Pro-age advertising campaigns feature mature models, at least in part to reduce the depiction of unrealistic body ideals associated with the use of young models. The introduction of mature models into advertising campaigns may have hitherto unexamined effects on viewers' self-esteem. We therefore compared the impact of mature and young models on women's levels of self-esteem. Young adult and middle-aged women were subtly exposed to young or pro-age female models before completing an affective priming task designed to measure self-esteem. As predicted, exposure influenced only appearance-based self-esteem, but not global self-esteem. Furthermore, age congruency led to decreased self-esteem, whereas age incongruency led to increased self-esteem. Specifically, exposure to young models decreased young women's self-esteem, just as exposure to mature models decreased middle-aged women's self-esteem. By contrast, exposure to mature models increased young women's self-esteem, and exposure to young models increased middle-aged women's self-esteem. The implications for marketing campaigns are discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.