Agency: J. Walter Thompson USA, New York
Rating: 2 1/2 stars (out of 4)
She's dark-haired. She's exotic. She's beautiful. She's shaving.
Her name is Magali, the up-and-coming fashion model. And in a new campaign from J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, her face is full frame, lathered with shave cream.
"So you do this every day, huh?" she says to the audience of Everyman. "Poor baby. And this is a guy thing, right? That's not so bad. You guys are so sensitive. [Clowning.] Ouch!"
Voice-over: "For the man with sensitive skin, Schick introduces the all-new Tracer FX..."
Magali: [shaving a swath under her jawline.] "Is this the sensitive part, right here?"
VO: "...with its unique Skin Guard, designed for a smooth shave with less irritation. The shaving system for sensitive skin: Schick Tracer FX."
Magali: "Are you the sensitive type? [Wiping excess water from her lip.] I like that."
At least one European fashion magazine, enamored of her Mediterranean earthiness, has dubbed Magali the "Next Sophia Loren." But nothing in this campaign suggests Loren. These spots conjure up one other exotic beauty only: Gunilla Knutson, the Scandinavian model who 30 years ago shaved a man with Noxzema to the tune of "The Stripper" and aroused an entire generation of American males.
"Take it off," cooed the Nordic goddess, her cornsilken hair falling seductively over one eye. "Take it all off." It was the most overtly erotic commercial that had ever run, stimulating shave cream sales and male libidos in roughly equal proportions.
Nothing of that sort is apt to happen here.
For starters, the whole audio track is hollow and distant, and because it has been sweetened with water splashing and dripping sounds to texturize the shaving experience, the spots sound as if they were recorded in a cave. Then there is the premise itself: If the Tracer FX can be handled so cavalierly by this poreless young model, imagine how kind it will be to your sensitive skin.
Huh? What exactly would this demonstration tell us about shaving irritation?
Mediterranean earthiness or no, this lady doesn't have whiskers. So she doesn't have anything for the razor to scrape and drag against, and so therefore what exactly is there to irritate? This is a dramatic demonstration of nothing at all. Magali for Tracer FX is like Michael Jordan for Midol.
Finally, there is the model herself. Magali is truly stunning, but if the object was to create an erotic sensation, it was undermined when she was permitted to open her mouth. Not only are her teeth a bit weirdly spaced for the perfectly idealized sex object, her chirpy voice is coquettish and annoying.
Generally, of course, Ad Review doesn't grade women on some sort of babe-o-meter, but the object of this campaign is to detonate the first post-Noxzema shaving bombshell and we don't see this particular model exploding on the scene.
It's not that the campaign isn't in some ways arresting. If you're flipping channels and see this woman shaving, and you have any stray testosterone whatsoever, chances are you'll stick around to the bare skin. But in terms of grabbing male America by the glands, we would paraphrase Sen. Lloyd Bentsen:
I remember Gunilla Knutson. Gunilla Knutson was an adolescent fixation of mine. And Magali, you're no Gunilla Knutson.
You can e-mail Bob Garfield at EFPB35A@prodigy.com.
Copyright November 1995 Crain Communications Inc.