When Alec Shankman left his gig as a casting agent for reality television shows to take the helm of GotCast in 2009, the online casting company’s primary focus was helping unknowns get on reality TV.

But he accidentally hit on a different business model. He sells casting services to companies looking for models or actors. Those companies, in turn, open up the roster of possible models or actors to Internet voting, thereby promoting their brands.

“Companies can hire GotCast for less money or the same amount as an agent,” Shankman said, “but also garner thousands of website impressions promoting their brand in the process.”

Santa Monica-based GotCast has landed some big-name clients. Last month, Playboy assigned GotCast to find a model for an upcoming “Miss Social” photo spread. In August, Sony PlayStation cast people for a show about video game testers.

GotCast charges anywhere from $7,500 to $100,000 to host a casting call for a company. Those who audition create a profile of themselves for the contest, and ask their family, friends and public to vote for them. Executives from the company make the final casting decisions.

Shankman hadn’t planned to use GotCast as a promotional tool for companies. But he saw the potential when L.A. fashion website HauteLook used GotCast to find models for its spring ad campaign, and it took off from there.

“It kind of happened accidentally,” he said. “We were hosting casting on our website and it started promoting the brand, too.”

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