With nearly 30 people ogling and staring, Brazilian model Fernanda Mellon lowers herself onto a wooden beach chaise, ruffles her honey-highlighted curls and sticks her tongue out at the video camera perched on a moveable dolley in front of her.
One of two models hired to star in the first national televised commercial for Venus, a Jacksonville-based Web and catalog swimwear business, Mellon is wearing a push-up bikini and high heels in a darkened downtown television studio.
An official sponsor of the Miss America Organization, Venus’ commercial will debut Jan. 29 during the Miss America pageant telecast on the Country Music Television cable channel. And along with the 30-second commercial slot, every Miss America contestant will be outfitted in Venus swimsuits during the show’s “health and fitness” portion. It’s a decidedly sexy departure from last year’s swimsuit sponsor, Speedo – a company know for its athletic apparel. Unlike the sporty Speedo bikinis in muted tones of gray striped with pale yellow or red worn by contestants in 2006, Venus bikinis are generally skimpier, with flirty fabrics in psychedelic or python prints.
And that’s the idea. Pageant officials say the skimpier bikinis are more contemporary with today’s contestants – and viewers. Media and pageant experts surmise that the upped sexiness could revive Miss America’s “starchy” image and sagging ratings.
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