Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How L’Oreal Recruits Brand Ambassadors While Doing Social Good

Every year, L’Oreal recognizes a new set of ‘Women of Worth’ and awards their charities $5,000 each, with an additional $5,000 donation made in each of their names to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. One of these women is selected as the National Woman of Worth Honoree and her charity receives a whopping $25,000! As you can imagine, L’Oreal also showers these women and their charities with lots of media attention and hosts a large gala event in their honor at the end of each year.

In L’Oreal’s own words:

More than 30 years ago, L'Oréal coined the phrase "Because I'm Worth It" to celebrate a woman's worth and build her self-esteem. In 1997, as an extension of this sentiment, L'Oréal Paris proudly partnered with The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) to raise money and awareness in the fight against ovarian cancer.

In 2006 our signature phrase and OCRF partnership came to life in a new way. L'Oréal established Women Of Worth - a grassroots program and award that honors women who serve others in their communities.

Who is a Woman Of Worth? She's an inspiring volunteer, an outstanding achiever, and a beautiful person who's making a difference in her community. She sees a need around her and doesn’t hesitate to get involved. Whether she's empowering women, mentoring children, helping survivors to heal or motivating troops overseas, her efforts are tireless. Her spirit is unbreakable.

From a socially responsible perspective, L’Oreal is doing a great job by supporting amazing female change-makers and their charities. There’s no doubt that a program like this makes L’Oreal look and feel good, as it should. But, the ‘good’ stuff doesn’t just stop there. By putting the spotlight on these remarkable women of worth, L’Oreal is building an army of brand ambassadors.

Imagine this:

At the age of 15, you were the victim of acquaintance rape. It took you four years to build the courage to speak up about what happened to you. Right before your eyes, the website you built to tell your story has evolved into an organization that boasts of being the largest international online sexual abuse survivor community, serving more than 20,000 survivors worldwide. (Learn more about 2009 National Woman of Worth Honoree, Shannon Lambert here)

Naturally, you feel blessed to have the opportunity to help thousands of women around the world heal, but now you’ve also been recognized for your work by a very prominent beauty brand whose core consumers are women like you. Once you complete your interviews, attend the big awards gala, and accept the $25,000 check on behalf of your charity, will your relationship with that company end there?

Not a chance.

You’ve just been transformed into a brand ambassador of that company for life. All of the women in your network will be reading that press release announcing your name as the recipient of this prestigious award. And, because of the impact you and your organization have had on all of these women, they will have newfound appreciation for the company that honored you.

What does this mean for L’Oreal? Chances are that the next time a member of a Woman of Worth’s organization is watching a L’Oreal ad on TV or sees one in her favorite women's magazine, she’ll probably smile without noticing and pay closer attention than before, store the name of that new product in her memory, and possibly pick it up the next time she's at the drugstore. Maybe she'll even recommend it to friends. Moreover, L'Oreal will have boosted its chances of becoming her beauty brand of choice, if it wasn't already. Why? Because she believes that L'Oreal is a socially responsible company that truly values women. After all, it honored one of her favorite women and made a donation to a charity she holds very close to her heart. All in all, the brand just evokes a feeling of goodness in her, so when given a choice between L'Oreal beauty products and those of its competitors, why in the world would she buy anything else?

Take a look at the list of 2009 ‘Women of Worth.’ These are impressive women who have each made a very profound impact in their communities. If there’s anyone a beauty brand like L’Oreal would want as an ‘everyday’ brand’s definitely one of these power house women. Smart thinking, right?

P.S. You don’t need to be a multimillion dollar enterprise to build an effective base of brand ambassadors. Look to companies like L’Oreal for inspiration and, you too, can build socially responsible programs that also serve as breeding grounds for brand ambassadors. Other companies doing this successfully are Pepsi with the Pepsi Refresh project and Bank of America with the Neighborhood Excellence Initiative. If you know other terrific examples, please share them with us!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Steve Jobs and the iPhone 4 Fiasco: Lessons learned from their mistakes

Steve Jobs is a living, breathing conduit of the Apple brand. So, when he showed up in his relaxed fit jeans and black turtleneck shirt at the press conference held by Apple to address the recent reviews of the iPhone 4, I wasn’t surprised one bit. After all, simple, cool and brilliant are the words we often use to describe both Steve Jobs and the Apple brand with which he has become synonymous.

While reading transcripts of the press conference (courtesy of, though, I was surprised to read some of the comments he made during the Q&A session. It seemed evident that Steve was not at all happy about the unfavorable reviews his latest product was receiving and that he was taking all of the negative PR around the iPhone 4 very much to heart. For a man who normally exudes a casual charm, I found this behavior quite uncharacteristic of him and a bit unsettling given that he is easily Apple's biggest brand ambassador.

One of his most surprising comments to me during that press conference was as follows: “I guess it's just human nature when some organization gets successful, there's someone who wants to tear it down…Would you rather we are Korean companies rather than American companies? Do you not like that we're innovating here in America?”

YIKES. How in the world did a discussion on antenna issues caused by the "death grip" turn into a frustrated Steve Jobs asking his audience whether it is unhappy that innovation is happening in the United States. Those sounded like the words of a bitter and disgruntled man, but were actively representing the thoughts and opinions of one of the most well-reputed brands in the world.

That day, Steve Jobs was representing his entire staff, all of his shareholders, his consumers, the product in question, every other product his company has ever produced and the Apple brand as a whole. So, you'd think he'd choose his words more carefully and better control his temperament. Alas, he's only human...

As CEO of a company called Glamour Gone Good, which works with glamour industry professionals to raise funds for women’s and girls’ charities, why in the world should I care about any of this, right? Turns out, I do and you probably should, too.

Over the past nine months, I’ve spent a great deal of time thoughtfully and strategically building the Glamour Gone Good brand and I look up to Steve Jobs, whom I've proudly watched build a beautiful empire and beloved brand. Sadly, I was disappointed by him on Friday and felt that he strayed too far from the Apple brand he was representing that day. So, I sought to find some lessons in his mistakes and have pulled three that I’m going to share with you. I hope that you’ll get something out of this, too.


1. Always channel the spirit of your brand: Whether you're the Chairman of your company or the receptionist, you represent your company's brand. Your choice of wardrobe, vocabulary, body language - everything others experience from you - impacts your company's brand. (Have you ever held a grudge against a brand because of a lousy experience with a rude customer service rep? I'm guessing you have.) So, if you want to forge ahead in your career, be sure to have a crystal-clear understanding of your company's brand and embrace it because you're an extension of it. Once you do, never waver from it. If you do, even for a second when you think no one is looking, you run the risk of breaking the trust of a loyal consumer or client, which could end up having a ripple effect far greater than what you may have imagined.

2. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer: We hear this saying all the time, but do we apply this advice to our careers? Think about your relationship with your "enemies"? These could be other employees at your company on the same career track or representatives of competing brands. They could even be members of third parties reviewing your work or that of your company at any given time. Do you know who these people are? Do they like you? Find out who these people are and keep tabs on them. Even if you don't like them, they don't have to know it. In fact, they shouldn't. Show your enemies the same respect you would show your greatest allies and they'll find less reasons and search for fewer opportunities to tear you down.

3. Be open to criticisms: Steve Jobs said it himself: No one is perfect. Nor is any company. In fact, we've seen many great ones fall in front of our eyes in the last couple of years. So, be open to criticism. Pull from it the wisdom you can and discard the remains because even if the source of the critiques may not have your best interest at heart, that very source may end up pushing you in the right direction faster even if you were already headed that way. Plus, criticism keeps us humble and on our toes, which can only help us improve our performance. So, don't panic when some comes your way. Take it as a compliment that you're being noticed.

Going back to Steve Jobs and the iPhone 4 press conference, I sincerely hope he re-thinks his strategy the next time he and his company face some form of criticism from the public. In this instance, even if his overt frustration with the media does not end up impacting sales of the iPhone 4, some damage has been done and we're not going to forget this fiasco any time soon. The next time a product comes out, his loyal customers may skip the pre-order period and wait for product reviews. His not-so-loyal customers may become more skeptical about the newest and shiniest gadgets his company releases and switch their loyalty to his competitors. And, the media outlets under fire during his most recent press conference may use even sharper words to point out any potential flaws with new products in the future.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mobilizing Glamour Industry Professionals for Social Good

During my tenure as Executive Director of Fran Drescher’s women’s cancer charity, Cancer Schmancer, I had the opportunity to collaborate with some terrific fashion and beauty brands on varying forms of cause marketing campaigns, from one-day in-store promotions to seasonal percentage-of-proceeds promotions to heavily branded annual charity events.

Some of my favorite programs included:

Bloomingdale’s “Dress Well, Be Well” nationwide promotion: On April 5, 2008, Bloomingdale’s dress department held a national promotion called “Dress Well, Be Well” to drive foot traffic to its stores and push dress sales during prom season. On that day, Bloomingdale’s committed to donating 10% of proceeds from nationwide dress sales to Cancer Schmancer, raising over $50,000 for the organization. The promotion received excellent press coverage, especially in the Los Angeles area, where Fran Drescher personally made an appearance at a Bloomingdale’s location to meet and greet customers and distribute Cancer Schmancer DVDs that educate women on the early warning signs of female cancers.

Paul Mitchell Limited Edition Flat Iron promotion: During Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 2009, Paul Mitchell heavily promoted its limited edition Pink Express Ion Smooth 1.25 flat iron, while simultaneously raising awareness for Cancer Schmancer and its mission. As part of the promotion, Cancer Schmancer was guaranteed a donation of $25,000 and its logo was placed prominently on the product packaging. To help raise awareness and drive sales for the product, Fran Drescher participated in a product photo shoot, televised interviews, and permitted use of her name in all related press releases.

EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women: In 2007 and 2009, Cancer Schmancer was selected as a beneficiary of the EIF Revlon Run/Walk for Women, which is a charity run/walk hosted in New York City and Los Angeles every May to raise funds for women’s cancer research, prevention, education, and support service programs. As a beneficiary of the event, Cancer Schmancer organized teams and volunteers in both cities, heavily promoted the events to its membership and contributed towards EIF’s overall fundraising goal. Fran Drescher also attended each event as a VIP guest, walking the red carpet and participating in the run/walk with her friends and family.

So, you’re probably thinking, “WOW! The fashion and beauty industries sure do a whole lot to give back to their communities.” You’re absolutely right. These guys rock. The best part is that it’s a win-win for everyone. The charity walks away with cold hard cash it desperately needs plus lots of free media opportunities. The sponsoring company boosts its brand reputation and sales (either directly or indirectly) while also garnering all kinds of media attention for its cause marketing efforts (if executed well, of course).

However. Yes, there’s a pretty loud however coming. However, there’s still SO much more that can and should be done. What about the makeup artists behind the beauty counters at all Bloomingdale’s locations? What about the hair stylists at all Paul Mitchell salons? And, lets not forget the countless hair stylists, makeup artists, manicurists, and other fashion and beauty professionals all over the country! What exactly is their role in these cause marketing campaigns? Are they a wasted resource waiting to be tapped?

I’d have to say yes. In fact, I’m shouting it from the rooftops.

Almost all of these fabulous companies have realized that partnering with and supporting charities supports their bottom line. So, they’ve got talented marketing and PR teams developing campaigns for them. But, in all too many instances, they’re forgetting about their front liners - the ones interacting with their consumers and clients on a daily basis - the glamour industry professionals themselves.

Why not let these guys and gals be part of the fun? And, boost their sense of pride in their work? An easy way for them to do just that is through Glamour Gone Good. My organization recruits individual glamour industry professionals, as well salons, spas, fashion and beauty brands to raise funds for women’s and girls’ charities. But, it's certainly not the only way to activate these glamour-makers.

The next time Bloomingdale’s hosts a cause marketing promotion, I’d love to see its entire sales team trained with talking points about the sponsored charity, the actual promotion and how the funds raised will be put to use. Instead of reading about the dress promo in an ad in my local paper, I'd love to have a sales person influence me into buying a second dress that day to help support their charity. Who knows, maybe that same conversation would even get me calling my mom to ask if she's scheduled her next mammogram yet, all while I'm browsing for a dress I hadn't originally planned to purchase.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Story Behind Glamour Gone Good

Did you know: US charitable contributions slumped 3.6% in 2009 as the recession crimped gift giving, according to an annual survey released in June 2010 that showed the steepest decline since 1974. The survey by Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University showed charitable contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations fell to $303.75 billion in 2009, from $315.08 billion in 2008. Moreover, foundation grants saw a sharp 8.9% decline to $38.44 billion.


I re-located to Boston from New York City last summer for my husband's job, in the midst of this awful recession. Unemployment rates were rising by the day and here I was in a new city with no contacts and no job, looking for new opportunities (to no avail), at which point I began contemplating launching a foundation that would award grants to deserving organizations (something I've been dreaming about doing for years). The only problem was that I'm not exactly independently wealthy. So, what was I to do?

During a trip to my new hair salon in Boston that August, I began chatting with my new hair stylist about the life I left behind in NYC and what lied ahead for me in Boston. In this new city, where I barely knew anyone, I had so many questions...and I found myself asking all of them to her! With my hair at her mercy, I found myself letting my guard down pretty quickly and developing an intimate relationship with a woman I'd barely met 30 minutes ago. When I got home, I felt so excited to have made a new friend and to have learned so much about this city so strange to me. That's when I realized that hair stylists, like manicurists, makeup artists and even masseuses, have this gift - or special power - that allows them to break down barriers with total strangers. Before I knew it, I started wondering: Is there a way to leverage these special powers for social good???


Shortly after our fateful meeting, the pieces of this puzzle starting falling together for me. After much thought and discussion with numerous friends and colleagues, I discovered there's definitely a way to help women’s and girls’ organizations raise funds during the recession by activating these glamour industry professionals and the small businesses that women swear by. There's no question that when a woman enters a salon or spa, she is there to spend money to look and feel good about herself and at the end of the experience, she leaves feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and confident about herself. So, what better time to ask that woman to make a contribution to help other women and girls feel good about themselves? The wallet is already open, the mind is already relaxed, and the woman is ready to take on the world!

With that in mind, the concept of Glamour Gone Good was born. I decided that by recruiting salons, spas and makeup artists to raise funds for charity by hosting in-house events and executing creative cause marketing campaigns, we could raise some serious cash for women’s and girls’ organizations each year.

We're a start-up like any other, building our brand and our network of supporters. Our goal is to have 1,000 glamour-makers raising funds for us by the end of 2011!!! We'll select three different charities each year. This year, the three organizations that stand to benefit from Glamour Gone Good are Dress for Success Worldwide, Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, and Sister to Sister.

Dress for Success Worldwide is an international not-for-profit organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. Since starting operations in 1997, Dress for Success has expanded to more than 100 cities in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, the UK and the West Indies. To date, Dress for Success has helped more than 500,000 women work towards self-sufficiency.

Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS) serves girls and young women who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. GEMS was founded in 1999 by Rachel Lloyd, a young woman who had been sexually exploited as a teenager. GEMS helps young women and girls, ages 12-21, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and to develop to their full potential.

Sister to Sister: The Women's Heart Health Foundation is dedicated to preventing heart disease in women. It accomplishes this by increasing awareness that heart disease is the number one killer of women, offering free cardiac screenings for early detection and treatment, and by educating that healthy lifestyle changes can reduce heart disease risk dramatically.

If you wish to support us, stop by!