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Review of True Colors, by Malcom Gladwell

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Shirley Polykoff and Ilon Specht's respective advertisement campaigns for Clairol and L'Oreal clearly demonstrates the added value and importance to a marketer of understanding the relationship between consumers and the products they buy. The personal and professional experiences of these women, along with "motivational research" conducted by people such as Herta Herzog, indicate that in order to successfully reach modern consumers, advertisers must understand the psychological elements of the relationship consumers form with their products.


The careers of Shirley Polykoff and Ilon Specht showcase the power and importance of utilizing more personal advertising campaigns aimed at reflecting and interpreting the psyche of consumers on a more intuitive level. Both of these women successfully tapped into and utilized the changing minds/attitudes of women during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s as a means to personally connect consumers to Clairol and L'Oreal products. By example it was Polykoff's personal experiences and acute understanding of the issues the average woman faced in the 1950s that led to the success of the Miss Clairol "Does she or doesn't she?" advertisement campaign. The campaign's empowering effect on women, which afforded them the right to discretely choose their own hair color, demonstrated a clear understanding of the societal issues and stigmas Clairol's consumers faced if and when they used these products. In the case of Ilon Specht, her success with the "Because you are worth it" advertisement campaign with L'Oreal was born out of her personal experience as a woman in a male dominated advertisement industry and her acute awareness of the social revolution and new spirit of feminism born in the 1960s and 70s. Specht's campaign for L'Oreal played to the strong desires of women to have a choice, a voice, and a more prominent role in society. Similar to that of Polykoff's, the Specht's L'Oreal campaign empowered women by drawing on the physiological needs of women, which cared deeply about their self-confidence, the right to choose, and the ability to display their own personal style.

If I owned this brand I would:

If presented with the opportunity to own this brand - either L'Oreal or Clairol - I would take steps to further differentiate their hair dye products by dedicating new resources to further understand the physiological elements of the relationship between consumers and the product itself. As stated by Gladwell, the fact that the Clairol and L'Oreal campaigns have seemingly converged with very little difference between market share indicate to me that their advertising campaigns could benefit by better incorporating the psychological needs



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