As Executive Vice President and Creative Director at Grey Advertising, Mark Fina has helped to foster the images of some of the top brands in the beauty industry. He currently works with Covergirl, TJ Maxx, and NFL Women’s Apparel, just to name a few. Earlier this year he visited Skidmore to talk to marketing classes about his unique perspective on the beauty industry and how to truly understand a target market.
In his presentation, Fina discussed his involvement with planning and producing both print and television ads. He focused on his work with Covergirl to explain how to portray the image that a company wants through its advertisements. Covergirl deliberately chooses celebrities with strong, unique personalities (such as Drew Barrymore, Queen Latifah and Ellen Degeneres) as the faces of their campaigns. On set, Fina encourages these women to relax and improvise so that he can really capture their personalities on film, since Covergirl is all about originality. Fina has a background and degree in fine arts and spoke about the differences between creating art for yourself and creating visuals for beauty companies or fashion houses. He explained that in the art world, it doesn’t matter if people don’t like your painting, while in the advertising world, other people’s perceptions are everything.
We had a chance to speak to Fina after his presentation and ask him a few questions about his work and what he likes to see on a resume. Anyone interested in working in the fashion/beauty business, take note!
WWLW: You talked about your transition from fine arts to advertising, but what exactly was the first job you had in advertising?
Mark Fina: My first job in advertising was for a small local Tucson ad firm. I was an unpaid intern for a very short time. My job consisted of illustrating for newspaper ads and doing mechanical paste ups. I clearly remember one day being asked to draw the words “rock breaking prices” and the letters were literally rocks breaking apart. Terribly hideous. Clearly I didn’t last long there.
WWLW: What qualities or types of experience you like to see on a resume (for anything from an internship to a full-time job)?
MF: For me, there is no patented answer to this. But I do believe real life experience, whatever it is, in business does help. Of course, if it’s in the area in which you want to focus, it’s best. A lot of the time I ask interviewees what they like to do, what they read, if they travel, or what music they like. Sometimes the answers they give help me get a better picture of how enriched their lives are. The more life experience they have usually equates to a better candidate.
WWLW: It seems that you’re involved with almost every aspect of the ads you work on. For beauty product ads, how do you decide what clothes the people in the ad will wear? For clothing ads, how do you decide what their hair and makeup should look like?
MF: Both questions above have the same answer. It all starts with the idea. Once you are clear on what the idea is and you’ve done thorough research, then you can easily get to how to execute your concept.
The thing to remember in creating advertising/communication is that you’ve got to have a very tight vision. And when the vision and idea are tight, the scope of the answer is small and usually a winner.
As an example, in beauty, if the product is expensive and the package is pink and the lip-gloss is high gloss, then you look for wardrobe that will help visualize what the product looks like and feels like. We call this the look, tone and feel. For a fashion ad, a lot of how you decide on the makeup/hair (glam) is largely dependent upon the trend and the positioning of the brand. A wider-appealing and lifestyle-focused brand can be more natural and less polarizing. A high-end and haute brand can be over the top and more unexpected and defiantly more polarizing.
So, in conclusion, the most important thing to remember is to be clear on your vision, be specific about what you want, do your research and be confident.
If you do that, you’ll always know how to decide what’s right.
For more on Grey, visit grey.com/newyork