Toth Casts Shepherd In Role of ‘Easy Spirit’
Agency: Toth Brand Imaging, Concord, Mass.
Client: Easy Spirit, White Plains, N.Y.
Creative Director: Michael Toth
Art Director: Joanne Reeves
Copywriter: Janet Champ
Producer: Derek Ruddy
Production Co.: Venus Entertainment, New York
Director: Matthew Rolston
Iher one-woman stage show, Cybill Shepherd says she only wears high-heeled shoes nowadays when “they’re pointing toward the ceiling.” That brassy self-confidence has landed the 48-year-old actress the starring role in a TV campaign created by Toth Brand Imaging for women’s footwear maker Easy Spirit.
“We want to give the brand a fresh look and perspective,” says Toth art director Joanne Reeves, “and there’s nothing more modern for women than simplicity–and refusing to wear painful shoes.”
Supported by a $10-15 million media budget, a series of three or four 15-second television spots and a limited print component are scheduled to break nationwide in April. The black-and-white TV commercials will run within the same half-hour of programming so viewers get the campaign’s message–and Shepherd’s self-assured attitude–in a single sitting.
In one spot, Shepherd conveys the importance of letting go of the small things and “hanging on to the important ones.” Hugging her teenage daughter, Clementine, she commands viewers to “know the difference.”
In another commercial, she talks about aging gracefully. “Laugh lines are good because they mean you’ve been laughing. Age is good because the alternative sucks.” In a third, she implores the audience to “never apologize for laughing.”
Each spot ends with a new tagline: “This is your life. Live it comfortably.”
The scripted ads are “shot in a very stream-of-consciousness fashion, with witty moments of clarity,” says Stacy Lastrina, vice president of corporate marketing at Easy Spirit. “We call them ‘Cybillisms.'”
The commercials were written by Janet Champ, who recently left Wieden & Kennedy to launch a freelance career.
The spots were directed by Matthew Rolston, who, in addition to making music videos, directed the Gap’s “Khakis Swing” spot, one of the most popular ads last year. Rolston was tapped both for his body of work and because he topped Shepherd’s list of directors for the project, Reeves says.
Toth won the Easy Spirit account last year by promising to create a persona for the brand that would speak to women slightly younger than its typical 45-plus consumer. “We want to appeal to women who are comfortable with themselves, who have mastered marriage and career and may say, ‘I know who I am. I know who I’ll never be,’ and who live with that with a certain grace,” Reeves says.
Shepherd’s selection as spokesperson stemmed from focus groups where consumers were asked to identify an “easy spirit” that personified the brand’s attributes. “Cybill is perfect for our brand,” says Lastrina. “She’s beautiful, independent, confident, stylish–and she’s into comfort.”
Shepherd made her film debut in the The Last Picture Show, then went on to play a confident, sharp-tongued private eye opposite Bruce Willis in the TV show Moonlighting. She also starred in her own sitcom, Cybill, for four seasons on CBS. A seasoned spokesperson, Shepherd has appeared in ads for Breck shampoo and Revlon.
Easy Spirit hopes the comedic actress can help reposition the brand. “Easy Spirit is a brand in transition,” Reeves says. “It was a little dowdy.” Previous ads featured habit-clad nuns and power-suited female executives playing basketball in pumps and carried the indelible tagline: “Looks like a pump. Feels like a sneaker.”