The brand that created the term "makeup," that developed the first motion picture makeup in 1914, the French manicure in 1927 (called "Society Nail White"), lip gloss in 1930, concealer (called "erase") in 1954, clear mascara in 1980, will be discontinued next year in the U.S. by Proctor & Gamble. Which brand you ask? Well, none other than Max Factor. Yes, that's right...Max Factor! Now, I realize this news is old by now, but it's still worth discussing.
When I first read the news on the Wall Street Journal back in June, I just couldn't believe it! I think what bothers me about the decision is that the brand is still going to be sold in over 70 countries worldwide. This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the brand. What an announcement to make on the 100th birthday! P&G instead is going to focus its efforts on the Cover Girl brand. I find that very ironic considering Pat McGrath, named Global Creative Design Director for P&G in 2004, also worked on the Max Factor brand. So, what is working for Cover Girl that did not work for Max Factor?
Don't get me wrong, I realize Pat McGrath came in to re-design Max Factor's full line and she did a great job. In terms of colors and packaging it reminds me of a mix of classic MAC for packaging and Makeup For Ever for color. The problem was the decision to use Carmen Electra as a spokesmodel in 2006. Who is Carmen Electra's demographic? She starred in Baywatch for a couple of seasons, has been in Playboy a few times, has been in funny movies such as Scary Movie and Meet the Spartans, and been on the cover of Maxim several times. Hmmm, maybe a 23-year-old boy?
Obviously, P&G wanted to take a risk and be more edgy using someone like Carmen Electra, but clearly it did not work, because they switched her with Gisele Bundchen instead. I don't think she was the solution either. When I look at what P&G has been doing with the Cover Girl brand, they've been doing exceptionally well. Using spokes models like Drew Barrymore, Queen Latifah, and Ellen Degeneres has been brilliant. Yes, they are celebrities, but they symbolize everyday American women. I'm not saying this would have been the answer for Max Factor, what I am saying is that they really captured what the Cover Girl brand represents.
Max Factor represents the golden era of Hollywood and what it means to be glamorous. The original Max Factor had clients like Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis, and Jean Harlow, so which celebrities today represent that type of glamor? I was looking through one of my favorite beauty books, Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin, and there is a great section in the book where he transforms celebrities like Julia Roberts into Rita Hayworth, Gwyneth Paltrow as Kim Novak, and Nicole Kidman as Ann Margaret. All these celebrities are relevant today and represent what is glamorous. You could even have Scarlett Johansson transform into Marilyn Monroe. The point I'm trying to make is it would have been great to see advertising campaigns capture the essence of the Max Factor brand -- timeless, affordable glamor.
To think that next year when I go to visit the Max Factor site and the United States is not going to be listed among the other countries such as Italy, Japan, or the United Kingdom is going to be very sad. Especially considering the U.S. is the birthplace for the brand.