Brandtique: 'Dirty Dancing,' Maybelline
At a time when the Golden Age of Ad Jingles has long since passed and there are few memorable, reflexive marketing ditties in circulation, Maybelline's stands out both for its longevity and share of mind. The cosmetics brand has stayed with it since 1991. Some perspective: In 48 months, it will have run longer than the Army stuck with "Be All You Can Be."
No doubt on the marketing front--as Christy Turlington has gone and returned as a spokesmodel and the brand had been acquired by L'Oreal during the last decade and a half--the tagline/jingle is Maybelline New York's most valuable asset. So, when an "everyday woman" competing on a dance competition show offers up a rendition, it serves as publicity that's hard to buy. The message: Sure it's advertising, but consumers don't necessarily view it that way--or at least if they do, they like it--so much so, it can quickly move to their front burner.
Never mind that most consumers don't always remember the first part--it runs in full "Maybe She's Born With It, Maybe It's Maybelline"--which makes it somewhat oxymoronic. That becomes clear on the pilot episode of WE's "Dirty Dancing" (an attempt to morph the 1987 hit movie into the endless parade of reality/competition series) when Maybelline's celebrity makeup artist, Chuck Hezekiah, explains what the company feels is behind the tagline. He says Maybelline isn't in the makeover business, just taking a woman's natural beauty and allowing it to emerge, "hopefully supplying products that just enhance her a little bit."
But that's seemingly contradicted in the tagline which offers up the possibility that it may be natural beauty enhanced when a woman looks her best, but then again maybe it's the Maybelline powder and blush.
But Hezekiah's explanation comes on the Dec. 6 pilot--the home run comes a week later when the contestant Allyson Lockhart, a 28-year-old dance instructor from Washington state, offers up that spot-on jingle herself after being blown away by a makeover she's received courtesy of Maybelline. (On the pilot/premiere episode, Hezekiah also answers questions from the contestants about makeup artistry and Maybelline's strengths--his role was one of the top-ranked product placements of the week, according to measurement firm iTVX.)
Maybelline, along with sister brand Garnier, is a major sponsor of the show. Make that ubiquitous. At a time when brand integration agreements on some reality shows are probably longer than "War and Peace," this one may be longer. Maybelline's deal includes a presence in tune-in promotions, billboards during the show, exclusive sponsorship on the show's Web site and VOD stream, 30-second vignettes with makeup tips in the episodes and a presence in off-air marketing--Maybelline merchandise is even available at WE's new online store.
But the "face" of the integration is Maybelline's role in preparing the contestants for the competitions on each episode before they hit the stage to face off. That's when Allyson found hers so impressive she launched into the jingle.
The makeovers occur in a Maybelline New York studio with signage and product shots a constant presence. And they're shown during two-minute clips in the middle of the show, reaching a crescendo with "before and after" side-by-side photos.
But the "before and after" shots are indicative of why the ultimate benefit Maybelline may get from its presence on the show is debatable. At times, the show feels like an infomercial for the marketer (Lockhart's singing aside). That's due to its near-constant presence, including frequent testimonials from the makeup artists, Hezekiah and the contestants.
The show's production quality doesn't help. It feels as if WE opted for a shoestring budget which only enhances the infomercial vibe.
Then again, it can be argued that all advertising is addressable. Females who enjoy watching TV makeovers, and feel they can learn from makeup tips or may be Maybelline devotees, could very well believe that what could be interpreted as Maybelline marketing overkill actually kills (to borrow a term from comedians who feel they've just wowed a crowd).
But that's probably the minority opinion. Most viewers are likely to feel the Maybelline presence is too heavily applied.
Still, they aren't likely to forget the jingle.