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Ad Pros: Spring Hits and Misses

NEW YORK -- A series of print ads by Barneys New York featuring gouache illustrations of men and women accompanied by offbeat copy lines -- "Clint was proud of his reputation as a loose cannon," "Raoul was the perfect host, but Eleanor owned...

NEW YORK — A series of print ads by Barneys New York featuring gouache illustrations of men and women accompanied by offbeat copy lines — “Clint was proud of his reputation as a loose cannon,” “Raoul was the perfect host, but Eleanor owned everything,” “Arlene wondered how vegetarians could be so cruel” — was judged as the best fashion or beauty campaign of the season in an informal poll of agency executives.

The Barneys ads are done in-house.

Ad pros were also asked to cite the campaigns they thought were the season’s worst. There were numerous candidates, with Joop managing a multiple mention for its fragrance and jeans, while some prominent designers were advised to freshen up their promotional approach.

Agencies were not permitted, of course, to cite their own efforts.

Helayne Spivak, executive vice president, creative director, Ammirati & Puris: “The Barneys stuff I really do like. They’ve captured an attitude. They always manage to set themselves apart and make a left, but never manage to make a wrong turn. They’ve done many different campaigns, yet maintained a personality through them.

“What I wish had been a little more effective was the Joop fragrance ads. It should have been a little fresher. It looks like a little bit of Chanel and Jean-Paul Goude. It didn’t set itself apart enough.”

George Fertitta, president, Margeotes, Fertitta, Donaher & Weiss: “The best fashion ads are Barneys. They use iconoclastic illustrations and enigmatic lines, instead of the usual photos for fashion. It keeps them on the cutting edge in an adult way.

“The worst fashion ads are Joop Jeans. The clumsy, confusing headlines sound as if they were translated — badly — from another language. The glaringly politically incorrect visuals means this campaign is so bad you can’t even laugh at it.

“In beauty and cosmetics, the best ads are by Clinique. Their enduring campaign means they own the style of simple, sharp and clean photography of their products that says clinical, quality, modern and fashionable at the same time.

“The worst beauty ads are Bijan’s. A self-indulgent, elitist designer pushes cosmetics only an oil sheik’s wife could love. The attitude is very Eighties — way over with.”

Barbara Borejko, partner and creative director, Borejko Leibler: “The best is Barneys because it’s so outrageously strange. It’s so on target for their customer. I think the Barneys customer likes to think she’s unique.

“The worst is Calvin Klein. I’m really tired of looking at Kate Moss. That’s unfortunate, but true.”

Ed Taussig, creative director, G Group, a division of Grey Advertising: “The best thing I’ve seen is the new Casmir perfume ad in Gourmet. The recipes are really good. It’s the first time I ever saw fragrance related to something else sensual. It really was a bit of a stretch that I thought was a courageous one.

“The worst fashion ads I’ve seen are for Sharif bags. It shows a woman on a pedestal, nude. It looks like she’s made out of wood. It has the tagline, ‘Woman by God. Bag by Sharif.’ Both are a mistake.”

Lynne Seid, executive vice president, director of marketing, Partners & Shevack: “The one I really like is the new Louis Vuitton campaign. The reason is this is a brand associated with LVs all over their product, and is ripped off everywhere. They’ve finally put uniqueness and specialness back into their brand name. The campaign has real stopping power and is very engaging.”

“My hate list is Revlon’s TV advertising on the Academy Awards. There’s no product message whatsoever. It’s a very dated look relative to the Nineties sensibility. It continues to be degrading to women. It objectifies them as sex objects. The biggest sin is their Ultima brand advertising looks exactly the same as the Revlon classic line. They haven’t begun to crack the ice on brand differentiation for their lines. The biggest problem at retail is why should retailers carry both, and they haven’t differentiated them. They’re basically shooting themselves in the foot.”

Peter Arnell, chairman and executive creative director, The Arnell Group: “The best is Avedon’s Versace campaign. Versace’s campaigns are always modern, fresh and of a new sexuality.

“For me, the worst is Christian Dior’s cellulite control complex campaign, which is ridiculous.”

Richard Kirshenbaum, partner and creative director, Kirshenbaum & Bond: Best: No comment.

Worst: “Donna Karan. I’m kind of disappointed in her image and how she’s presenting herself. Her campaign isn’t up to her image. I find it amateurish.”

Mark Balet, partner, Balet & Albert: “I liked the Ray-Ban double-page spread with the guy getting out of an airplane. It hearkened back to the 1950s Life Magazine done in a very nice way. It looked modern with a Fifties flavor without being obvious about it.

“I don’t like the Jil Sander fashion ads. It’s always a girl with a headache. It’s so tormented. I’d like to see less tormented advertising. It doesn’t have to be The Marx Brothers, but even a slight whimsy would be nice.”

John Jay, creative director, Wieden & Kennedy: “Nothing comes to mind right away, but the eye-catching thing was the Neiman Marcus/Harper’s Bazaar collaboration, just as a project alone. It was an eye-opener. It got your attention in Harper’s Bazaar, and it was one of the best cross-marketing ventures.”

John Amodeo, partner, Amodeo & Petti: “For the best, in terms of tagline. ‘Maybelline. Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.’ I like the smartness and the line. It’s catchy and savvy.

“The worst thing I’ve seen is Scavullo for Bon Jour. I can’t figure out if it’s goofing on itself or is it bringing back the Seventies? It’s styled so incredibly badly.”