You might not have thought of collecting by color, but pink is a fascinating color to collect.
When you think of vintage pink items, you likely have images of spaghetti poodle figurines and pink refrigerators. I’ll admit there are a lot of those. (And the kitchen appliances are back in style, hep cats and kittens!) But did you know that pink was a huge marketing gimmick?
Back in the day, when women were as foreign a target market as nomadic tribes in Africa, companies thought the best way to get the little ladies interested in their products was to make them pink.
Make the products pink, that is; though, as we’ll see, our cheeks sure turn rosy with embarrassment when we look at some of these products and ad campaigns now.
What should you get your mom on Mother’s Day? Why a pink vacuum, of course!
What mom doesn’t want to be reminded she’s an unpaid servant picking up after the lazy men-folk in her life?
Even if she’s feeling blue, the pretty pink will lift her mood. (Vacuums may suck, but make them pink and they’re the ultimate pick-up!)
Should your mom not be fooled by the happy housewife routine, you can always drug her — with pretty pink drugs.
First the legal ‘self-medicating’ kind. Like pink cigarettes and pink booze.
If they don’t work, those pretty pink pills should help.
There were even pink cars. No, not just the pink Cadillacs…
In 1955, the Chrysler Corporation’s Dodge division made Dodge La Femme. Partly based on the showroom observation that women’s opinions on car color was part of the decision making process for couples buying an automobile, and partly based on the fact that a second car was often need for life in the suburbs, the La Femme was an attempt to gain a foothold in the women’s automobile market.
While some folks note that the car was an honest attempt to acknowledge “female independence and prosperity”, I’d like to point out the sales line, “By Special Appointment to Her Majesty… the American Woman.” Comparing the American Woman to a powerless figurehead sure doesn’t sound like anything but patronizing to me.
I also find the “stylish” and “stunning” matching rain cape, umbrella, boots and shoulder bag a bit too-too much. Sure, a dame had to look good, but dressing to match your car? Images of large pink cars in every suburban driveway are kitschy enough, but little pink women all dressed alike too? Oh, and we think soccer moms are funny!
Ah well, the Dodge La Femme only lasted two years (1955 – 1956)… How horrible could it have been? (Until 1957, when you and your pink get-up were so last year. One must keep up with the Joneses!)
Flash forward to 1959. Now Chrysler’s Imperial Division produces not only another automobile targeting women, but an ad campaign ready to drive home the point: Women are so vain, they probably think this ad is about them.
The Imperial put it’s best face forward with an ad campaign and product sponsorship by Elizabeth Arden (the cosmetic company) and Ben Zuckerman (a ladies’ clothes company). The ad campaigns were large lush affairs run in magazines such as Vogue, and focused on the fancy, fashionable features women (surely) craved.
Vintage marketing to women, it’s enough to make you blush. No Arden cosmetics required.
One such two-page ad was called The New Look of Beauty, and it featured a special, exclusive cosmetic case designed by Elizabeth Arden. Called the Imperial Travel Case, this, like the car itself, was no small compact.
And it made news at the time too, according to an article published at the time of the Imperial promotion:
As part of the New Look of Beauty promotion, the Division is sending each Imperial dealer, free of charge, an Imperial Cosmetic Case designed by Elizabeth Arden. The Case fits the Imperial glove compartment and the Imperial eagle appears in gold on the cover. The Case retails for approximately $25. Because of a special arrangement with Elizabeth Arden, only authorized dealers can order additional Cases. Orders will be filled at $5 each, which is below actual cost. In a letter to Imperial dealers informing them of the promotion, J. C. Cowhey, Division Director of advertising and sales promotion said “This Elizabeth Arden cosmetic case is NOT intended as an inducement to buy, or a premium, nor is it offered as a discount. Obviously, the Imperial prospect would not be influenced by such an item in buying the car, but he might be delightfully impressed with the kit after he is an Imperial owner”.
(Who is this ‘he’ Cowhey refers to? Where is this make-up wearing man of 1959? Perhaps this car was cross-promoted to cross-dressers, yet another showroom observation the marketing team put to immediate use.)
When all is said and done, I must admit I’d love to own these cars. (One of each, please; it is my birthday today.) Because nothing says, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” like a woman driving a vintage pink automobile, with matching attire (hey, ‘matching a tire’ that’s a pun!). Unless she’s also smoking a pink cigarette, leaving pink lipstick prints on the end, and driving to a friend’s house for pink cocktails. It’s good to be The Queen, Her Majesty, The American Woman.