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


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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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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