Tuesday, January 26, 2010

When Did “Haircolor” Become One Word? And Why It’s Not a Bad Idea.

While I was keeping my own sparse hair under surveillance, L’Oreal Paris® turned “haircolor” into a singleton. I hadn’t noticed before. Don’t know when it happened. For some reason I was captured by its appearance in one of those beauty-related ads in Real Simple. There’s Andie MacDowell with a box of the color crème in question, saying, “It’s the haircolor that makes my hair look and feel younger.”  One word.

Nifty – because when I Google “haircolor” (like this, in quotes), L’Oreal Paris appears top-of-page. Without the quotation marks, Clairol is number one and L’Oreal is number two. When I Google hair color as two words, Clairol is tops. So by changing the usage, it’s possible for a company like L’Oreal to teach people a different term for a conventional product. I’m certain there are other executions of this idea. For quite a while, there were sunglasses and Foster Grants. But that’s a brand rather than a descriptor.

“Haircolor” could be a cultural campaign. Unfortunately, I don’t know if it’s a marketing/creative decision by the company or an oversight. On its many and broad-ranging websites, L’Oreal itself is inconsistent, often not using the word or words at all.

Who knew there were so many euphemisms? Color Crème. Color Formula. Gray Coverage. Revitalizer.

L’Oreal Paris is the largest part of L’Oréal and positioned as a mass-market premium brand. Only when I started reviewing its websites did I realize that haircolor (noun usage) was so huge. For a guy who can only use Grecian Formula 44 to dye his eyebrows, I can excuse my inattention.

As a marketing and advertising professional, though, I will have to force myself to look at MacDowell and all the other celebrities who are using haircolor – or whatever.

4 comments:

Jack said...

This is a brilliant blog. I almost don't want other marketers to realize how strategically intelligent, relevant and applicable it is. So, I think I shut up now.

Great work, though. I may, ah, borrow it once or twice. Tomorrow.

Jack Goldenberg
World's Best UnderEmployed Copywriter

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thank you, Jack - coming from you, that's quite a compliment. Best for mid-week...

Kay Krenek said...

There are several that I would like to see officially merge: web site, fund raising come to mind...

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Kay, I think AP is still using "web site" as two words but the pressure is definitely on to mash 'em together. It looks like "fundraising" has been achieved, however:

http://commonsensej.blogspot.com/2005/03/ap-style-fundraiser-ditch-hyphen-best.html