The Body Shop International PLC

Author:Patrick Hutchins
Pages:191-194
 
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Watersmead

Littlehampton

West Sussex, BN17 6LS

United Kingdom

Telephone: 44 1903 731500

Fax: 44 1903 726250

E-mail: info@bodyshop.co.uk

Web site: www.the-body-shop.com

RUBY CAMPAIGN
OVERVIEW

In 1976, when the cosmetics industry was making exaggerated claims about scientific advancements in skin care, Anita Roddick opened a store, The Body Shop, in a seaside town on the southern coast of England. Her product line, based on natural ingredients and age-old beauty secrets from Polynesia and the Amazon rainforest, was a vast departure from the patented laboratory-created, animal-tested products that promised to stop the aging process, eradicate dark circles under the eyes, and otherwise correct a woman's flaws. The products were plainly packaged, and they were not tested on animals and not promoted through extravagant advertising campaigns. In 1988 Roddick opened her first store in the United States, and by that time—through various social initiatives such as the "Stop the Burn" campaign to save the Brazilian rainforest (the source of many of the company's natural ingredients) and strong support of employee volunteerism—The Body Shop name had become synonymous with social activism and global preservation worldwide. The company had also become immensely profitable.

By the mid-1990s, however, The Body Shop faced growing competition, forcing it to begin its first major advertising initiative, the most prominent part of which was the "Ruby" campaign. The campaign was personified by Ruby, a doll with Rubenesque proportions who was perched on an antique couch and who looked quite pleased with herself and her plump frame. Randy Williamson, a spokesperson for The Body Shop, said, "Ruby is the fruit of our long-established practice of challenging the way the cosmetic industry talks to women. The Ruby campaign is designed to promote the idea that The Body Shop creates products designed to enhance features, moisturize, cleanse, and polish, not to correct 'flaws.' The Body Shop philosophy is that there is real beauty in everyone. We are not claiming that our products perform miracles."

The Ruby doll, a computer-generated image, appeared on posters, stickers, and T-shirts and in magazine ads. The campaign was launched in the United States in September 1997 following its successful introduction in several other countries.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

The Body Shop was founded in 1976 in Brighton, England. From her original shop, which offered a line of 25 different lotions, creams, and oils, Roddick became the first successful marketer of body care products that combined natural ingredients with ecologically-benign manufacturing processes. Her company's refusal to test products on animals, along with an insistence on

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nonexploitative labor practices among suppliers around the world, appealed especially to upscale, mainly middle-class women, who were and have continued to be the company's primary market.

Part of the secret of The Body Shop's early success was that it had created a market niche for itself. The company was not directly competing against the traditional cosmetics companies, which marketed their products as fashion accessories designed to cover up flaws and make women look more like the fashion models who appeared in their lavish ads. Instead, The Body Shop offered a line of products that promised benefits other than appearance—healthier skin, for instance—rather than simply a better-looking complexion.

During the 1980s, when The Body Shop dominated the niche it had created, it avoided the kinds of traditional marketing used by the more fashion-driven cosmetics companies. This "antimarketing" strategy defied conventional wisdom in several important ways: the company had no advertising agency, it did not hire fashion photographers to photograph beautiful women wearing its products, and it did not advertise in the usual women's magazines. Instead, it relied on in-store promotions, including posters and educational materials that targeted its own customers, who then passed the word to their friends. This word-of-mouth approach, often regarded as the most effective form of marketing thanks to its built-in credibility factor, was augmented by a huge amount of favorable publicity generated largely by Roddick...

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