Barbara Lippert's Critique | Adweek Barbara Lippert's Critique | Adweek
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Barbara Lippert's Critique

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She's gorgeous and sexy and smart and charming. And I think Sarah Jessica Parker's slightly imperfect look makes her so much more attractive and interesting as a spokestress for hair color than your standard model-actress. Especially Kelly LeBrock, who did, in fact, say, "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful." (I think she later married Steven Seagal, which seems too heavy a price to pay even for that unfortunate utterance.)

This is the second spot for Garnier's Nu trisse brand (the No. 1 hair color in France) featuring the Sex and the City star. Hiring Parker as en dorser was a stroke of genius—she's a compelling person in her own right, but she also brings a tremendous well of socio-stylistic goodwill (not to mention the upscale and happenin' demographics) that comes with the millions of fans her HBO show has. And the environment of the show is perfect for advertisers: It's about consumption and the quest to get what you want, whether it's $300 Manolo Blah nik shoes or a marriage proposal.

As sex columnist/fashionista Carrie Bradshaw, Parker has been all over the place in terms of hair, from chin-length, curly and reddish in the very first show (not a good look) to longer and blonder in each succeeding episode. The show is about sex, money and power and, inadvertently, hair power. Sometimes Parker wears her hair blown straight, as style dictates. But she's most memorable, and powerful, when she lets it go naturally cork screw-curly: It becomes its own spontaneous, ecstatic halo. So when I saw this commercial, I could only wonder: Where is Sarah Jessica Parker, and what have they done with her hair? Why restrain it so? What happened to Hairy Carrie?

The body and face and voice are there, but she sports a tremendously attended-to, shiny-brown Miss- America-contestant/flight attendant/ country-singer-type do. I know the '70s are cool, and hair like this (long and blown and waved and even slightly winged) shows shine and softness and swing better, but did they really have to make her hair look like Wynona Judd's mom's in order to do that?

I can understand wanting to shock with a new color. In the first commercial, Parker appeared as a platinum blonde. She spoke in a boop-boop-be-doop type voice, some where between Marilyn Monroe and Mae West. And maybe now that everyone is platinum blonde, from Roshumba to Michael Gelman, the creatives were right to go the opposite way. And Parker does mention "30 different try-something-new shades."

Top beauty and fashion photographer Matthew Rol son shot the spot in Parker's own apartment, and the look is fashionable and dreamy, very much the way Sex and the City romanticizes New York. The cutaways—of the back of her head wearing just the coloring gunk, in a sort of chignon-look—are also very elegant, as is the green fruit graphic.

I also like the fact that the commercial is miles beyond "Hi, I'm Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City, and when I want to color and condition my hair …" Rather, she's just there with her new favorite color, "Brown Sugar Number 63." She keeps repeating that her hair is "gorgeous and soft, incredibly soft." And she ends with, "Trust them, they're experts." Which is funny, considering that on the show she plays a "sexpert," but with the contradictions of life in the '00s, she's constantly stymied and questioning, and can't even trust herself.

Oddly, for a program so saturated with fashion and style, the four gals almost never discuss hair or clothing—they're too busy assessing the finer points of male genitalia.

In that department, Samantha (the character played by Kim Cattrall as if she were a gay man in drag) is constantly experiencing a Goldilocks scenario. And that could apply here too: In the first commercial, the hair was too light. In the second, too dark and restrained. Maybe in the third it will be just right