Yesterday L'Oréal Paris celebrated the 40th anniversary of its slogan "Because I'm Worth It" with a star-studded Parisian soiree, but some believe the phrase needs an update. When the line debuted in 1971 it played into the emerging feminist movement, but it's unclear if modern women still need to be convinced that they deserve to treat themselves to drug store beauty products.
In the 1970s, L'Oréal needed to talk consumers into buying their hair color even though it was more expensive than Clairol's products. L'Oréal aligned itself with women's empowerment with a phrase that told women their beauty decisions should focus on what makes them happy. Clairol was still using phrases from a pre-Peggy Olsen era that focused on how women were perceived by other people, such as "Does she…or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure" and "What would your husband do if suddenly you looked ten years younger?" Jane Fonda said at the L'Oréal event,
"In 1971, it was revolutionary. Women weren't used to feeling like we were worth it. Even though I was successful and famous, I did not feel like I was worth it ... All of us have been changed because we've been able to say those words thanks to L'Oréal."
Yet, the company has still tweaked the iconic line several times, and now there's concern that feminism has made the idea that it's okay for women to do something for themselves a foregone concusion. In the 1990s, the phrase was changed to "Because You're Worth It," and 18 months ago the company went with "Because We're Worth It," hoping that a pronoun shift would make the sound more inclusive.
While the idea of getting a confidence boost from beauty products seems pretty timeless, the Wall Street Journal reports that the slogan has proven problematic for the digital age. While tag lines could once be a snappy conclusion to a 30-second story conveyed in a commercial, many brand are limiting slogans to two or three words. Apparently consumers' attention spans are so limited that advertisers aren't sure we can hang on for that fourth word.
Cyril Chapuy, L'Oréal's chief executive, says he plans to keep the phrase for now because it's a universal message that plays well in countries where women's rights movements are just gaining traction. He explains, "The fact of saying beauty is all about self-esteem and not superficial is still very modern today." And if you can still convince women that a $10 box of hair dye is key to gaining more self-esteem, why switch catchphrases now?