AD LIB: FRESH CARATS
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
NEW YORK — A beautiful model and a logo just don’t cut it anymore. Women today crave information.
That’s the opinion of Joan Evans, a marketing and fragrance executive who teamed up in December with Alvin Chereskin, former chairman of AC&R Advertising, to form Fresh Carats Ltd., a marketing and advertising firm.
Chereskin is best known for his creative work for Estee Lauder for 28 years. He retired from AC&R Advertising in 1994. Evans, a psychologist, has previously worked for such clients as Time Magazine, Remy Martin, Godiva, Nina Ricci, Georgette Klinger Salons, Revlon and Chanel.
Fresh Carats’ current client roster includes Annick Goutal fragrances, Go Silk and Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon.
WWD chatted with Chereskin and Evans in their offices about what kind of advertising connects with women.
WWD: Has there been a psychological shift in what women respond to?
Evans: They’re very savvy and they’ve gotten very cynical. They want to be able to identify with whatever the message is. You need to speak to them, not at them. A lot of the research I’ve done over the years indicates that women love to fantasize, but there has to be a believability in the fantasy.
WWD: What are women looking for in a fashion ad?
Evans: Women’s values are changing. They’re not as preoccupied with clothing. Through all the research we’ve done, I know that women want information, and if they’re going to make a $1,500 investment in a suit, they want information about it. I don’t believe a logo and the name of a company are enough anymore.
We know that editorials have much more credibility than ads. In an ad, I want to see the product clearly. I don’t want to see a model flying through the air. If there’s something special about the detailing, I want to see that, or a stitch or a weave. I want to know what the point of view is. What’s special about the product? Clearly, there’s a trend to copy-heavy advertising. Look at Coca Cola and Nike.
Chereskin: Why is it right for a newspaper to give all the information about an outfit, but not for an ad in a magazine? Is it all image? Maybe just the simple, “Here I am, buy me” doesn’t work anymore.
WWD: What bugs you about fashion advertising?
Chereskin: The supermodels overshadow the product. I always felt the Lauder model was never more important than the company.
WWD: Which current ads do you admire?
Evans: Maybelline, the Ponds Institute, Oil of Olay. Oil of Olay was the first mass product that advertised in a prestige environment and made its product look expensive, yet it was affordable. I really like the ad for Calyx, the fragrance. It’s tropical; it shows nature and that the scent comes from plants. As soon as you see the ad, you know it isn’t an oriental. You know it will be natural, floral, green. The imagery matches what’s in the bottle. It sets up an expectation in the consumer’s mind.
Chereskin: CK One. Calvin Klein knows his audience and his look. The distribution was new, unisex was new. It was absolutely noncontroversial, with broad mass acceptance. I also like the Sunflower ads. The name, the attitude and the price were all consistent. The fragrance delivered the image. The new DKNY campaign got me from the color viewpoint. The Reebok ads really stopped me. Their Versa training ad was brilliant. It was educational and visually very exciting.
WWD: What’s new in the way advertisers are marketing their products?
Evans: We’re seeing a very big shift in the way advertisers are making decisions in “niche” marketing. The best example of a car company that’s really fallen into a narrow niche is Saab. Its print ads in fashion magazines are terrific. It uses illustrations, as opposed to photographs, and defines its target niche and talks directly to them. Another example is Quaker Oats. It’s now running full-page color ads for its rice cakes in fashion magazines. It says an awful lot. It’s targeting women who eat sensibly by putting the product in the image category.
WWD: What makes a great or memorable ad?
Chereskin: A great ad should be a piece of communication that the reader says, “I know you’re paying for this, but I agree with you. What you’re saying is true.”
Evans: Good advertising should be entertainment.
WWD: Why don’t more advertisers use humor in their ads?
Chereskin: What’s your concept of humor? One man’s humor is another man’s poison. I think we’re living in a continent where there’s not a universal humor. We’re very regional. We’re not like one ilk. It’s hard to be humorous and not offend somebody.
Evans: I think the High Karate ads were one of the only successful humorous campaigns for men’s fragrances. The whole concept was witty and humorous.
WWD: Do you think controversial ads sell products?
Chereskin: I think the Benetton ads were reprehensible. I thought the idea that he [Oliviero Toscani] did social documents under the guise of Benetton was the wrong place at the wrong time. Why not just run the ad without the logo then? It was not his job to make a social commentary.
We once ran a series of ads for Health-Tex in the New York Times Magazine in the late Sixties called, “Handy Answers to Hard Questions Asked by Children in the Health-Tex Years.” One ad asked, “Why are people of different color?” We got thousands of positive letters, but two big Southern retailers said they would discontinue the line.