The making of a MONSTER agency
As models and staff buzzed around the chic office in Milan, I sat down with Michael Giannini of Monster Management. His rapport with both the staff and models was immediately obvious as he greeted everyone that passed by with a bright 'Ciao!’. You just need to walk into their energetic office to get a sense of how Monster Management is different. With the likes of supermodels such as Lais Ribeiro and Meredith Mickelson on their books, Monster boasts an impressive line up; yet what really sets them apart is the palpable energy and style of the business itself. Here to talk more about how the agency came about and the modelling industry in general, is our interview with Michael Giannini.
Why is the agency called Monster Management?
Funny story actually. It was literally ten days before we opened the office and we could not find the right name. During this time Kanye West was out with his new single MONSTER. One of our agents had the logo of the song on his computer desktop. Looking at it that day that specific day, he stopped, looked at me and said ‘Michael...what about this….?’ And I was like, ‘Yes! Send it to (another crew member) and have them make logo tries right away!' We flipped one of the letters in the name just to make a possible option for a thumbnail-type mini-logo where the brand can be related to by just seeing that symbol (kind of like the Nike swoosh). That’s where the backwards “N” came in and that's how the name came about.
Do you find your agency synonymous to a monster?
LOL, yes of course! It’s a dynamic or emotion equivalent to an athlete, for example, whose effort and passion allows him to stand above the average. He is considered a “monster” player. With that style of determination we apply that branding to the agency on the whole. A monster agency, filled with monster players, representing monster models, etc etc - everything is bigger and grander than life.
How does Monster differentiate itself from its competitors?
We don’t really look at what other people are doing. We’re focused on our own brand, our own company, our own models, and develop from the inside. We’re just a bunch of nice, kind, driven people, all with a collective vision and synergy of doing what we do to maximize the development and growth of all this agency consists of.
It was also evident from the beginning that our methods and direction of branding, imaging and marketing communications, were considered rather outside the box from what Milano was used to and this, for better or for worse, did indeed set us apart in a way, got people curious and got us noticed.
Adding to this, as opposed to going a rather commercially-oriented direction, we took more of that editorial/image route at the beginning to get that branding out there.
After about two years, we started incorporating step-by-step a bit of a that commercial style - a little bit more mainstream if you will. With specific criteria in mind, we took on girls who embraced a more "mainstream" aesthetic and image that may embrace the Milan market and what many clients search for year round.
Now celebrating 6 years, we’ve arrived at a balance that works to capitalize on all facts of what the Milan market offers.
How has social media impacted your work? Has this impact been positive or negative?
The impact of social media on the modelling industry is huge. Social media has served as both a blessing and a curse at the same time.
In a nutshell, it’s an incredible marketing tool. The Monster site has a numbers section because a model's “following” size is so critical nowadays. It's often unfortunate at times where there are so many quality girls out there that may not have a significant following, but have the talent, work ethic, and all the other characteristics/qualities of being a great model, and on a certain level may get overlooked by certain client productions.
At the same time, social media, helps capture the 3-dimensionality of a model, which is a crucial component in achieving a spot with that successful hierarchy in this industry. Being 3D as a model helps in the branding process of the talent. They may also be an activist, a businesswoman, an athlete, designer, artist, etc etc. It’s an endless list. The challenge at times is finding the right channels to communicate and evolve with it.
How do you typically spot a model?
The old-fashioned way of “scouting” is still used a lot. There’s also a lot of other factors at play such as knowing what the market is looking for in that particular moment and trying to appeal to that aesthetic. Longevity is now a pretty difficult word to obtain- whereas a model used to be able to have a long career, it’s far more cut-throat now and careers by no means may last as long as they used to.
Which features do you find most important in a model?
Personality and attitude are crucial. This comes off on film, on the runway, in print and in appointments with clients - you can sense when there’s that special vibe and energy behind a person. It’s also very important to be comfortable within their own skin. Confident, professional, well-groomed. All cases are isolated from model to model but these are just a few basic fundamentals.
What has been the greatest accomplishment of one of your models in the past year?
It’s probably one of the most satisfying feelings when you see one of the girls, whose career you’ve helped start from the beginning and/or move forward, make all these incredible strides and accomplishments within the industry. There are so many channels to take into consideration.
Even when they reach that elite status, you still see them as your “pride and joy”…like a soccer mom, LOL.
As far as the agency is concerned, I couldn’t be more grateful. Of course, we’re all only human and imperfect in an imperfect industry where sometimes we have to chase behind, and manage, a lot of imbalance - people don’t necessarily see what’s behind all the glitz and glamour within the industry and all that is entailed before arriving to that final visible result. We are part of what’s behind that, we see and/or are involved in dynamics from the good to the bad. So it’s a big satisfaction and gratification when you finish a project/production, or season for instance, and everything comes together in the end with an extraordinary turn-out. Then, to be recognized for all the hard work you've put in as a team makes it so incredibly rewarding and provides the tenacity to strive for more.
Any advice for guys or girls wanting to make it in the industry?
They have to be very conscientious and aware; they have to know what’s going on and stay realistic; hard work and drive (without automatic results & expectations)… it is a difficult and competitive industry, nowadays more than ever. They have to be incredibly professional and embrace all aspects of the way you present yourself, 360’; keep your ears open; stay humble; listen to the people who are guiding you.
Where do you see the modelling industry going in the next five years?
All I know is that it’s become very fast-paced, it can literally change from one day, or one season, to the next. Just like technology and what innovative ideas & creative directions can be “discovered”. Like, who would’ve known that less and less of the population would read (or get their information from) books anymore? Everyone goes online to get their education & seeks knowledge in a matter of 140 characters.
What can we expect from Monster over the next few seasons?
More evolutions !