Tracey Norman's face graced the boxes of Clairol and top fashion magazines back in the 70's. But even has the stardom rose and success was around every corner, Norman hid a secret from the public. For Tracey Norman was a transgender model. Eventually the secret came out, which effectively ended Norman's career. That is until just recently. After thirty-five years, Clairol called and wanted Norman to come back. Now you might be tempted to read this as another case of advertising jumping on the pander bandwagon with the cause du jour, but in this case you shouldn't. After all those years, Clairol fixed what they (or at least the industry) broke. it's a beautifully inspiring story.
Unlike a lot of the current work around the transgender cause, which sort of shoe horns the group in an a sort of "look at us, we care, too," sort of way, what I love about this is that there is a strong brand message here for Clairol that actually ties back to the product. God forbid, right? I know we like to believe we don't make ads, but we do. You can call it storytelling or extended content, or a rich immersive experience or whatever the hell you want to but we sell shit for a living so we are making ads whether you want to admit it or not. And this particular ad does a nice job of balancing Norman's personal story with their product. Toward the end of the spot, it seemed to get a bit salesy and the film is about 45 seconds too long because no one wants to edit any more, but those are minor quibbles.
I dislike pandering because is shows just how cynical advertising can be when it comes to making a buck no matter what. And if you think ad agencies are all collectively and suddenly altruistic, because they mean it, let me remind you it was only a short few years ago we cared about getting water to the impoverished around the world, and I haven't seen many of those ads lately, have you? But the difference between pandering and authenticity is relevance. So good on Clairol for making it relevant to their product and righting some past wrongs for Norman as well.