MODEL QUARTER: After spending 20 years at Condé Nast, William Wackermann, chief executive officer of Wilhelmina, finds himself at home in the modeling world. “I’m loving it….It’s so nice to stay tangential to the industry, but it’s a whole new game,” he said. On Wednesday, Wilhelmina reported record second-quarter revenues based on an uptick in its core modeling business. Revenues were $22.3 million, a 2.8 percent increase over the prior year. Net income increased to $0.6 million for the quarter, compared with $0.4 million a year ago.
Wackermann attributed the gain to its high-end business. “We have a model named I-Hua, who is the first global ambassador signed to Maybelline. That was a big deal here. She’s from China.” He said also said Cindy Bruna, a Victoria’s Secret model, is the new face of Ralph Lauren Collection campaign, and Francisco Lachowski is the face of Balmain. “We’ve really focused on the talent in the high-end part of our business and we’re having great success there,” said Wackermann, who started in January.
As brands cut back their print campaigns, how does that impact the modeling business?
“They’re doing less print, but they’re doing more digital. They want the models for their Instagrams and want to do videos behind the scenes. While one part of the business is developing at a slower rate, other parts of the business are developing at a much faster rate,” Wackermann said. While the high-end image models are always going to be in demand for the fashion campaigns, he said this gives the agency a chance to develop its social media stars. “Maybe they’re not the face of a campaign, but they’re creating content for a brand and that’s growing tremendously,” he said.
Wilhelmina has always had a Curve division and launched a fitness division in 2007. “Our fitness division has been booming. There’s such a push for ath-leisure, clothes that are performance-based but can be worn on the weekends. We have a whole division of models who work on all those ath-leisure brands.” Wilhelmina opened a studio with personal trainers, who are on set, to make sure the shoots are authentic. Its celebrity division represents such people as Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas and Shawn Mendes for commercial endorsements.
Asked what he considers the biggest opportunity for the agency going forward, he said, “The September fashion season we’re coming into. We have incredible new talent and new faces that people will be real excited to see.”