NEW YORK: Apparently a library isn’t just a place where you can borrow books. It’s also somewhere that you can pose nude.
That’s what Andy Cohen, then unknown, did three decades ago at the New York Public Library.
Cohen has since become famous for helping to create the “Real Housewives” reality television franchise and for hosting the late-night talk show “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.” Cohen, 54, has also had melanoma.
EltaMD, a sunscreen and skincare brand, hired Cohen to again put on his birthday suit — except this time with sunscreen — for a campaign to raise awareness about skin cancer.
Fred Saldanha, global chief creative officer for Colgate-Palmolive, the owner of EltaMD, at creative network VMLY&R, said Cohen is someone who is always part of the conversation and a big part of celebrity culture. VMLY&R created the campaign.
Cohen posed for the photo in 1994 at the request of photographer Spencer Tunick, who is now known for staging large-scale nude shoots in public places. Cohen, then with long hair, sat outside of the library in front of one of its iconic stone lions.
The shot had not received much attention until 2020, when Cohen posted it on Instagram.
In 2016, Cohen also revealed that he had been diagnosed with skin cancer. His friend and fellow talk-show host Kelly Ripa spotted a brown dot on his lip and encouraged him to get it checked out. Cohen had melanoma removed and now regularly visits a dermatologist.
To highlight the importance of taking care of your skin, VMLY&R asked Cohen and Tunick to replicate the photo. On May 16, Cohen asked his Instagram followers whether he should, and they of course said yes.
Cohen and Tunick did the shoot again in New York, this time at Hudson Yards.
“Thirty years ago, I posed for photographer @spencertunick (swipe for that image),” Cohen wrote on Instagram with the photo. “And I did it again…May is #SkinCancerAwareness Month and I’m partnering with @eltamdskincare to remind you all to wear sunscreen and #GetNaked… for a skin check with your dermatologist.”
Cohen also asked people to tag friends who need a reminder to visit a dermatologist. For every tag in the next 30 days, EltaMD is planning to donate a bottle of sunscreen to the Melanoma Research Foundation, up to $100,000 in value, the post stated.
Celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Amy Sedaris have commented on the photo. “That’s hot,” Hilton wrote, using her catchphrase.
EltaMD did not have a big budget for the campaign, Saldanha said, but Cohen “has that star power” that will help it reach a large audience.
Cohen also participated in videos in which he explains the campaign, his experience with skin cancer and applied sunscreen before the shoot. EltaMD posted the videos on its Instagram feed.
“I would say using him as a spokesperson was great,” said Saldanha, who called Cohen “very natural, personal.”
Wavemaker handled media buying for the campaign, and MML PR managed public relations.