Launch of Betty Beauty is a PR Coup
Source: Ad Age, November 14, 2006
If you still think a brown betty is an apple tart, you may not want to read further.
That’s not the meaning ascribed by Betty Beauty, a New York startup
that is getting big PR play by marketing hair color for the nether
regions. Billed as "color for the hair down there," the company began
really building buzz this summer with a brief appearance on the "The
Tonight Show With Jay Leno" and mentions in magazines such as Vogue, W and People Style Watch.
Distribution so far is only in about 300 salons and beauty stores and
via the website Bettybeauty.com. But helped along with a publicity push
from LaForce & Stevens, New York, traffic to Bettybeauty.com, as
measured by Alexa.com, was on pace last week for 2 million visits
annually, running well ahead of Procter & Gamble Co.’s Clairol.com
and climbing toward that of L’Oreal’s website.
That’s despite the fact that founder Nancy
Jarecki’s first, and to date only, advertising expenditure was a $1,995
full-page ad in the official publication of the Cosmoprof beauty trade
show in Las Vegas in July. By the time she registered for the show, the
ad had already created enough buzz that several people around the table
were asking her about it. The ad also helped draw the "Leno" team,
which was taping a segment at the show. "It was just banter," she said,
along the lines of "It’s Betty — color for the hair down there."
But it was enough to draw thousands of visits from people who
did online searches even before her site was taking orders, Ms. Jarecki
said. Mentions in magazines and on drive-time radio followed this summer and fall.
The whole thing started with Ms. Jarecki’s visits to a hair salon in
Rome, where she was living three years ago. She noticed as women left
the salon, the colorist would discreetly slip them little brown bags.
"They would receive it with such delight, kiss kiss, and away they
would go," she said.
Curious, she asked the receptionist what the women were
getting in those little bags and was told, in Italian, "to match down
"I thought, ‘Of course, who wouldn’t want to be a true blonde?"’ Ms. Jarecki said.
And so began research and development. Ms.
Jarecki and a couple of female college students she hired called on
women in salons and waxing parlors. "It came back that a lot of people
would be interested in doing this," she said, but safety concerns
She also asked a gynecologist to track patients for a month
(anonymously, of course). He had never paid much attention before in 25
years of practice, but he told Ms. Jarecki that "not one person
matches." A few blondes who had tried did so poorly, he told her.
So she worked with a chemist and toxicologist to develop a
gentle, no-drip formulation and specialty application tools. Ms.
Jarecki then wanted a brand personality she describes as a cross
between Doris Day and porn star Traci Lords. The term "betty" came to
mind as a term guys in college had applied to attractive women.
"People have always wanted a name to call their betty," she said. "And
I’ve been able to describe this product without having to say all the
many types of ways to describe your betty."
And so, another euphemism for the female anatomy is
born. In five colors — Brown Betty, Blonde Betty, Auburn Betty, Black
Betty and Fun Betty (hot pink) — priced at $20 a box. Bettybeauty.com
also sells T-shirts that ask: "Is your betty ready?"
"Men can be betties, too," Ms. Jarecki said, as some are
buying Betty products. She knows because response rates for web
questionnaires have been high. They also show surprising interest from
women ages 60 to 85.
But sales in the $1 billion mass-hair-color category were up
only 0.7% in the 52 weeks ended Oct. 8, according to Information
Resources Inc., with the main gainers being Revlon’s value brand and
Combe’s Just for Men. Betty may be just what the market needs.