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December 06, 1987|Pat H. Broeske

Have you seen Adrian Lyne's new 30-second spot for Jovan Musk--the one that asks the eternal question, "What is Sexy?"--and then goes on to provide the answer in 29 vignettes?

Lyne is not unknown for directing sexy footage, as witness his features--"Flashdance," "9 1/2 Weeks" and "Fatal Attraction."

The spot, which started running last week, is from Boston's HBM/Creamer agency, and it so steamed up network censors that they demanded eight changes. One: wiggling toes were "too suggestive within context of other visuals. Unclear where she is or what she is doing (or reacting to). . . ." At least that's how the networks put it.

As a result, there's been an avalanche of coverage--some of it pretty smile-inducing. (Consider: the syndicated "Entertainment Tonight" ran both the pre- and post-censored spots; CNN's "Showbiz Today" showed snippets of what the networks didn't think we should see.)

But, hey, what about all the production that went into those sexy images? Like--27,000 feet of film (for 30 seconds!). According to Ron Lawner, HBM's exec vp-associate creative director, the average 30-second spot is culled from 3,000 to 4,000 feet. "So we knew we were overshooting," he said, understating.

The summertime L.A. shoot took three days (and 25 actors). "We were pretty much on the run--we were using all natural light," said Lawner who, along with Ted Duquette, served as copywriter and art director for the spot.

As for the budget: Victor Zast, senior vp for corporate marketing for Beecham Cosmetics (which owns Jovan), said it was the highest in the company's 20-year history.

So how high is high in advertising? Zast told us the average 30-second spot runs between $200,000 and $250,000, and "this spot far exceeds that amount."

In fact, this spot may result in a second, edited from the slew of leftover footage. This according to Lawner, who feels that Lyne brought to the project, "a sense of voyeurism--and I don't mean that in regards to sex, but simply in the way that he shoots people so realistically. They don't look like actors when he's done with them."

Not that anyone involved is nixing the spot's sexuality--or voyeuristic quality. Zast has even come up with a kind of credo for the spot that brings Jovan into the '80s: It's that in this era of AIDS, "this (kind of advertising), which plays to the imagination, is really the safest sex of all."

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