most companies want to invest into the right corner, they also not want to loose money or fail. With the help of social media, people want to sell what they have, and companies too, are selective. Gone are the days, that the companies would traditionally search and do thorough interview with the applicants that would grace the company’s image. Company want too see the prove, practice, and praise. Internet exposure boosts this idea and enhance not only the applicant homework, and also narrowed down the company search and saves time.
    The way to stardom is not stagnant. The celebrity starts from somewhere around their dream from room to classroom, classroom to runway, runway to media (Youtube). Following the good voice that applaud helps to bring quick recognition that companies want. Every avenue, tools, people, and places and even with the help of technology should be used to glorify the image the anybody want to project. It helps Ms. Upton along her career, and it will also help as many aspiring to go modelling to celebrity.

  5. neltum

    The role of social media in our society drastically changed everything. In this article, Kate Upton, an internet video of her doing the Dougie at a Los Angeles game Clipper game went viral and has served to increase her popularity. She is not the only person who has reach success due to the influence of social media. In addition to that, the role of social media also plays a significant part of every company. Social media is becoming an indispensible part of the marketing mix for many businesses and one of the best ways to reach customers and clients. Social media platforms, such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have a number of benefits for companies and are fast overtaking traditional media formats such as print and TV ads, brochures, flyers and email campaigns. Most of the company used this format in advertising because more and more people use internet. In fact in the latest survey according to Internet World statistic, seventy eight percent of the whole population in North America used internet. This means that by using social media as form of advertisement companies can penetrate more in the market and they become more accessible to the public.

  6. Awesomeness

    I agree with pretty much everything CAP said. I mean, the internet is an endless pool of opportunities – so why not use it. People are definitely smart to use the internet in such a way. And even if they weren’t purposely seeking to get noticed, it can still happen! I definitely don’t think that Kate realized she would become this big due to that “Dougie” video, which I think is the beauty of it. Talent seekers are definitely smart to use the internet in order to find the next big thing. Justin Bieber (come one – you can’t deny his fame) was a prime example of this. He was just a young Canadian boy who posted videos of himself singing on the internet. And guess what? He was signed by a huge record company and now he’s one of the most well-known (and criticized) names around the WORLD. This example just proves the power of the internet.
    Also, reiterating what the article said, there is no longer only one single path to becoming a model, or becoming a singer. The internet has created a whole new platform from which people can be discovered and is the way of the future.

  7. Scotty

    Social Media has taken the connections out for those people who have large amount of talent, but no connections, in previous generations it was all about the people that you associated yourself or the people that your parents knew in order to get to stardom, hence why there are generations of celebrities who’s children all remain famous just through growing up in the fame. I think socially media has opened the door for so many people that are not only talented but also those that have the tools and don’t necessarily know that they do. This is a prime example, as she is not your typical model who hasn’t eaten in 3 days, its nice to see that these large companies are actually considering people who represent in body style 90 percent of the population. As much as i don’t like beiber, he is also a prime example of how someone who is extremely talented got the opportunity to live out their dreams, and make millions of people happy by vein discovered through youtube. He was the start of the social media celebrities and i believe many more will be found this way. I do however think that it is going to become increasingly difficult for people to get noticed due to the overpowering amount of people who think that they are they next best thing. But like the article states there is more than a single path to becoming successful in a celeberty type of way and more than one way to get discovered. I believe that this is going to be the way that people scout in the future leading to stiffer competition due to large amounts of true talent.

  8. knwe

    I think there is some disintermediation involved in Ms. Upton’s path to stardom because her presence on YouTube is how she was discovered. This eliminated the need for her to visit countless agencies trying to get discovered. Her fans helped her become popular through viral marketing.
    People can now be discovered through a variety of media channels, YouTube and Facebook being two of the most common because of their ease of public access. There are many sites that conglomerate trends on the web, only increasing the ease of the pathway to celebrity stardom. The internet has become a pathway to discovering trending internet phenomenon such as Rebecca Black’s “Friday video”, Antoine Dodson’s television interview remix, and more artists that are a household name (whether positive or negative) like Justin Bieber.
    More recently, Kony 2012 campaigns have surfaced across YouTube and Facebook touting the title “Make Kony Famous.” This raises ethical concerns of spreading misleading information because this video only presents one side of the story, is not current, and many users do not take the time to research beyond what is presented to them in the video.
    Additionally, the music industry, shopping, and advertising have all allowed removal of intermediaries within their supply chains. The Internet has also allowed consumers a vast amount of resources to do their own research, diminishing the need for salespeople. Customers can rely on a combination of professional and consumer reviews, all from the comfort of their homes.

  9. dns

    Ms. Upton was using the internet and social media to her advantage. She might have thought of her dancing as a fun, harmless video but many talents are discovered accidentally. For our generation there are tons of people who post video blogs on YouTube in hopes of getting popular and being discovered by someone in the industry. Especially having their videos available online and open to the world to view, it makes it so much easier and cheaper for someone to notice their talent. It eliminates the trouble of going to auditions, and campaigning yourself. So many people want to be known and famous so the odds of becoming successful are difficult. But marketing yourself has allowed a wide range of people to notice you just by a click. For example on the Ellen Degeneres, she surfs the YouTube channel and finds undiscovered talents and promotes them on her television show. There are a number of YouTube stars that are making it big not just talents such as modeling, singing or dancing, people such as Timothy Delaghetto, or as known on youtube Traphik is popular because of his hilarious video blogs. He makes fun of different topics and trends to entertain youtube viewers. It is possible to be successful by using social media, and is becoming a booming trend.

  10. Rasika

    Ms. Upton is not the first and the only person to try her luck on the internet. This method has become more popular amongst people who have many talents specially in show business, and talents that has artistic values, choose the internet to build up their career. I see no reason why the people would not choose this option. If you think about it, internet is widespread to every corner of the world. All the job seekers and job providers use the internet and internet is a convenient and low cost option for both parties. Like Ms. Upton most musicians, people who are talented in singing, playing a musical instrument or even have talents that cannot be easily copied or repeated by someone else, choose the internet to publish their talents to receive a feedback. That way the publisher knows how the audience accepts their talents before they explore a career opportunity for the talent they have. That in a way can be treated as a market research for the talents. For example if you check Youtube, there are millions of uploads of all kinds of talents. And there are more than one occasions that youtube has invented stars and celebrities all around the world.

  11. John McAllister

    I believe that the new age of social networking has revolutionised the world in many ways, none more obvious than as outlet to become famous. For me there has always been regular girls walking down the street or at ball games or even in class that I consider to be beautiful enough to rock the runway or become famous for other attributes. While there are many stories about youtube sensations becoming famous, this story reminds me a little bit more of the Pamela Anderson story. Pam Anderson was discovered at a B.C. Lions football game of all places and went on to have a very successful yet taboo career. While a story like that was very unique and some what surreal 20 years ago, that is not the case today. Anyone can try to make it big by putting themselves on the web. The results are not always pretty, but sometimes they lead to eliminating the need for a middle man. Fortunately for Kate Upton she was able to do this.
    The largest industry that has been effected by the development of the internet is the music industry. There are many celebrities and large corporations complain about the rising concern of piracy. While this may shed a dark light on the web in their opinion, there are positive sides to it as well. Many bands and singers are able to audition and release albums via the web in hopes to reduce the need for a middle man, or purely for the love of music. The most famous situation involving this would have to be the discovery of the insanely popular Justin Beiber, who started out simply as a youtube sensation. This proves that the use of social networking does allow a large possibility for disintermediation.

  12. Chance Engel

    We hear about it more and more each year about some of the stars that we know of and how they were able to become the famous successful people that they are today by using the internet to be discovered as talents.

    I have noticed it most in the music industry. Everyone knows that Justin Beiber was found on the internet in videos he was in on YouTube displaying his musical talents. That turned into a 3 way war between music legends trying to sign him, with Usher being the winner in the end and starting his incredible teen star career. He is now listed as one of the top 3 most influential people on the planet. If it wasnt for the internet and social media technologies would the would have ever encountered the Beiber Fever??

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