No More Mister Nice Girl

June 3, 2012

By Jacqui Palumbo

© Caesar Lima

T-Mobile girl Carly Foulkes in the "No More Mr. Nice Girl" campaign.

Model Carly Foulkes is most widely known as “the T-mobile girl,” the cheery beauty who became the face of the network carrier in 2010.  As one of the top recognized commercial personalities today with her bubbly personality and signature pink dresses, it was a daring move for creative agency Publicis Seattle to give her an image overhaul with a darker, sexier alter-ego. Their campaign “No More Mr. Nice Girl” features Foulkes in a black leather and pink jumpsuit with a Ducati bike, representing the fast network speed and cutting-edge technology of the T-Mobile brand.

Creative Director Kevin Amter comments, “To force radical reappraisal of the brand, we did what few others would consider: reinvent an iconic spokesperson.” Television personalities rarely evolve, remaining iconic through their stationary traits. To take on the challenge of “Carly 2.0,” the creative team at Publicis Seattle knew they would need to find a photographer with a strong vision. Art Buyer Pamela Vaska selected beauty and fashion photographer Caesar Lima for his style, experience and the confident beauty he brings out in his subjects. “He shoots fashion with drama, flair and tact and…his models are not cold, stone faced statues or overtly sexual. They have depth,” Amter explains.

Amter and fellow Creative Director Kerry Feuerman’s concept was to bring out a superhero edge in Foulkes. Lima says he was excited to learn of the assignment, and was given full creative freedom over the studio shoot. He chose to simplify the initial idea for a noisy background, opting for a clean black backdrop and dramatic lighting to reinforce the idea of sleek, modern technology.

Lima has been photographing strong, alluring models for most of his career. He creates a sense of fantasy in his images, always taking unique approaches and viewpoints. “I always try to shoot in a way that is not common to the way we normally see things,” he comments. “I don’t like to shoot what’s real. I’m not a journalist, I’m an image maker.”

His technical skill in lighting is remarkable and is apparent in all of his work. Foulkes glows in the campaign ads despite wearing black against black. The challenge of shooting in a difficult lighting situation is not something Lima shies away from, he thrives on it. Instead of starting out with a “blank canvas,” he prefers a “black canvas,” adding light into the composition to sculpt the scene, like a dramatic Baroque painting. Lima’s skill comes from a career of practice, starting out with still life studio set ups and then transferring his knowledge to beauty and fashion.

Lima says he loves working in a group, pooling creativity together for the best solutions. His collaboration with the Publicis Seattle creative team, hair stylist David Keough, make up artist Amy Oresman and wardrobe stylist Hala Bahmet was ideal, transforming Foulkes into her darker alter-ego with ease. “It’s an amazing feeling to be able to work with such creative people that allow you to do what you do best,” he says of the team.

The images from the “No More Mr. Nice Girl Campaign” are currently up on billboards, on the web and in print ads across the country. For more of Caesar Lima’s work, visit his Web site.