In the Drink

Clad in futuristic bikinis, glittery, punk-coifed models resembling a cross between Ziggy Stardust and extras from Blade Runner are gathered at a private indoor pool outside Boston to help Modernista! stage its first national campaign for Veryfine.

After hours spent getting their exotic makeup and costumes just so, a photographer protected from the water by a Plexiglas tank shoots the models striking poses while submerged beneath the reflective surface. The images will be manipu lated so the models appear to have been poured into bottles of the client’s Fruit2O flavored water.

Veryfine, which in recent years has spent $1-2 million on ads, is planning to lay out at least $10 million this year in an effort to establish Fruit20 as a household name. This is the brand’s first major image advertising.

Kristen Toli, marketing and communications director for the Littleton, Mass.-based client, previously worked on the account at Boston shop Holland Mark. After the agency closed in October, Toli was instrumental in Veryfine’s hiring of cross town shop Modernista!

The agency says the campaign will portray Fruit20 as a guilt-free, no-calorie indulgence. Though a tag line is still in the works, copy will be derived from the “Tastes great. No calories!” positioning now used for the brand’s promotional material.

Veryfine president Sam Rowse, in attendance at the shoot, explains the process. “Modern ista! starts with the graph ics and [captures] the essence of the product, and then they put words to the graphics,” he says. Gary Koepke, co-founder and creative director of the shop, says, “The tag line shows itself when it’s ready.”

On day two of the shoot, at a suburban mansion, Koepke crouches at the pool’s edge. Whistling playfully and batting drop lets from his hair, he watches to ensure that the tone of the shoot is in sync with his visual concept—depicting the brand as hip, playful and fun.

Modernista! chose to shoot locally with area talent, “so we could really control the environment,” says Koepke. “From a production point of view, it has to be spot-on.”

A CD player fills the steamy pool area with techno-flavored dance music. Photographer Craig Orsini snaps away in his tank, which is weighted down with 600 pounds of cobblestones and suspended against one wall of the Olympic-size pool. He uses a media-format camera, which shows the models on a viewfinder.

A spiral staircase leads to the spacious basement, where Jane Choi and Fred Vandebunt have set up shop. The makeup artist and hairstylist have virtual free reign—so long as the results are water resistant. One big table holds hundreds of multicolored rubber brace lets, hair accessories, gloves and glitter. Another is covered with pots of makeup and brushes. Two clothes racks are filled with bikinis, tube tops, spiky-collared blouses and flowing gypsy skirts.

“They wanted very bright pri mary colors and a bold, edgy look,” says Choi, painting a thick band of emerald-green across a model’s eye. She employs surgical glue to get the makeup to stick. Vandebunt moves around Choi, furiously sculpting the models’ exotic hairstyles, crafted from yellow, red and green synthetic hair that’s mixed with Knox gelatin and sewn into the real locks.

Isabelle Carter, a Los Angeles-based stylist, created the costumes, which combine tulle, lace, mesh, spandex and satin in a range of pinks, greens, blues and yellows. Some were made to order, others she sewed herself, and she combed vintage stores for the rest. “We wanted to keep the look high fashion yet funky,” she says.

Veryfine is counting on Modern ista!’s fashionable take on the flavored water—breaking in May in city magazines—to garner as much attention as the agency’s work for clients such as the Gap. “We’re a small company playing the game with the big guys,” says Rowse.