|Take a regular person, put on the right sunglasses, and people will wonder: Is he a celebrity? Take a celebrity playing a part, add sunglasses, and her character becomes a relatable person.|
PLAYING MATCH MAKER
Gene In Dirty Sexy Money, Zoe McLellan’s character wears shades to her father-in-law’s funeral. Minnie Driver’s character in The Riches uses sunglasses to con and deceive her neighbors. Each don the same eyewear brand: Face à Face. And Alison Statler, the energetic founder of Contact Public Relations, made it happen.
|Face à Face, Ylang 1
Contact PR handles product placement in television and film for the Paris-based eyewear company, as well as for lifestyle, furniture, and handbag clients. Statler has even landed authors’ books on prop coffee tables and into story lines. Along the way, she has earned a reputation for under-standing studio needs and fitting her clients into those requirements.
“Face à Face is such a diverse optical brand,” says Statler. “We have a contemporary style, but it can lend to vintage. I could never do this without a company that can accommodate all different characters.”
HOW IT’S DONE
A decade of building relationships—with studios, costume designers, prop masters, set decorators—has garnered Statler an enviable database of A-list contacts. She keeps current by regularly reading everything from The New York Times to entertainment trades to Web sites. For Statler, deciding which productions to pursue is as much about experience as it is instinct and intuition.
"It's common for someone to send me a script," explains the publicist. "I'll read it to get insight into the storyline, then pick and choose styles that would work best for the character. I pay attention to who's working on the show, maybe they're up-and-coming actors. If I get a good sense about it, I'll pitch."
Meetings and fittings follow to cast the character-defining frames. And as with most products seen worn by an actor on screen, this often translates into retail demand.
|Face à Face, Spray 1
AS SEEN ON SCREEN
Thanks to Statler, her client’s sunglasses have made their way onto television shows like Life on Mars and the soon-to-premiere Castle with Nathan Fillion. Annette Bening’s fashion editor character in The Women wears sunglasses from the company’s Boops line. An added bonus: posters for the film also include Statler’s jewelry client.
In The Proposal, opening this June, Sandra Bullock will be wearing Face à Face. After discussing the character and Bullock (two different things) with her contact on the film, Statler made a selection. They went with the company’s Ylang line, making it “the only eyewear in the movie.”
“I can suggest frames that I think are perfect,” Statler says. “Maybe 50% of the time, that’s the one they go with. But ultimately, it’s up to the actor to decide. I have plenty of competition vying for the same face, same character.”
TAKING IT TO THE STREET
“These characters in film, on TV, are everyday people,” notes Statler. “Ask yourself, ‘Who is the character walking into my store?’”
When trying to fit the right sunglasses to a customer, Statler suggests a few lifestyle considerations, including: What do they do? Is it a customer you already know who’s going through a tough time? Does he want to get noticed? Maybe, she wants to differentiate herself with a new look.
“These days, people are shopping around. Be service oriented, follow up. Customers will come back for service.”