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Thursday 30 August 2018

How to be in an ad campaign

Pinch me! No, don't! I want to ride this surreal wave for as long as possible. You may ask, what's going on, Mel? Well, I'll tell ya. 

I'm in Nordstrom's first-ever Canada-wide advertising campaign. Gaaaa! Picture me happy dancing around the room when I was asked, the Mel football touchdown dance, as it were, not a pretty sight. Be glad there's no video footage or a soundtrack, which would go something like this, "Oof, oof, ouch," as I ran into furniture.

Of course, I should be droll and say, Oh, pfft, another campaign? Pulleeeze, make the carousel stop. I need another break in St. Tropez STAT. Pick me up in the yacht at eight. And shoo those pesky paparazzi off the driveway!

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret in Nordstrom's True Nord media campaign
Just so you're not confused, Mel in the red dress is BEFORE, normal-sized head; Mel in the suit is AFTER, swelled head. (Campaign launch party, Broadview Hotel, Toronto, Aug 27)

This campaign is called True Nord, which is a clever play on words: Nord, short for Nordstrom, and nord, French for north. The team flew me into Toronto for several days last month and put me up at a fine hotel, then flew me in again for the launch party earlier this week. 

What did I have to do in this project? Well, try on new, fabulous Nordstrom clothes, pose like mad, and act, just a little. Oh, and get paid for it. Hahaha.

There are several key points I learned from this experience I'd like to share with you. 

1.  Being in an ad campaign is a lot like being a secret agent

You're not allowed to talk about it. This was verrrry difficult. Someone would ask me, "What'sup, Mel," and I'd shrug and mumble, "Oh, you know, same 'ole, same 'ole," maybe jingle the keys in my pocket or look up and comment on the weather, while inside I'm screaming my head off with excitement. 

Now I know why secret agents can be tortured souls - they get a big break and they're not allowed to say anything. Next time you ask your friend, "Hey, what'sup," and she shrugs and says, "Oh nuthin'," you'll have to ask yourself, whoa, is she in an ad campaign?!

2. It takes a village to look good

Hairstylists, makeup professionals, style/wardrobe gurus, executives, creatives of all sorts. It was incredible being surrounded by so much talent, all top of their field. So, yes, it took a village to make me camera-ready. 

But what was so cool is how everyone on set and off brought their personal best to the project, not merely to do their own job well, but to bring out the best in their colleagues too, like they did with my makeup, hair, and wardrobe. There were ricochets of positive energy everywhere. True teamwork on every level. So impressive.

3. I am proud to be Canadian

The True Nord theme of the campaign really made me think about Canada and what it means to me. I shamefully admit that I had forgotten the words to our national anthem because they have changed through the years, so I looked them up on Wikipedia. Imagine my delight to discover that four of the song's ten lines have exclamation marks. Vindication! I use !!!'s all the time because it's in my friggin' blood, people!! 

Also, the campaign showcases how Canada is inclusive, diverse, and welcoming. Right on! Other keywords enshrined in our anthem are in there too, such as "strong and free." I celebrate all of this. Plus, Canada grows the best comedians. I think there's even a statistic for that in our GNP.

4. Friends make everything better

Yeah, I always knew this, but the point really hit home at the launch party. Shelley of Forest City Fashionista bused in from London, Suzanne of Suzanne Carillo drove in from across town, and Patti of Not Dead Yet Style flew in all the way from Florida. What a night we had celebrating each other, dreaming big, laughing, and taking pictures. Suzanne did a write-up here. Shelley did a write-up here.

Patti Not Dead Yet Style, Suzanne Carillo, Shelley Forest City Fashionista and Mel Kobayashi before Nordstrom True Nord campaign party
Patti, Suzanne, me, Shelley taken with Suzanne's selfie stick. Hurray! The only photo of us together. Check their blogs and IGs for more photos. And the Nordstrom website/IGs.

We met in my room at the Broadview Hotel beforehand and Suzanne surprised us with celebratory drinks and gourmet chips. She knows me so well! After the party, we went to a nearby restaurant for a late-night bite. 

On the way out, I heard crickets and cicadas in the park across the street - absolute magic. It's been a long, long time since I've heard them as they seem to have abandoned downtown Vancouver. So friends and bugs, it doesn't get much better than that.

True Nord commercial 

This campaign speaks to my heart - it emphasizes such a great message of hope and acceptance. I was thrilled that they included me, an "oldster," (word from Lost in Space TV series, 1968, "Promised Planet") who is also from Canada's West Coast. 

It was a privilege to be in a scene with Harjas Singh and his "daughter," Estelle Habermayer, which was filmed while riding a streetcar through Toronto. I couldn't even make this stuff up. There is a multitude of people whom I thank from the bottom of my heart for making this experience possible.

Below are a few photos from the pre-party and party taken by Suzanne and Shelley. I was too busy working the room, as they say in the biz, to remember my camera. 

 With model/stylist Mirian Njoh. She is a designer and sewist as well.

With Ishie Wang

True Nord cast with Michelle, Nordstrom Canada Executive VP, next to me

Patti Not Dead Yet Style, Suzanne Carillo, Shelley Forest City Fashionista before Nordstrom True Nord campaign party
 Patti, Shelley, Suzanne

Patti Not Dead Yet Style, Suzanne Carillo, Shelley Forest City Fashionista and Mel Kobayashi Bag and a Beret before Nordstrom True Nord campaign party
 Patti, Suzanne, me still with clips in my hair

Mel Kobayashi of Bag and a Beret with Nordstrom photo from True Nord campaign August 2018
It's the end of a long day. A framed photo from Nordstrom worn as badass necklace. They also gave all of us bottles of champagne when we left the party.

And that's my story, folks, or one small part of it. I've been feeling squished in my blogging lately, needing to keep all of this news under wraps, cloak and dagger. Consider this post a big exhale, a great big satisfying exhale. Now you know. 

What else have I been up to? "Oh, nuthin'." Jingle, jingle. "Nice weather we're having."

I'll link up this amazing outfit, which is also from Nordstrom, to Patti at Not Dead Yet Style and her Visible Monday, and Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb and her #iwillwearwhatilike. See you's guys there!

Exhale!!!! ←Exclamations because I'm Canadian, eh? Has anything caught your breath lately?


  1. HOLY SHIT, MEL, YOU'RE A SCHTAR!! I had to drag L in to watch the video (HA! It's Mel! He yelled). So proud of you, Nordies, Canada, wow, just WOW. Hugs, and good vibes to you, my dear - I get to say I knew you when (and costarred with you in our own movie!). Congratulations, and so happy you got to celebrate it with your besties. :)

  2. Well, of COURSE! This campaign needed you. Nordstrom is patting themselves on the back for getting you to promote them.

  3. Congratulations!!!!!!!! You look gorgeous!! You all look so beautiful---I love that so many friends got to join you to celebrate!

  4. I'm just so darn happy for you! GO Mel!

    It was fun to see you twice come out my way and celebrate your special moment.

    The mountain that is Melanie was able to move around and it was a blast! Now I know why I also love to use exclamation marks. Thanks for clearing that up : )

    This is the tipping point woman. Just the beginning. Can't wait for the next good weather ; P


  5. Wow oh Wow! ! ! Way to go Mel! I'm speechless, this is so awesome, cool. You look like you've always been there - with both tribes - the Nordies and your friends. Congrats forever all across the universe.

  6. So exciting!!! (See, as a fellow Canadian I can use exclamation marks too!!) Huge congrats, Mel darlin’! You are gorgeous inside and out.

  7. Girl...I"m cheering you on and on and on!! You are my inspiration!!

  8. Congratulations all over again! And I'm impressed that Nordstrom had the smarts to grab you up! Big points for them. And your acting, on that bus -- clearly you have a whole other career ahead!

  9. How exciting Melanie! You are looking amazing! I love how Patti, Suzanne, and Shelley joined you and shared a piece of your limelight! Ha, I must have Canadian ancestors, as I'm also a fan of the exclamation mark! xxx

  10. Cheering right along everyone else! What a fantastic experience to be a part of. Thanks so much for sharing it!

    (Yep, another fan of the !!!)

  11. Oh, Mel! Why can't I stop crying? Every time I think of your commercial, your experience, big ol' tears well up in my eyes and I find myself on my feet, clapping in an empty room, as if I've just been to the premier of the world's greatest theater production.

    And maybe that's it--I'm here "at the beginning" so to speak, though it's not really the beginning. You've worked hard for this and you deserve every moment, every opportunity, every feeling of joy and pride, every exclamation point! Here's hoping for more reasons to jingle those keys and talk about the weather!

    - Sherry

  12. AW MELANIE...I'm so stinkin' happy for you girl! You know that now whenever I ask what's up and you say not much I'll never believe you. We'll part ways after coffee and I'll secretly follow you to your current campaign, movie, paid soiree event.

    But SERIOUSLY, You rocked that campaign, as did the rest of the team. The ad really is a feel good piece. You should be proud! xo

  13. It is big! It is fantastic. It is so well deserved. As Sheila said: you are now definitely a schtar. Eveybody in the street is going to recognize you. Did you realize that?
    I hope that big modeling agencies are going to fight over who is going to represent you. What a blast. I would love to do the same but hey.. I am not you. You are unique and at the top.
    Glad you had your friends with you at the launch party. O didn’t feel like it?

  14. Joining in the happy dance for you Mel, congratulations. The campaign looks a wonderful way to celebrate Canada's diversity. So good that your friends were able to celebrate with you.Well done, we always knew you were a star.

  15. Wow! How great to be part of such a terrific campaign. You look fantastic, as always. Here are some extra exclamation points all the way from New York: Congrats!!!

  16. Oh my goodness, you are a STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!!! Not surprised! You look absolutely amazing in the photos and the ads. So glad that they realised you're amazing! I remember chatting to Anna on Tresco and her saying, you will do something amazing one day- you have star potential! Yesss.
    That MADE my day to hear the National Anthem had !!!! in it. I LOVE those! I wrote a poem about exclamation marks once- I should look for it- I'll send it to you!
    How nice to have Patti, Suzanne and co to share it with yoU!x

  17. That was such a great night, and I was so happy to be able to be there to celebrate it with you. Congratulations, and many hugs. The campaign is awesome, and not just because you are in it ;)

  18. I’m one of those awful people who love to read your blog but never comment, but an occasion such as this demands a response from me. Like everyone else I’m just super pleased and delighted for you Mel. Bloggers such as your self and your friends give so much to make the world a happier and more interesting place. And you have absolutely earnt this recognition and reward.
    Gotta love a Canadian! Always have. xx

  19. That's so great Mel. I first found out on Suzanne's blog and was excited for you. An honour richly deserved. Lucky Nordstrom to have found you.
    P.S. Love that image of you jingling change in your pocket. Something my uncle reputedly did when he was lying to my aunt. Ha.

  20. Truly fabulous news Mel! The advert is awesome, strong and stylish as are you of course. Your cloak and dagger act sums up my life too of late as I've been tied up in the same game of filming and skulking until finally some images came out this weekend too. The TV advert doesn't come out until later this month but I'm already excited at the prospect of the group of women who represent our brand in amazing technicolour.
    Bravo my dear!
    Anna x

  21. How wonderful to have this recognition for all that you are and have yet to become. Your beautiful Canadian self, your bold expressive style, your sharp, sometimes self deprecating wit and relentless authenticity are on the move. Nordstrom has discovered a brilliant firefly in you Melanie. Please maintain your ferocious independence as you ride this whirlwind of beginnings. Congratulations!!!!
    Love, Jude

  22. Bravo, Mel! Love it - congrats!

  23. Bloody brilliant!!! You look absolutely incredible in the Nordstrom picture too – which isn't a surprise, you always look freaking gorgeous, woman!
    Suzy x


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