One of the broadcast laws in Venezuela, back in the day, meant we had to shoot commercials using local Venezuelan talent. One of our clients, Revlon, was a stickler for having their commercials look as exactly like their worldwide creative as possible. Nevertheless, these had to be re-shot locally.
One commercial to re-shot was for Flex Shampoo. The commercial idea was that heat from your hair dryer could damage your hair. The creative featured a model stylishly dressed like a cowgirl leaping about with a hair dryer “gun” in a dry, desert environment.
No problem, we could do that.
Finding a blonde model was not that hard. We found one.
The costume was more challenging. To be as exact as possible, and to spare expenses, we asked New York to send us the cowboy costume that they had used. The original model was a woman named Jerry Hall, who later was Mick Jagger’s partner. Our model looked very similar which was why she was cast, so we were on our way.
No one told us that Jerry Hall was 6 feet tall! Our model was a petite 5 feet tall. When the costume came, it obviously didn’t fit. Our girl could swim in it. That delayed our shoot as a new costume had to be made that would fit our model.
There is an area of Venezuela known as the Médanos, near the town of Coro, a day’s drive from Caracas. The city was founded in 1527 and is on the mainland directly across from Aruba and Curacao. The islands’ lights can be seen at night.
The Médanos area, just north of the town, looks like the Sahara Desert with huge sand dunes and cacti everywhere.
Hot trade winds blow the sand constantly. As you might expect from that kind of environment, it is also blazing hot. Perfect for our shoot.
But not necessarily for our actress.
As a bit of an afterthought, we had rented an RV with air conditioning to use as an office, changing room and kitchen during our two-day shoot out in the Médanos.
It was a good thing we brought it. Temperatures were 40 degrees C and higher (100+ in F). What we hadn’t counted on was what our petite model, under the sun and our lights, had to cope with. She kept fainting from the heat. It was a good thing she was small as we had to carry her to the air-conditioned RV to recover.
The RV air conditioning was running most of the time to allow the poor girl to cool off and be able to head back out into the oven like heat. She was a trooper; she was “flexible;” and kept trying take after take until we were able to complete the shoot.
In the end we had a commercial as close as we could possibly make to the worldwide one shot in the US.
Albeit with an actress that was scaled down, but who just as tough as the original.