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Economy

Mad Women: “Because I’m Worth It”: L’Oréal’s Catch Phrase Still Fabulous At 40

Today it sounds a bit stuck-up, cheeky maybe. But when it was created in 1971, L’Oréal’s “Because I’m Worth It” slogan was downright revolutionary. Invented by a young woman not unlike Mad Men’s Peggy Olson, the catch phrase is still a L’Oréal standard.

A 1978 ad with actress Meredith Baxter
A 1978 ad with actress Meredith Baxter

*NEWSBITES

LES ÉCHOS/Worldcrunch

Why, as a woman, would I choose L'Oréal's Preference, "the most expensive hair dye in the world?" Isn't it obvious? "Because I'm worth it."

It's hard to imagine a more provocative – and narcissistic – slogan, and yet 40 years after its creation by an American agency, the catchphrase continues to define L'Oréal, the world leader in the cosmetics industry.

The slogan is so important for the company, in fact, that this week L'Oréal held a special anniversary celebration at the Ritz hotel in Paris. In attendance for the extravaganza were the company's famous muses, including supermodel Inès de La Fressange. They were joined by a small army of journalists – about 130 of them from 23 countries – who were allowed to interview the flower-laden stars only briefly. The scene had all the pomp and circumstance of the Cannes Film Festival.

The celebration was evidence of just how worth it the 40-year-old slogan has been for L'Oréal, which back in 1971 had no guarantees Preference hair dye would be a hit in the United States.

"Launching Preference wasn't obvious," says Cyril Chapuy, the global brand president of L'Oréal Paris. "It was a French hair dye that was more expensive than its local competitors. At the time, L'Oréal didn't exist in the American market, which was completely dominated by Clairol."

The woman behind the famous slogan was Ilon Spect, a 24-year-old woman who closely resembles the Peggy Olson character from the popular American television series Mad Men. It was her idea to have the original ad narrated not by a man – as was the custom at the time – but by a woman, talking about herself. It was a huge gamble, according to Chapuy. "We were dealing with women who were still subservient to the wishes of a male audience. At the time it was always a male voice who took up the discourse of the manufacturer."

The gamble, as we all know, paid off. By promoting female self-esteem, the ad campaign sent the message that "It is neither to please others nor to fit into the mold that I choose the best product for my hair," says Pascal Beucler, a French brand specialist. "It's to please me, to make me feel good. Basically, I have to choose the best product in itself, albeit more expensive, since it is the best for me."

Read the full story in French by Véronique Richebois

Photo – youtube

*Newbites are digest items, not direct translations

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