Apr 7, 2007

Because You're Worth It

Stumbled upon this fascinating old New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell about the two women who came up with the seminal home hair coloring campaigns of the 1960s and 70s. Shirley Polykoff and Ilon Specht were two famous old-school copywriters from the days when there actually seemed to be a number of well-known female creatives*.
And, more importantly, when advertising seemed to matter more, when it seemed to reflect and interpret the national psyche on a more visceral level.
What's fascinating about the two campaigns discussed in the article: Clairol's "Only Her Hairdresser Knows For Sure" and L'Oreal's "Because I'm Worth It" is how quaint and naive they now seem, both strategically and tonally. Gladwell's a great writer though, and the article is well worth the 15 minutes or so it'll take you to get through it.

*Particularly noteworthy, given the recent death of the legendary Diane Rothschild.


Jenne said...

This is one of my favourite articles of all time. I read it in college and at the time was working as an editor of the student newspaper. I related to it then and relate to it now, although I'm so grateful that such smart women paved the way for the my generation. And yeah, some of those campaigns may sound a littel quaint now, but given their impact and longevity, they're still good examples (in my opinion) of good creative.

Ad Broad, oldest working writer in advertising said...

Thanks for this, Toad. I'd always meant to excavate this article--SP was legendary at one of the shops that gave me my start--I think jenne is right: the stuff is more sophisticated than it might look from this side of the millenium. As I understand, the biggest problem Clairol manufacaturers faced at the time was how to market to consumers without disenfranchising their core salon base...