A new trend among many fashion and beauty brands, it seems, is to use young, pretty up-and-coming actresses in their ad campaigns rather than established movie stars. Some examples from the past couple of seasons include Felicity Jones at Dolce & Gabbana, Mila Kunis (who may be inching her way to movie stardom) at Dior, Emily Blunt at Yves Saint Laurent, Emma Stone at Revlon, Emma Watson at Burberry, Elle Fanning at Marc by Marc Jacobs and Hailee Steinfeld at Miu Miu.
While many critics have pointed the finger at Marc by Marc and Miu Miu for using girls who are too young to wear or afford the clothes they advertise, there’s another potential issue, which is that those brands’ target customers have no idea who these ladies are.
Last week, Vanessa Friedman wrote on her Material World blog for the Financial Times that there has been a devolution in the celebrities brands are choosing to front their campaigns–that we’ve gone from movie stars like Sharon Stone, Gwyneth Paltrow and Elizabeth Taylor to an era of stars chosen solely based on “attractiveness” and “a momentary flurry of paparazzi attention” such as Jones, Blunt and Kunis. She compares them to models in terms of interest level and writes, “I don’t relate to them and I’m not all that interested in them. They don’t have the track record of the brands they represent.”
She definitely isn’t wrong. For example, when British newcomer Felicity Jones, who is undeniably gorgeous, was announced as the new face of Dolce, some people were surprised that the decades-old label chose someone so unknown. In fact, I barely knew who she was other than that she had been on our best dressed list a couple of times. But then I looked her up, watched the trailer from her new movie, saw her on the Rachel Ray show one morning and thought she was so cool and had such amazing style and was clearly the next big thing and omg I love her. Granted she is barely recognizable in the makeup ad (below), but I was impressed that Dolce had the foresight to realize that she could possibly help portray the brand in a new light.
In the case of Mila Kunis at Dior, it does feel like an odd choice but not necessarily because she’s uninteresting or not old enough, but perhaps because she’s not as much of a “serious” actress as other ladies who’ve been chosen to represent the brand such as Marion Cotillard and Charlize Theron. Even Natalie Portman, who’s only 30, felt like a better fit. It feels like Dior is trying to make Kunis into something she’s not. At the same time, her mass appeal is undeniable–Kunis sold more magazines than any other cover star this year.
I would also argue that for most of these actresses, the “flurry of paparazzi attention” is not “momentary” and that most of them are merely in the early stages of what could be long, successful careers.
To be fair, I’m not really a customer of any of the aforementioned brands. Most of their products are pretty far out of my price range and I don’t have a lot of red carpet events to go to–nor do a lot of the people my age who think Elle Fanning and Felicity Jones are awesome.
Maybe a significant portion of the people who could afford–and have reasons to wear–these labels are too old or don’t pay enough attention to red carpets and fashion blogs to know or care who these actresses are. And maybe a campaign star that feels familiar or relatable to a customer is more of a motivator than someone they’ve never heard of. If so, these ads may be alienating to those people. Of course, a fashion company could have myriad reasons why they chose a particular lady as their face for a season. Maybe they want to be more relevant. Maybe Dior feels they have the more mature market locked down and is trying to go after a younger, more rough-around-the-edges type of girl. Maybe Marc Jacobs is just obsessed with Elle Fanning because she’s amazing and didn’t care what anyone else thought.
What do you think? Should big fashion brands continue hiring young, hot starlets or go back to the Gwyneth Paltrows and Nicole Kidmans we know and (may nor may not) love?