Ads also bring PR

US film stars discover advertising as a subtle form of image cultivation

US film stars discover advertising as a subtle form of image cultivationBy Thérèse Balduzzi Pop and film stars have always sold themselves for advertising in America as elsewhere. But until now, in America, this has tended to be considered tasteless and has been tainted with the stigma of failure. Recent campaigns provide evidence that this perception has changed.
Actor Jeremy Irons and model turned actress Milla Jovovich loll about on magazine pages in Donna Karan dresses. Penelope Cruz walks in Ralph Lauren skirts, and Matt Dillon stood in front of the camera for Sketchers shoes. A whole host of stars were photographed for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group: Under the title "He (or "she") is a Fan", alternating ads feature: Dame Edna and Barry Humphris, violonist Vanessa Mae, TV star Jane Seymour from the series "Medicine Woman" and Martin Sheen, who plays the President in the TV series "West Wing".
The cosmetics landscape is hardly any different: Jennifer Lowe Hewitt advertises for Neutrogena, Heather Locklear for L'Oréal. Singer Faith Hill can be seen in ads for Cover Girl and Jessica Simpson in ads for Redken Fifth Avenue hair products. Sarah Jessica Parker, who shot to fame with her starring role in the hit series "Sex and the City", advertises Nutrisse skincare products, and Uma Thurman is the new face of Lancôme.
Advertising is sometimes good for cultivating your own image
In the past, stars were more willing to be photographed for campaigns in Europe and Japan. In the USA, they feared that advertising would damage their status because their artistic integrity would be questioned or the public would assume that a lack of commissions was the beginning of all campaigns.
Stars who had passed the zenith of their careers in particular, such as William Shatner ("Starship Enterprise") or former sports stars, gave themselves over to advertising, thereby reinforcing the prejudice.
These fears seem to have vanished: Uma Thurman and Matt Dillon are among the absolute Hollywood A-list. And Martin Sheen and Sarah Jessica Parker are more successful than ever before thanks to their hit series. Some explain the change by saying that pop and film stars are currently the biggest role models. Since fashion designers have been courting film stars and using the Oscar awards show as an unofficial fashion show, for example, film actresses have long since replaced supermodels as fashion presenters.
On the other hand, stars have realized that they can use well-chosen advertising campaigns to enhance their image. Campaigns for luxury products, for example, give themselves a touch of glamor and luxury. "It's PR in an elegant way," says Liz Dalling from the Los Angeles agency Special Artists, which places stars in advertising campaigns. Advertising also offers stars the opportunity to show themselves from a lesser-known side.
But even this wave is not without its critics: the agency Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners from New York, for example, has taken the opposite route in its new campaign for Revlon and hired unknown actresses instead of stars. This is intended to bring the ideal of beauty a little closer to consumers. The Los Angeles-based company L Report, which specializes in consumer surveys, has also found that campaigns featuring stars are more likely to trigger mistrust than trust among young people under the age of 30.

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