REVIVING A LEGENDARY CAMPAIGN

Byline: Lisa Lockwood

NEW YORK — “What Becomes a Legend Most?” one of fashion’s most memorable ad campaigns, is making a comeback.
American Legend Cooperative, exclusive marketer of Blackglama mink, will relaunch the Blackglama ad campaign, in which Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Luciano Pavarotti, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Audrey Hepburn, Rudolf Nureyev, Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot, were wrapped in Blackglama mink. The original ads were created by Peter Rogers and ran from 1967 to the early Nineties.
This time around, American Legend has retained Laspata/DeCaro Studio to update the theme, while retaining the essence of the campaign. The images for the relaunch will be shot in late spring, and will make their debut in fall 2001 issues of fashion and lifestyle magazines.
Rocco Laspata, partner in the ad agency, said they were in the process of lining up celebrities to appear in the campaign. “We will bring the brand back and position it in the luxury market.” The ads will be shot by Laspata.
Asked if it’s wise to tinker with an iconic campaign, Laspata replied, “If you’re going to do Blackglama, people would want to know, ‘why didn’t you use the line so associated with Blackglama?’ It’s so ridiculous not to use it.”
While the nostalgia set is sure to welcome it back, at least one ad pro — namely, Peter Rogers himself — says history is best left unrepeated.
“That campaign should never be resurrected. It died a natural death,” said Rogers, who runs his own ad agency, Peter Rogers Concepts, and is currently working in collaboration with Favara & Raffle on the Judith Leiber and Gracious Home accounts. “That kind of glamour is gone. It was great during its time; it should be left alone. It served its purpose.
“We ran out of legends. We totally fizzled. The last person who did it was Tommy Tune.” Over the years, Rogers featured about 40 different legends for the campaign.
And then there’s one other thing.
“I’m anti-fur now,” Rogers added.
In any event, Edward Brennan, president and chief executive officer of American Legend, said, “We’re going to bring it back to the public’s eye. Laspata/DeCaro understands the history of this campaign, but they’re given free reign to give it a modern interpretation.”
Brennan said American Legend will spend about $2 million for the media and creative in the fall, up from virtually nothing a year ago.
“We were literally besieged with requests from retailers — from local furriers to top fashion and department stores — to bring the Blackglama campaigns back,” said Brennen.
The plans for Blackglama call for American Legend to use exclusive arrangements with selected retailers who will become authorized Blackglama retailers.
Two years ago, American Legend hired Laspata/DeCaro to create a campaign for its Legend furs. Gilles Mendel, designer, used the Legend mink to create the J. Mendel for Legend collection that is sold exclusively at the J. Mendel boutiques in Bergdorf Goodman and on Madison Avenue here. The ad images portrayed models wearing not only traditional mink coats, but also nontraditional mink ready-to-wear and mink accessories, such as vests, knitted sweaters, blankets, hats and a pink mink bikini. According to Brennen, retail sales for American Legend and J. Mendel tripled in 1999 and increased again in 2000.
Brennan noted that in the past, furriers could use Blackglama, but it was not always handled in the best light. “We need to establish certification of certain retailers, so consumers can feel confident. They’ve had a free ride, but they have not treated the brand properly. We’ve been working on internal controls for quality assurances. We haven’t been promoting the brand.”

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