“All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they aren’t.” As an icon of beauty, Marilyn Monroe claimed this to be a motto in her daily life where all she desired was to feel pretty. She spent her life promoting the importance of feeling beautiful, much so like herself, through visual texts. Visual texts are utilized to convey a particular message through an image. Visual texts, then and today, are one of the most effective forms of communicating and reaching out to an audience. Propaganda, statues, paintings, advertisements, photography and more employ a version of visual text to engage the public. Marilyn Monroe’s vintage 1950’s Lustre-Creme Shampoo advertisement was a very prominent visual text during the time. These images are geared to appeal to pathos – the reader’s emotions. Those emotions could be ones of sympathy, fear, anger, belonging, pride and vanity. The 1950’s Lustre-Creme Shampoo advertisement effectively appeals to belonging, pride and vanity through the use of an iconic celebrity, bold colors and two memorable slogans. Marilyn Monroe was the most symbolic American female actress, singer and model of her time whose legacy lives on today. She is remembered as the epitome of beauty, a sex symbol and icon of pop culture. Lustre-Creme Shampoo is the former brand of the Colgate-Palmolive company from the 1950’s that produced the most popular personal hair care products of the time. Lustre-Creme was known for their impressive array of products. During the peak of the company’s sales, Marilyn Monroe modeled in an advertisement for the company’s shampoo launch in 1953. The product and brand excelled in their marketing sales due to their distinct campaigning techniques.
Marilyn Monroe was purposely selected for the advertisement in order to appeal to the customer’s desire of belonging. Up until today she stands as an iconic sex symbol so the use of her image implies her prominence come from using this shampoo. If women buy the Lustre-Creme shampoo they can also achieve her status to become like her. They will fit into the society of the time and lure in men the same way Marilyn can. Having the most famous model on the advertisement appeals to a sense of pride and vanity, since Marilyn was a household name in the 50’s. Girls as young as in their teens to women as old as in their forties and fifties desired to be like her. The blonde actress embodied the societal standard of beauty who used this shampoo equating to the fact if any other woman wanted to become just as beautiful this shampoo would be their key. The appointing of Marilyn for this visual text successfully appeals to pathos.
Within the advertisement, the bold colors of red, white and blue are employed to attract buyers. There are multiple aspects to be interpreted from the creators specifically using these three colors. The color red symbolizes strength and power, blue stands for confidence and white represents innocence and purity which are all qualities that belong to Marilyn. This is an underlying meaning meant to push her attributes onto the customer which will give a perception of belonging. This is shampoo makes Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Monroe. No other colors were utilized to the point where even her nails are red and her eyes are an enhanced shade of blue to lure the customer in with the colors These colors also make the star admirable because are bright and bold but not intimidating. She is given a light hearted and
happy role through these colors. These are the “American” colors so this advertisement is targeted towards American women and ladies in the western world. This is the modernized way to be and feel like you belong in the era. Marilyn’s white-blonde hair is actually dyed and her original hair color is brunette. She uses this shampoo to maintain her gorgeous locks, which gives the impression, from the ad, that this is what men like. A subtle assertion of three colors targets the customer’s emotions of
belonging, pride and vanity.
While keeping the main focus of their advertisement a shampoo used by Marilyn Monroe, Lustre-Creme also manages to effectively maintain the appeal to pathos. Particularly the appeal to belonging, pride and vanity were the emphasized subsets of pathos in the visual text. By placing Marilyn Monroe rather than any ordinary woman traps the customer into purchasing the product. Red, white and blue symbolize innumerable meanings in American beauty and culture so their use attracts women from different aspects. The words in the two quotes are crafted together to intrigue the buyer and convince them to buy this product. Marilyn Monroe preaches of beauty and sells it through this ad while manipulating the audiences emotions.