From charming black-and-white illustrations to today’s striking full-color photography, eye-catching advertisements have been capturing the spirit of Avon for 130 years. To celebrate the milestone, Beauty for a Purpose combed through the archives and caught up with Lynn Catanese, chief curator at the Hagley Museum and Library, to select the most standout ads from the past century-plus—from 1930s Hollywood-inspired elegance to the electric colors of the 1980s to the refined, revolutionary skincare advancements of today.
Below, take a scroll down memory lane to relive 130 years of advertisements the Avon way.
1936: Create A More Radiant You
After officially changing its name from California Perfume Company to Avon, the company commemorated its 50th anniversary with “Create A More Radiant You,” one of many iconic campaigns created by the ad agency Monroe F. Dreher, Inc. Amid the difficulties and sacrifice of the Great Depression era, women often turned to a small purchase of cosmetics to lift their spirits — and the company’s sales rose.
1943: Heroines of America
Amid the trials of the World War II era, Avon’s “To the Heroines of America” campaigned debuted as a morale-booster depicting present-day women reflecting on brave female icons of the past. Noting “the brave color of her lips and cheeks,” the series encouraged women to stand strong like their predecessors.
1944: Avon Goes Hollywood
Hurray for Hollywood. In part an escape during the World War II era, glamorous movie stars and society women of the day graced Avon’s advertisements throughout the 1940s — but even the most recognizable faces touted reliance on the knowledgeable Avon Representative to make them look and feel beautiful.
1955: I Bring You Fragrance News
The “Ding Dong, Avon Calling” catchphrase –still fondly remembered – put the Avon Representative front and center as an expert. Always polished and professional, she heralded the latest in beauty in this time of post-war optimism and prosperity.
1961: Avon Calling for 75 Years
Upon Avon’s 75th anniversary, the Representative was the campaign’s icon. Her evolution, from the elegant attire of Lady Albee’s day to a stylish suit, advanced the idea of the independent and empowered woman during a decade when change and equal rights were at the forefront.
1961: Avon Overseas
From Canada and Europe to Latin America, the universal appeal of Avon’s broad global reach signaled quality product and beauty for all.
1966: Table Talk
What woman wouldn’t want a fragrance chosen especially for her? For its 80th birthday, Avon celebrated the pleasant and personal experience of a home visit from an attentive Representative, a steadfast presence in her handsome hat and suit.
1975: Oh, That Sweet Honesty Feeling
In the early 1970s, industries from beauty to music and magazines appealed to the growing teen market. Avon gained loyal fans in that age group with fresh and clean products like the cheerfully named Sweet Honesty.
1987: Look How Color Touches You
From shoulder pads to oversized costume jewelry to fabulously inflated hair, everything in the ‘80s was bigger and bolder, including makeup palettes. The future looked bright, and the optimism of the decade came alive with vibrant new cashmere tones for lips, eyes and cheeks.
1997: Wake Up to Younger Looking Skin
As beauty and fashion turned toward fresh-faced 1990s minimalism, Avon asserted its place as a leader in skincare with its Anew line.
2008: Going Even More Global
With popular products tailored to an expanding global audience, Avon increasingly became known throughout Latin America for its beauty innovations.
2010: More Than Skin Deep
With fans spanning across generations, beauty at every age became a hallmark of the Anew line. Actress Jacqueline Bisset modeled the benefits of breakthrough anti-aging technology: envy-worthy skin for women in their 50s and beyond.
2015: Celebrate Good Times
Since its early days in the late 19th century as the California Perfume Company, fragrance has been at the heart of Avon. Celebrity ambassadors aligned with the company’s mission of empowering women brought the party to Avon – including Fergie’s Outspoken fragrance line.
2015: Today’s Game Changers
The research and development behind new product Anew Power Serum is Avon’s present star. Also key in the 21st century: the all-important Avon.com website that connects consumers worldwide.
All images courtesy of Hagley Museum and Library.
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