By  on March 31, 1994

NEW YORK -- Maidenform thinks women take their bras for granted, so it has a new ad campaign, with an increased budget, emphasizing what the bra does for them in terms of comfort and look.

At the same time, it continues the whimsical approach that has marked the company's advertising since its "dream" ads that began in the Forties.

The two 30-second TV commercials portray what Marilyn A. Bane, Maidenform's senior vice president of consumer marketing, calls "an approachable fantasy."

Each commercial starts with a woman getting dressed, including a shot of a bra, and then shows a sequence of events that win her recognition. At the end, the Maidenform logo is shown, with a voice asking: "What's your lingerie doing for you?"

"Women have almost gotten blasÄ about their bras in their search for the right price," added Bane. "We've discovered that women now generally underestimate the importance of a bra and its function."

The commercials are the foundation of Maidenform's $6 million ad budget this year, a 30 percent increase over last year, when the budget was cut, she noted. As usual, about half of the spending is going for TV and half for print. The print ads, using single pages and spreads, will tell the stories told in the TV ads.

One of the commercials, entitled "The Joke," made its debut Monday on prime time cable TV and will run four weeks on the Entertainment, Nick at Nite and Lifetime channels. Print ads will be placed in May and June magazines and resume in September, when TV advertising will also resume for two months with the spots on network early-morning shows and during prime time.

Maidenform also plans to buy time during a "blockbuster TV movie" that has a woman's story line, Bane said. The movie has not been chosen yet.

Each ad shows, in the course of the story line, one of Maidenform's seamless bras. These bras wholesale from $9.87 to $10.81. However, Bane pointed out that the ads are not product ads but rather brand ads, aiming at a woman who wants to look and feel good in her clothes, while recognizing her aspirations as well.In "The Joke," a young woman lunching with friends at a restaurant tells a joke that a talent agent overhears. The screen test she gets as a result is seen by a TV executive, who gets her a spot performing a comedy routine on a late-night talk show.

The second commercial, entitled "PTA," shows a woman of the baby boom generation at a PTA meeting. Her comments to the school board prompt such a wave of reforms that the school is renamed for her.

The ads are shot in black and white to convey an "editorial richness and texture that resembles the news," said Bane.

Julie Newton, creative director of Ogilvy & Mather, Maidenform's ad agency, noted, "We've represented an exaggerated scenario to deliver our message -- your bra should do something for you. It might not land you a spot on late-night TV or get a school named after you, but it is supposed to deliver a benefit."

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