By  on June 8, 2007

Less Product is more in John Paul Mitchell system's latest advertising campaign.

The Beverly Hills, Calif.-based professional hair care company is following its 2007 ad campaign shot by Annie Leibovitz sans shampoo bottles and styling aids with a teen campaign focused on sponsored athletes' and select Paul Mitchell Schools students' charitable efforts. The newest ads, primarily aimed at 15- to 30-year-old consumers, are scheduled to appear in Cosmo Girl, Teen Vogue and Seventeen starting in September.

"That doesn't sell one product, but it tells you about our culture," John Paul DeJoria, chief executive officer and co-founder of JPMS, said of the Leibovitz campaign, which made its debut in April Vogue reflecting his dedication to family and nature. "If we do the same thing with the youth of America, they will get that message."

Photographer Steven Lippman, who has shot for PureOlogy, Neutrogena, Anne Cole and Paige Premium Denim, captured eight images for the youth-oriented campaign, dubbed Head for Change, last Sunday and Monday at Sunset 5 Studios in West Los Angeles. Stephanie Kocielski, artistic director for Paul Mitchell, handled hair, Glen Jackson did the makeup, and Paul Beahan was in charge of the wardrobe.

The images' subjects were outfitted in black and white, and were photographed with objects highlighting their activities. For instance, Paul Mitchell Schools student Natasha Vranic, a fashion enthusiast who champions women's issues, was draped in cloth printed with the phrase, "Giving Back is the New Black," while fellow student Matt Fine, a drummer involved with the environmental organization American Forests, was pictured with a drum containing the words "Trees Rock." Snowboarder Lindsay Jacobellis and surfer Holly Beck cradled, respectively, a snowboard and a surfboard with the slogan, "Every Drop Counts."

Albeit subtle, branding is apparent with the John Paul Mitchell Systems logo below the sayings and the black-and-white color scheme, evocative of the brand's packaging and former ad campaigns. "We used to advertise in black and white because that is all we could afford," said Robert Yates, a creative consultant to JPMS. "We have gone back to our roots."

DeJoria, who has become synonymous with the brand in advertising, posed with his daughter Michaeline during the shoot, who also was wearing "Giving Back is the New Black" gear. JPMS is not certain at this time whether the image will be used in the campaign. With hair pulled back into a signature ponytail, DeJoria strolled into the studio casually dressed in jeans, a white linen jacket and black T-shirt, and complimented Lippman on the Jimi Hendrix playing in the background.DeJoria declined to disclose the budget for the teen campaign and insisted, "If I didn't sell one more product with this ad, it would be successful because people would know what we do and our culture." However, Yates indicated that leaving products out of JPMS advertising has netted positive results, saying the company experienced its "best first quarter ever" this year. The privately-held company does not publicly release sales figures, however industry sources said the company generates as much as $800 million in salon retail sales.

JPMS has tapped Paul Mitchell Schools' students and athletes repeatedly to be featured in ads aimed at salon trade and sports-specific publications. But, the newest campaign marks the first time the ads will reach magazines with broader circulations. Two- and four-page inserts, and singles of the ads will run in the magazines, and ads with the athletes will still be placed in sports-related titles.

In addition to magazines, the students and athletes will be featured on a Web site that tells their stories with words, photos and streaming video, including footage of the photo shoot. Nanette Bercu, senior vice president of creative for JPMS, noted that imagery from the teen campaign would be taken on the road for stops at five to eight college campuses and around 15 sporting events, where people will be able to learn about charities, most notably American Forests, the Waterkeeper Alliance and Invisible Children, and perhaps receive haircuts if they give small donations.

Paul Mitchell Schools student Rachel Burney, a model for the campaign who works with Invisible Children, which strives to improve the lives of children affected by wars, won't be able to make it to any events in the near future. She's headed to Africa this month for the sixth time to visit schools in Uganda.

"I have already had malaria twice. Whatever," shrugged Burney.

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