BLACKGLAMA | “What Becomes A Legend Most?”

In a world of quick sound bites, fast everything for that matter, very few catchphrases stick and last the trials of time. When it comes to good taglines, the great thinkers of Madison Avenue advertising agencies do occasionally come up with gems that defy time and still find ways to resonate. From the quirky Mickey Mouse or Oscar Mayer jingles to the brilliant consumer slogans of L’Oréal and Blackglama, when something great hits popular culture, you know it!

Martha Graham, Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn, 1976

Marlene Dietrich, 1969

Maria Callas, 1970

Linda Evangelista, 2001

Julie Andrews, 1983

Joan Crawford, 1969

Janet Jackson, 2010

Don’t believe us? Ask a friend about Blackglama. Everyone knows the name and associates it with the finest quality mink available. Why? Because American Legend earned Blackglama’s iconic status through one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history, one that effectively harnessed star power to deliver a clear and focused message about the quality and desirability of their product. Each year consumers waited with great anticipation to learn of the new Blackglama Legend, and the combination of extraordinary star power and breathtakingly beautiful photography year after year never disappointed. In fact, the black and white prints of the ad campaign have become collectibles and the case study of this campaign still remains in many advertising text books.

Sophia Loren, 1982

Shirley McClaine, 1977

Ray Charles, 1990

Raquel Welch, 1975

Myrna Loy, 1980

Maggie Smith, 1980

One thing that throws people off is why the G-L-A-M-A in Blackglama, and not GLAMOUR? As it turns out, the GLMA stands for Great Lakes Mink Association. Oops, who knew? Well, these ranchers were wise, in the late 1960s, to approach Jane Trahey (a well respected copywriter) to help them package their message. The late 60s were a minefield of social changes and traditional ‘luxury-dressing’ was tested by the Youthquake!

Brigitte Bardot, 1970

Cher, 1986

Catherine Deneuve, 1988

Faye Dunaway, 1978

Lana Turner, 1980

Aileen Mehle (a.k.a. Suzy Knickerbocker), Bill King, 1977

Bette Davis, 1968

Nineteen-sixty-eight marked the first Blackglama campaign, which soon snowballed into a “Who’s Who” in popular culture. There was no shortage of celebrities willing to link their fortunes and image to one of the finest luxury brands on the market. And so, over the lifetime of the campaign, the  ads have featured  an international roaster of “Legends” from every corner of the entertainment world including Oscar winning actors, Broadway veterans, Motown crooners, opera divas and ballet superstars, and even our favorite supermodels. All were men and women of talent, achievement and renown.

Lauren Bacall, 1968

Rita Hayworth, 1970

Diana Vreeland, 1977

Gisele Bünchen, 2002

The Blackglama advertising campaign’s influence is so notable that Advertising Age placed it at 73 out of 100 on its list of the most influential 20th century advertising campaigns. In 1985, Andy Warhol even appropriated the Judy Garland Blackglama ad for a silkscreen series.

Contact sheet of Judy Garland shots for Blackglama, by Richard Avedon

Judy Garland / “What Becomes a Legend Most?”, by Andy Warhol, 1985

Judy Garland, 1968

Naomi Campbell, 2007

“What Becomes a Legend Most: The Blackglama Story” by Peter rogers

For 2012-2013, fascination with the Blackglama “Legend” campaign continues as Janet Jackson retains the Legend crown in a series of some of the most extraordinarily beautiful images we’ve ever seen! Congratulations American Legend!