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Ad of the Day: OPI Brilliantly Creates a Whole Alphabet From Drops of Nail Polish


Color can communicate a lot of information, but not as clearly as if it were an actual language. So OPI made it into one.

A sassy, gorgeous new campaign from the nail polish company, created with TBWA's DAN\Paris, turns various shades of the brand's product into an abstract, droplet-shaped alphabet that fans can use to chat on a special mobile app.

In the launch video, a talking red dot—corresponding to the letter A—introduces itself. "My mom thinks I'm very classy, but I can also be pretty naughty," it says.

The idea of anthropomorphic nail lacquer might seem a little silly at first blush, but it's oddly hypnotizing, and a great fit for the linguistic concept. And once the clip demonstrates fully formed words and phrases, the power of the idea really hits: Packaged cosmetics—generally aesthetic, but also relatively mundane—start to look like something more akin to modern art.

Sure, at moments the copy is a little sappy—inviting viewers to "cry in color." But it recovers quickly, encouraging users to "swear in color," too. (Based on the first and third letters, debuted earlier, it's pretty easy to guess which four-letter word is on the screen—kind of like playing a really easy version of Hangman with paint instead of blanks).

The clever tone extends to outdoor and print ads featuring the rainbow code, with lines like "400 colors 10 fingers life is so unfair" and "Last night a color saved my life." The campaign swag, meanwhile, includes all kinds of neat little gems, like a "Don't trust anyone with a chipped mani" (T-shirt); an "I'm almost single" tote; a "Ryan is a good kisser" mug (presumably Gosling?); and an "I do my best to look busy" laptop case (all meaning, unlocked, apparently, by phone).

The centerpiece app, meanwhile, isn't as much work to use as it might initially seem. It translates the color language—type your message in on a standard keyboard (French AZERTY edition in the demo video)—and swipe the screen to decode an incoming sequence. (That might actually make the concept a little less cool, but does significantly lower the barrier to entry, even if it's easy to imagine some lacquer-crazed, chat-happy teenage girls being willing to go to the trouble to actually memorize the alphabet.)

Overall, it's similar in spirit to branded emoticons, but a little more esoteric—probably a good thing, given other marketers are scrambling to beat that fad to death in record time. And OPI's idea is solidly grounded in the product. Given that cosmetics are effectively a form of self-expression already, this just makes it more literal.

"We are a new language for everyone, because color is the universal language," says A, the talking drop of nail polish. That might be stretching it a bit far, given the same colors can have different connotations in different cultures, but the spirit is close enough.

If OPI is really aiming to become synonymous with hue, it's got some pretty stiff competition in Pantone. Then again, Pantone's system is even more complicated.

Lots more images, plus credits, below.

Client: OPI
Agency: DAN\Paris
Client Managers: Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, Ruthi Stirling, Marleine Pacilio, Katie Barth
Agency Managers: Julie Hardy, Philippe Simonet, Hugues Cholez, Franck Botbol
Creative Directors: Franck Botbol, Hugues Cholez, Nathalie Huni
Conception/Copywriter: Glen Troadec
Artistic Directors: Nicolas Cremmydas, Nicolas Barres
Movie Producer: Christophe Courty
Photography: Baptiste Massé/Mécanique Générale
Producers: Justine Myard-Guidi, Mathieu Gauchée
Chief Technology Officer: Ivan Zindovic
Lead Developer: Sidney Bourgallé
Social Media Planning: Lydia Faraj
Music Production: Benoît Dunaigre\Else

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