An agency house ad features two martini-drinking femmes fatales poised to kiss each other on the lips. The headline: ‘Drinking buddies’; the tag: ‘Broads on booze.’ The broads in question, Ann Anda and Elena Scotti, are the copywriting heads of Anda and Scotti, a $12 million, New York-based shop that handles such accounts as Playmobile toys, Chic/H.I.S. jeans and USA Weekend magazine.

The ad is part of a provocative self-promotional campaign targeting companies that traditionally advertise to men, like liqueur makers, but are starting to go after women, too. With 80 percent of all purchasing decisions made or influenced by women, it’s an obvious marketing route for Anda and Scotti to travel. ‘Our message is, We have what you need to appeal to women,’ says Anda.

Anda and who? Few have heard of this low-profile, 10-year-old, 12-person agency, housed in a loft at Broadway and Prince. But its founders hope to change that. ‘We didn’t set out to position ourselves (as women marketers),’ Scotti explains. ‘It just evolved; it was sort of organic. The philosophy just permeates the work.’

Examples of this philosophy can be seen in their work for Chic jeans, the $19.95 Kmart alternative to Levi’s or Calvins, in need of a fresh image for the ’90s. Instead of anorexic, druggy-looking models, one ad in the current print campaign shows a wholesome young thing posed in her Chics, with the copy, ‘I’m not perfect. Big deal,’ and the tagline, ‘Chic. Look like yourself.’ While it’s unlikely to set any pulses racing at Cannes, the ad’s design speaks to the target audience with an anti-glamor approach. ‘Our work tends to be subtle,’ Scotti says. ‘It doesn’t hit you on the head, but it does communicate with the customer.’

The client certainly thinks so. ‘(Anda and Scotti are) in touch with what women want in the ’90s,’ says Elaine Scott, director of advertising and marketing for Chic. ‘We didn’t want to use sex and we didn’t want to use a model. We’re saying, ‘Hey, as women, we’re comfortable with who we are; we know we’re not Cindy Crawford.”

The comfort factor is also the premise of the agency’s campaign for The Partnership for a Drug-Free America, in which a series of teenage girls speak about their problems in the present and hopes for the future. Simple, moving and direct, each spot hits home and ends with the message, ‘Girlfriend, you are beautiful.’

‘Inner-city kids loved it,’ says Doria Steedman, director of creative development for the Partnership. ‘It was shown in classrooms, and the kids recited back the ‘Girlfriend’ line. It’s empowering for young women.’

In a recent TV spot for Playmobile, two sets of parents come together and find they have nothing to talk about. One mother breaks the silence by saying it’s nice their kids play together. The other mom describes the toys the kids are playing with and how ‘it’ll make them more interesting as people.’ Epiphany strikes with a simple idea that covers new ground and appeals to parents.

Are women-led agencies more attuned to the female consumer by virtue of their gender? ‘It’s an orientation that men can possess as well,’ says the 44-year-old Scotti, whose previous career featured stints in promotion and publicity at Doubleday and cause marketing for Lincoln Center. ‘The guys who work here are plugged into that orientation. But we walk a fine line because we don’t want to be a company that’s thought of as a bunch of feminists. We don’t want to get into sexual politics. It’s a delicate balance.’

Two years ago, they hired David Biebelberg, a former Griffin Bacal account director, as managing director. ‘We needed someone to talk the talk,’ says the 50-something Anda, who had previously worked at BBDO on Diet Pepsi and GE. ‘We were dealing with men who felt uncomfortable with just us, because there was no counterpart here for them.’ The incongruity of the situation was not lost on the two businesswomen.

‘Women are progressing a lot faster than the business we operate in,’ Scotti says. ‘It’s time for the world to catch up.’

Copyright ASM Communications, Inc. (1997) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED