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High-end beauty brands traditionally avoid TV, according to some marketing theories, because anything mainstream is declasse.

Other reasons include budget limitations, the high cost of TV commercial production and the greater efficiency of print for targeting niche audiences and showcasing visual images.

But the rise of microscopically targeted analog and digital cable TV networks, plus the dawn of high-definition TV, may eventually lure more upscale designer and cosmetics advertisers to TV, say industry observers.

"You can't see the subtleties of fabrics and designs on regular TV, but when HDTV becomes mainstream, my guess is we'll start to see more high-end designers use it to showcase fashions ... it will be like Imax for TV commercials," says Mathew Evins, chairman of New York-based marketing consultancy Evins Communications. His clients include Joseph Abboud, a designer of upscale men's wear.

Mr. Evins' agency also assists boutique brands with product placement in TV programs and films. In 1995, apparel designer Sulka sold 5,000 exotic bathrobes, retailing for $1,500 each, after they were featured in the movie "Casino," he says.

Chanel uses TV only sparingly-for its seasonal fragrance ad campaigns-and sticks with print for other cosmetics and accessory advertising due to its flexibility and targetability, says Jean Hoehn Zimmerman, a Chanel exec VP who oversees corporate advertising.

However, Ms. Zimmerman says cable TV may indeed attract more of Chanel's advertising someday if it can deliver a decidedly upscale audience efficiently.

"We have a very niche-driven strategy," she says, "and whatever environment we advertise in has to match our image."

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