Byline: Kavita Daswani

LOS ANGELES — The Press Cabinet, a four-year-old boutique advertising agency on Melrose Avenue here, has acquired a reputation for working outside the cupboard, so to speak.
The agency’s founder, Price Arana, believes that in advertising, the unexpected works best. When creating an ad campaign for the hip beauty brand Stila, for example, she eschewed the usual formulaic faces of unattainable beauty and came up with vivid illustrations instead, ones that have since spawned a heap of look-a-likes. For Zum Zum, one of the country’s biggest producers of prom dresses, Arana brought an edgy sensibility — showing a prom hopeful in a cowboy hat with a pastel gown, or showing lean, wholesome boys in open-necked ruffle shirts. And while each ad campaign undertaken by Arana must have its own distinctive appeal, she agreed that there was a uniform trademark.
“I would like to think that if you cover up the logo on any of these campaigns, you’ll still be able to identify them,” she said. “That’s something I really strive to make happen for each company.” Her motto: even the smallest or youngest companies can afford to think big.
Jewelry designer Loree Rodkin, who has been a client of the The Press Cabinet since the agency was formed, said that since implementing Arana’s advertising strategies, she now has invaluable brand recognition. Beyond that, her business has also grown.
“She let me know how important branding and doing campaigns really are,” said Rodkin. “I had never done any advertising prior to us working together.” Arana bought full-page color ad space in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, In Style and Elle, but cautioned her client not to expect “people calling the next day begging to buy the jewelry.” Instead, said Rodkin, business grew slowly and steadily, expanding beyond her stable of private celebrity clients and into top-notch stores. She now spends about 10 percent of her annual volume on advertising.
For Paris Blues, a teen-oriented denim company, it was a natural evolution for Arana to pull the existing creative used on the hangtags and pocket flashers and incorporate them into the ad campaign, which runs in Seventeen, Cosmogirl and Teen People.
Arana said she works best when given creative freedom, and Stila’s founder, Jeanine Lobell, is more than happy to let Arana be in the driver’s seat when it comes to the brand’s whimsical, colorful — and hugely effective — ad campaigns. The fun, must-have products are pitched in a series of postcard-style print ads, featuring the illustrations Stila is now renowned for, and carrying the tag line: “Wish you were here.”
Arana believes that when the economy is slow, that’s when advertising should be revved up. “That’s the best time to advertise. There’s less clutter in magazines so the ads that are there are more showcased. And the perception of a company is not that ‘times are tough’ but that they are the strong ones.”
Rodkin agreed and said she will continue to advertise, come what may. “I’m the kind of person who, in the face of poverty, goes shopping,” she said.