For Rochelle Udell, making Revlon more meaningful

For Rochelle Udell, making Revlon more meaningful to the masses is the latest notch in her well-worn creative belt. As the former art director of Vogue, editor- in-chief of Self and founder of Calvin Klein’s in-house agency CRK Advertising, the CCO says she’s learned volumes about how women relate to beauty. She also knows her way around a corporate boardroom or two.

All that experience is being channeled into the in-house team’s May print launch of Revlon’s Star Style cosmetics collections, which are based on the personalities and color palettes of Revlon’s stable of film stars: Eva Mendes, Susan Sarandon, Halle Berry, Kate Bosworth and Julianne Moore. For instance, the ad with Mendes in a slinky gown calls her “sultry, seductive” and is drenched in red. A pink-on-pink ad featuring Bosworth in ruffles describes her as “flirty, feminine.” Tag for the campaign is, “Find your Star Style.” The work takes the classic magazine ploy of inviting a woman to tap her personality type via a celebrity, color and fashion style and adds a heavy dose of leading-lady imagery. “We wanted to expand reality with a nod to old Hollywood glamour,” with dramatic lighting and retro-style close-ups, says Udell. “Everyone likes to play dress-up.” The movie-star motif reaches to the packaging, product names and sales displays that use cinematic terms like “Limited Engagement.”

“Rochelle has an impeccable eye for beauty and knows how to strike that perfect balance between aspiration and attainability,” says Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO of The Kaplan Thaler Group, Revlon and Vital Radiance brands’ agency.

Udell, 61, leads the 75-member Revlon creative team on tactical ads, marketing materials and overall imaging of Revlon, Almay, Vital Radiance and four other portfolio brands. She often partners with the company’s stable of outside agencies on advertising campaigns. Since she joined Revlon in January 2002, Udell has sought unexpected ways to reach women, saying the makeup industry generally sets its creative standards too low. “So many cosmetics ads are interchangeable. You take away the brand names, and you can’t tell one from another,” she complains.

She views her company’s culture as a circle, with her creative group living on the edge with one foot inside and one foot in the outside world. “We are not about austerity here,” she notes. “The beauty business is dynamic. My job is to make sure our creative people stay on the edge without falling off.”