This month, The Way We Were covers the years 1940–1950. Looking over some of our archival issues from that era, I noticed that our advertising was becoming more sophisticated. Wella ran an ad featuring a simple black-and-white headshot of a beautiful woman sporting the "Lacquer Wave," which was styled using Transparent Wella Lacquer. "If you're going out of business, don't read this!" read the copy. "It is frankly intended only for shops that stay in business and grow in prestige by using quality materials." Now there's a novel marketing approach. But Wella wasn't the only company to suggest that cheapskates would never make it in this business. An ad for Laco Shampoo told readers not to risk customer dollars with bargain shampoos. "Your patrons admire thrift," read the ad, "but not at their expense." The accompanying illustration featured a disgruntled client peering into a mirror and saying, "You call that a shampoo? Well, I don't." I think these companies were onto something. Here we are 60 years later and the companies that made it are the ones that had the highest standards then and now.
One of my favorite house ads appeared in the July 1941 issue and featured 23 "alert representatives" or "contact men and women responsible for the success of The American Hairdresser." I couldn't resist the urge to publish this photo because it's just so telling. Mrs. F. J. Novich (apparently married women didn't have their own identities in the '40s) looks like someone's grandmother. Lillian Hopper of California, on the other hand, sports a straw boater and a silk flower on her lapel. Perhaps she looked better precisely because she was a single working gal and not somebody's missus. I wonder what our readers will be saying about me in 100 years when they see this photo, which is new, incidentally. Anyone notice?
Our sales staff in 1941.
Allure, a magazine we published and asked subscribers to leave in their reception areas for their clients to browse.
Meanwhile, 50 years before Allure hit the newsstands, we launched a supplement called Allure that was included in every issue of The American Hairdresser. A compendium of the latest hairstyles, it was designed to be left in the reception area so clients could leaf through it and get ideas for new styles they could discuss with their hairdresser. This month, we're launching American Beauty, a magazine that will ride along with American Salon and target 30,000 subscribers who are interested in or carry makeup. If you'd like to receive American Beauty (the next issue comes out in October), drop me a line and we'll put you on the list.
The premier issue of American Beauty.
An ad for Transparent Wella Lacquer.
—Brett Vinovich, publisher, [email protected]