Everything about this 1946 Revlon Ultra Violet ad is amazing. First the color was really unusual and new at the time. It was a ruby red infused with a heavy dose of violet glimmer. They made an Ultra Violet trio of lipstick, nail polish and violet tinted face powder. The ad featured luscious Dorian Leigh, draped in a violet colored sheet and covered with bunches of violets. It was photographed by none other than Cecil Beaton. But that wasn’t only the beginning!
Time Magazine Monday Sept. 23, 1946 published this report on the Ultra Violet advertising launch: Remember, as you read this that this was in 1946!
ADVERTISING: Such a Color!
Monday Sept. 23, 1946
Violets, who’ll buy my violets? Take these cupid eyes of blue. Let them lead you for diversion On a little spring excursion From the old love to the new. On the peculiar workings of the advertising mind—as represented in New York’s McCann-Erickson agency—this saccharine ditty from the 1926 hit parade recently had a cataclysmic effect. For weeks the agency had been searching its accounts for a product that could be used as a tie-in to promote a lipstick and nail polish called “Ultra Violet,” put out by Manhattan’s Revlon Products Corp. It had also been worrying over the same sort of thing for Columbia Recording Corp.’s Dinah Shore. Then several of its geniuses remembered the old song. It was a natch. Lyric writers changed the first line to ‘Who will buy my ultra violets?” and substituted “fall” for “spring.” Dinah Shore recorded it. Admen hastily readied a $100,000 campaign for Dinah which mentioned Revlon and a $500,000 campaign for Revlon which mentioned Dinah. Copywriters rose to inspired heights: ‘Words can but weakly designate [the color] as ‘an unearthly violet fired with rubies! . . .’ Never before—perhaps never again—such a color!”
Within a fortnight the ultra violets will burst into full bloom on records, on the air, in ads everywhere.
For Revlon, which sells more lipstick and nail polish (other products: powder, rouge) than anyone else, all this was just new gilt on an old lily. When they founded Revlon in a $25-a-month office in 1932, Brothers Charlie, Martin and Joe Revlon decided to capitalize on names, beginning with their own. They had another cardinal principle: a woman’s most important points, unless she’s in a bathing suit, are her eyes, lips, hair and hands.
They started with nail enamels, soon did so well that they moved into their present smoke-grey quarters on Fifth Avenue, where they now promote two different shades a year (Charlie first decides on the name of the shade, then tries to get a color to fit it).
The Ultra Violet campaign is the costliest that Revlon has ever launched, may swell the company’s 1946 advertising bil to over $3 million. What Revlon expects in return, like all other figures in the industry, is a closely guarded secret. But largely on the sale of dollar lipsticks and 60¢ nail polishes which cost the makers about 10¢ to manufacture, Revlon this year will gross “well into the eight-figure bracket.”
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,777163,00.html#ixzz1bafRkblG