Ulta Heads to the Small Screen on ‘The Face’

Models will compete to be the face of the beauty retailer's fall and holiday 2013 national ad campaigns.

Nigel Barker, Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova and Coca Rocha during filming for "The Face."

Ulta Beauty wants to give aspiring models a dose of reality.

This story first appeared in the October 5, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The beauty retailer will provide the grand prize on the upcoming reality TV show “The Face,” where models will compete to be the face of Ulta’s fall and holiday 2013 national ad campaigns. Throughout the series, hosted by photographer Nigel Barker, Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova and Coco Rocha will coach 24 up-and-coming models, who will be split into three teams.

“I’m the coach who gives tough love,” said Campbell, who also serves as the show’s executive producer. “I care about all of the girls a great deal and I want them all to be successful, so I give them lots of direction and feedback so that they’re prepared for the real world of modeling. I want them to learn from me and implement it into their work and give it their all.”

Filming is currently under way in New York for “The Face,” which will air in early 2013 on Oxygen.

But Ulta says don’t expect the usual backstabbing and career sabotage rampant on similar show concepts.

“We don’t want to be associated with anything catty,” said Chuck Rubin, president and chief executive officer of Ulta. “The show’s premise of helping someone who wants to be a model and look as best as she can look is what we do everyday. And at the end, they are all going to look and feel better than when the show started.” Rubin said the cast — featuring “some of the best names in the fashion industry” — and the show’s production company Shine America — known for series such as “The Biggest Loser” and “The Office” — prompted Ulta to come onboard.

In addition to being featured in Ulta’s fall and holiday print and online campaigns next year, the winner of “The Face” will make public appearances in Ulta stores, blog about beauty tips and represent Ulta at fashion week next fall.

Rubin, for his part, will not make a cameo on the series, but said a host of Ulta makeup artists and hairstylists will, as they help model hopefuls prep for the various competitions.

With no shortage of reality-based, model competitions on TV at the moment — including “America’s Next Top Model” where Barker was a judge until earlier this year — “The Face” aims to stand apart by presenting competitors with challenges designed to accurately reflect a career as a model, and by dangling a hefty prize: to be the face of a brand.

“We’ve got some of the biggest models in the world mentoring and coaching the competitors,” said Jane Olson, senior vice president, marketing and brand strategy at Oxygen Media. “There’s a sense of realness [to the show],” said Olson. She added that the three coaches bring real life experience as a successful model and brand spokesperson, and the challenges featured on the show are situations that working models actually face. “To be the face of a brand is a really big deal and the supermodel coaches take their roles very seriously,” said Olson. No word on what other fashion icons may appear on the series, but the coaching trio of Campbell, Kurkova and Rocha all walked the runway at Zac Posen’s recent fashion week show. Perhaps Posen will have a role. After all, Campbell started a Twitter account the day of his runway show and has been tweeting about “The Face” ever since, as have fellow coaches Rocha and Kurkova.