CREATIVE STRATEGY: How to waste an Oscar winner

By Simon Kershaw, brandrepublic.com, Thursday, 24 March 2011 11:46AM

Anyone who reads our trade press will regularly see headlines along the lines of "Bloggo company announces some celeb as the new face of Brand X".

Lancôme: Absolu Nu ad shows little of Winslet's talent

Lancôme: Absolu Nu ad shows little of Winslet's talent

Supermarkets have been playing this game for years.

Only recently, Morrisons proudly told us that its new advertising spokesperson is Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff.  Is employing the lanky Lancy lad a reflection of the grocer’s Northern roots? Dunno. But it seems a natural fit.

In contrast, one recalls with horror Iceland’s Kerry Katona ads. As someone cruelly, but wittily, said: "It lacks realism. Iceland is far too upmarket a store for Katona."

It comes down to the dark art of casting. And after all, even Hollywood gets it spectacularly wrong. Orlando Bloom as an elf, fine. Orlando Bloom as a blacksmith-turned-Crusader-knight. Don’t think so.

Back in brandland, even more than supermarkets, cosmetics companies always need a "face". So for example, Lancôme has Kate Winslet.

On paper, this looks like a marriage made in heaven. Ms Winslet is unquestionably beautiful in a classic, English rose style. But more than that, on the evidence of various interviews, she’s intelligent, funny and natural.

As for their commercial relationship, Ms Winslet says she was a Lancôme consumer before they signed her up, and further claims that the company shares her view that true beauty comes from within.

So far, so good. And then we get to the recent launch ad for Lancôme’s Absolu Nu lipsticks. Have a look...

Underwhelmed? Quite. Lancôme’s PR people did their best to puff up their little film. Mario Testino shot it. Whatevaah! And, hold the front page – Kate Winslet is naked!  What, you missed that bit? That’s because she’s wrapped up in a sheet during her long and apparently extremely dull phone call. Modesty is preserved throughout.

People who like Winslet will like the ad just because she’s in it. And that’s all can be said for it. Not a jot of her personality or talent comes across. She is almost unrecognisable in the creamy, yellowy, airbrushy art direction. And all the script asks of her is to look nice, apply some lipstick, and hold her own breast for the closing shot.

One can’t blame Winslet for taking the gig. But everyone else involved needs a creative makeover.  

Simon S Kershaw is a creative consultant and a former creative director at Craik Jones.

This article was first published on brandrepublic.com

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