Debonair Marketing - Complaint Letters
To Whom It May Concern:
My son and I were shopping in Target over the weekend. Two women ran up to me and asked, "Is that your son?"
I told them that he was.
One of them introduced herself as a talent scout from a company in Beverly Hills, California, called Debonair Marketing.
She said that my son had the looks for commercials. She handed me a card and asked me to attend a screening the next day (Sunday) at 2:00 pm. She asked me to bring a picture and have him dressed in a bright color.
My son didn't seem to care one way or another if I brought him, but I thought it might be interesting.
When we arrived, there were a lot of children waiting for a screening. Some of them had professional pictures and some of them didn't.
While we were waiting, they had the parents fill out a form. The form asked a lot of general questions, and then asked the parents' annual income. I was very suspicious and chose not to include that information.
Each child was on video and asked a couple of general questions, and then moved to a table.
At the table a gentleman was there claiming to be a manager. He took one look at my son and said: "I don't usually do this, but I would like to manage your son."
He said that he had nice eyes and was very good looking. He asked us to move to a room where a lady was waiting to talk to us.
We went to the room and the lady asked my son some more general questions. She said that they would have to talk to a lot of children, and if they were interested, they would call me within a few days.
I was very suspicious and did some internet checking. I found a similar story involving the same company.
The next day, the lady called and told me that my son was one of four chosen out of 311 children.
I asked her if there would be a charge. She told me in order for him to be sent out on auditions, he would have to have a seven-step course. Each step would be a couple hundred dollars. She said it was a small investment, because in the long run each commercial can pay $3,500.
I took her number and never called her back.
I did more research on the internet and it pointed out that if they ask you for money, it is a scam. If they were really interested in my son, they would invest in him.
What do you think?
According to the BBB, it appears Debonair Marketing is a model or talent management company. They describe the nature of their business: "This company's business is providing talent and photography services for children."
Two of the most common ways aspiring models are scammed are through upfront fees for training and photos. They offered your son training and the BBB says they also provide photography services.
What can a marketing firm do for you which an agency does for you? Modeling agencies market and train their models. These model management firms appear to try and avoid the laws which restrict upfront fees.
Find an agency with a license. In California modeling/talent agencies must obtain a license. Licensed agencies are much safer for new people starting out. With anything else you may have few options if you get scammed.
The pickup line used by the "manager" is not very original. "I don't usually do this, but..." is not an uncommon way of trying to set up upfront fees. Same with the tired pickup line: "It is nothing compared to what you will be making."
If these people sincerely believe your son will have the ability to earn $3,500 for commercials, they can take the money for classes ($1,400) out of his first paycheck, instead of asking for upfront fees.
You did not say how old your son is, but considering the amount of work available for kids, paying $1,400 is very expensive and an unusually high risk.
Thank you for your response.
It is a shame there are people out there trying to take advantage of innocent children.
I am glad that I did some research. I had no intention of ever calling them again. I had looked them up in the BBB as well.
I didn't understand the difference between a marketing company and an agency. Thanks for the clarification.
To Whom It May Concern:
My friend suggested I should look online regarding the "Debonair Management" agency. I am glad I did!
I read what a parent wrote regarding this agency. I too was approached by a talent scout. My fiancé and I, along with my nine-year-old daughter, were approached by a talent scout 01/11/03 in Robinsons May at Del Amo Mall.
The lady (name withheld) asked me how old my daughter was and said that she had the look she was searching for.
She told me that she produced "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," and she wanted my daughter to come in to do an audition at 2 p.m. on Sunday for a McDonald's commercial.
She told my daughter to wear blue to bring out her eyes, told her she was pretty, and to bring a photo.
She handed me a card with her name, etc., and told me that if my daughter gets the part she would get $48,000.
After my fiancé and I heard this we were concerned and very worried, so I called my friend about it. She told my daughter that she could use that money for CD's or clothes and toys.
My daughter was so excited that she might have a chance to be in a commercial!
I sat my daughter down to explain that things aren't that easy.
Well, the letter I read was what I needed to know.
If I took my daughter to Beverly Hills for the commercial audition and then found out there wasn't one at all, but people to take money to market you, my daughter would have been devastated, and it would have wasted our time.
After I read the letter I had to tell my daughter that it wasn't a good idea to go.
She promptly cried knowing the harsh reality that she was misled and lied to.
The lady flat out lied to my daughter which wasn't even necessary.
I wish I could have protected my daughter, but I was led to believe that maybe this might be the real thing.
Thanks to the lady that wrote the letter. She saved my daughter from being hurt more and me losing money.
Are you sure it's the same company? The first letter was about Debonair Marketing. Your letter was about "Debonair Management."
There is only a BBB listing for Debonair Marketing, although it sounds as if they claim to offer management services, and they are based in Beverly Hills.
You said the lady told you she produced "Sabrina the Teenage Witch."
TV Guide said the producers of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" were Richard Davis and Alana H. Lambros:
After reading the response, I realized I put the wrong name. The name on the card is Debonair Marketing in Beverly Hills.
I am very aware now that the person who approached us was not a producer for the Sabrina The Teenage Witch sitcom.
The reference given was for the movie, since you had not specified it was the sitcom, but, in any case, how credible is it that someone with the stature of sitcom producer is wandering around a mall, scouting?
To Whom It May Concern:
My nine-year-old son was also approached by a supposed talent scout from Debonair Marketing on 01/11/03 in the Torrance Area, approximately one mile away from Del Amo Mall.
The talent scout also said she helped cast Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and was interested in having my son audition for a McDonald's commercial.
Like the other parents, the talent scout instructed us to bring him to a casting audition on Sunday from 2-4 p.m. in Beverly Hills, dress in light colors, and bring a school picture.
I discovered your website while searching the internet for information to show my sons about modeling scams.
I'm very thankful for the other parents who took the time to write about their experience to share with others. This helps validate what I explain to the boys about dishonesty.
To Whom It May Concern:
"Official Response from Debonair Marketing."
Having chosen to be in the entertainment business as my life's work, I am well aware of fraud and deception in the Acting and Modeling industry. That is why I started Debonair Marketing as a free service to parents who want their kids to be seen by various entertainment companies.
Some of the content provided on this website (and by the BBB) about my company is false and I thank you for the opportunity to set the record strait, as I have every show during the past 3 years when any parent came up to me during the screening process with a question.
Debonair Marketing has never charged a fee to parents who were invited to bring their children in for a screening. Debonair Marketing is paid up-front by various entertainment companies who depend on Debonair Marketing to find new faces for them.
Debonair Marketing does not work on a 'kick back', or 'commission' basis based on whether somebody chooses to pay for any program or service, (like photos and training in the future).
Debonair Marketing is not affiliated with, nor does it hold any ownership interest in the companies that may call the talent after the screening, if there is interest in the child.
Debonair Marketing works with many different entertainment companies that may find interest in a particular talent that has been scouted and screened.
Debonair Marketing knows that the long-term success of any company in this industry depends on having successful clients work in the Acting and Modeling industry.
There are many children right now working successfully in the entertainment industry, having come to one of Debonair Marketing's free screenings before getting set up with the people who helped them get started.
I will let the satisfied parents respond to any negativity.
To Whom It May Concern:
Earlier today my father and I went to Costco. We were in the shampoo aisle when a lady approached me and asked if she could speak to my father.
She introduced herself and told me that she was with a talent agency. I was told that I was what they were looking for, that I was a shoo in.
She then gave me an invitation to a screening that is happening this sunday in Beverly Hills.
I was very excited and very curious if I was just dreaming.
After dinner, my curiosity led me to look up this so-called "Debonair Marketing."
I then came across your website. After reading all the content regarding the agency, I don't know what to believe.
Please give me advice as to what I should do, because I really want to go to the screening.
Scouting in the Costco shampoo aisle sounds odd, but if you really want to go to the screening, and it's free, there may be nothing to lose.
Just find out if they are going to try and sell you anything, either expensive photos or classes or something else.
Often screen tests, free auditions, or open calls are designed to set up a sales pitch. Not saying that will happen to you, just be alert.
"Debonair Marketing" does not sound like a model or talent agency (most have the words Model Management or Talent Management in their name), but that may be a minor point.
If you decide to go, please write again and share your experience.
Crimes of Persuasionon