Garfield's AdReview

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The Advertising Age story about the new Revlon campaign sounded truly promising, especially the description of "separate spokesmodel executions."

Now that's a reality gimmick we hadn't thought of. Lethal injection? Phen/fen? It sure seemed to explain the soundtrack in the commercials, from Ilya's debut album "They Died for Beauty."

But apparently we misunderstood. The $100 million multimedia effort by Deutsch, New York, doesn't claim any lives. On the contrary, it's an effort to restore one to the long-moribund Revlon brand.

Impossibly beautiful actresses Halle Berry and Julianne Moore join impossibly beautiful models Jaime King and Eva Mendes in a series of vignettes intending to imbue glamour into a name long synonymous with "supermarket makeup." On the plus side, you don't have to schlep to Sephora to get gouged for a bottle of foundation. But undiscriminating distribution has also given Revlon the romance and urban chic of Del Monte.

Hence this advertising, to transform an unapologetic mass brand from total declasse to legitimately seductive. And, we've got to say, pretty well done.

The campaign is titled "Bellisimo," which is Italian for "the most beautiful."

Of course, Del Monte is Italian for "of the mountain," which doesn't make the string beans taste any less soggy. The key is to create a plausible connection between the claim and the goods, which these very cinematic commercials actually manage to do.

The premise is the intertwining of four not-quite-a-story lines, as we see each of the beauties responding to an enigmatic message about a rendezvous at "634." In languid, super-slo-mo glimpses, we watch their journeys, amid the rich colors and sensuous textures of the city. Meantime, we get to see them apply and wear various Revlon products: Super Lustrous Lipgloss, Colorstay Overtime Lipcolor and New Complexion One-Step Compact Makeup.

Naturally, these babes don't require New Complexion One-Step anything, as they were all born without pores. But cosmetic advertising has nothing to do with reality. Even the demonstration shots-Look! She sipped her coffee and left no lipstick on the cup!-are secondary. What matters is the seductive imagery, the haunting song, Ilya's "Bellisimo" and the implied adventure. Where are they being lured?

The destination turns out to be a Revlon photo studio, where the goddesses laughingly compare their headshots. Anticlimactic? Maybe, but it's a clever step down to earth. Too exotic a denouement would have required too much of a leap. This work is a giant stride for brand image, but, after all, that brand is still located about 20 small steps from the detergent aisle.

Where ideas happen

For many reasons, ad agencies seldom advertise themselves. So on novelty grounds alone we were struck by a 30-second spot for and by the tiny Ungar Group, Chicago. We were doubly impressed by the production, done for the cost of a hotel breakfast. It's a shower head with hot water gushing out, from an unseen party's POV. Best of all, the superimposed message: "How many people does it take to come up with a big idea? Then why work with a big ad agency?" 3.5 stars

Revlon

Deutsch, New York

Ad Review Rating: 3 stars

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