But Mom, It’s All Natural!!! Walmart’s New Tween Makeup Line

Walmart is releasing a new line of make-up targeting tween girls. It’s been touted on blogs and news channels as “eco-friendly” and the company reports it contains natural ingredients and is free of phthalates and parabens.

The issue: The media is going crazy over whether tweens, aged 8-12, should be encouraged to wear make-up teaching girls that beauty is on the outside, not the inside; crushing confidence, focusing on surface appearances, etc…we’ve heard it all before.

The Walmart solution: Provide kids with a (as we like to call it) “green-ish” cover to ease parents minds and also for parents to use as their own defense against other judging, skeptical parents. “My daughter wanted to wear make-up so I let her have the good-for-you stuff.”

Brilliant—can’t wait to see how it sells.

What do you think: Should tweens wear make-up, even if it’s ‘eco-friendly’?

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Women Are Responsible For This Year’s Hottest Brands.

Adage’s 2010 Hottest Brands list is out and from the brand names on the list, it just goes to show the power of the female consumer.

With moms 32% more likely to use smart phones than the national average, it’s no wonder the Droid is at the top of the list followed by Glee (we’re quite the gleeks over here at Just Ask a Woman) and our personal favorite, Groupon

We know the power of the female consumer, which is why we’re not surprised to see Old Spice on the list.  We fell in love with the new campaign targeting the female influencers in men’s lives.

We are also glad to see Dawn dish soap made the list.  Procter & Gamble has done well combining innovation, value messaging  and saving the environment – from recession to oil spills, this brand knows how to make women feel good and clean.

U by Kotex has done a fantastic job getting young women to feel more comfortable in what we like to call, the “pink ghetto” ( That aisle in the supermarket or drugstore that we quickly walk down or avoid altogether.)  We especially loved that the campaign poked fun at typical advertising in this category.  Breaking the cycle can be difficult for many brands. Companies can learn from their brave move.

And while there are quite a number of other brands that made the list that can link their success to women, Reebok’s EasyTone also has Katrin Ley, Head of Brand Strategy, Business Development and Women’s Sport Business, to thank for the growing toning category. They have sold 5 million pairs of EasyTone in the U.S.

And while My Pillow Pets and Silly Bandz have a much younger audience, we know who is laying out the money for these as well.

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The Rocky Road to Redemption

I decided to road test and redeem my retailer birthday freebies noted in yesterday’s blog. First up, Sephora. Their Beauty Insider program has received our kudos in the past and this was no exception. As always, I couldn’t make it to the register without picking up two new fall lipsticks, a lip plumper and a new mascara (because of course, I don’t have any of those!)

At checkout, I presented my birthday gift card and the nicest associate smiled out, “Happy Birthday!” three different times. And he offered me another free gift for my accumulated points, but I decided to hold out for a better choice next time. Great retail execution of a marketing concept.

Next stop, the Diane Von Furstenberg boutique for a party dress. I tried on at least seven with a very helpful associate who observed my usual disparaging mirror chants, “Do I look fat in this?” “Is this too young for me? “ . Then I presented their very generous $50 credit birthday offer toward a pretty red dress. But my associate friend offered no birthday woot at all. If I were a salesperson (well, I am, sort of…), I would have put two and two together (appearance anxiety and a birthday) and said, “Happy Birthday…by the way, you look fabulous in that red dress” thereby getting the full punch from the promotion. But no dice. Just the discounted receipt, which was swell but not sweet.

My point isn’t that I need salespeople to blow out my candles. It’s that when you invest big bucks in a promotion, train your sales floor to execute. “Gift” doesn’t mean “giveaway”…it means, thank you, I love you, come back. Make it feel that way and she will.

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Truebalance Wins with the Whole Truth

Recent advertising for New Balance’s new line of women’s toning shoes, Truebalance, points out that you can tone your body without toning down your style. As this growing toning-shoe segment has focused on fitness claims, New Balance is focusing on how you look while toning up. They have tapped into the whole truth of ego-protection here and I believe it will help them stand out in the category.

Half Truth: I’m open to trying new ways to get and stay in shape.

Whole Truth: I don’t want to look like a dork in the process.

And by advertising in both fitness and non-fitness magazines, such as Glamour, Instyle and Lucky, not only are they capturing those that want to look good while working out, they have also opened up the category to those who like the idea of a “work-out” without ever having to actually work out.  Being part of the fit club continues to build on this whole truth. Great job New Balance!

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You Are NOT Old Spice

Cringe Factor: 10+
Humor Factor: 0
Makes me want to buy the competitor Factor: 10+

So Stayfree in Canada thought they’d learned something from Old Spice and launched a viral campaign (glad it is a virus because it makes me want to heave) for their products. I hate to drive traffic to this campaign at all so I will post a link to an article about it by Hollie Shaw from the Financial Post just to be fair to our readers.

Here’s the gist: a man (that the agency decided you will find so sexy and sweet and romantic that you will forget to have any dignity) is setting up the perfect date for you (according to the agency) and in the middle of the video this same shirtless man starts to talk about the virtues of Stayfree versus the competitor and offers a link to get a free box.

Let me be clear: NO MAN in advertising should be talking about things with wings that don’t fly. I don’t care how evolved we all are I am not cool with this. Why should a man you are dating be an expert in pads??? How creepy!?

It was strategic for Old Spice to recognize that women are doing the shopping for the men in their lives so appealing to them actually made business sense (besides just making a joke). Men will only buy women feminine hygiene products under duress. This just feels like a misdirected copycat.

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Women Want to Be Richer or Thinner

Women Choose Being Richer and Thinner over Smarter and Younger

According to a new Adweek Media/Harris Poll, if women could be granted one wish to change something about themselves they would choose to be richer or thinner. In this poll, American adults were asked if they would most want to be richer, thinner, smarter, or younger, a large plurality (43%) professed that they would want to be richer, according to a recent Adweek Media/Harris Poll. However, it appears men and women view these traits slightly differently. Although just 14% of both men and women say they would choose to be smarter, that’s the only characteristic they agree on. More men say that they would choose to be richer (46%, compared to 41% of women), while 29% of women say that they would most want to be thinner, compared to just 14% of men who say the same. And while women may have the stereotype of lying about their age, 16% of men say they would most want to be younger, compared to just 8% of women who say the same.

Mary Lou Quinlan, CEO and Jen Drexler, Principal of Just Ask a Woman and co-authors of the recent book What She’s Not Telling You, see these results as evidence of women’s Half-Truth telling—a topic the Just Ask a Woman team spoke about during last year’s M2W®. Quinlan observes, “While in public most women might claim the Half Truth that they’d prefer brains to money, the Whole Truth (especially in this economy), is that they’d like to be richer. With a little extra cash, they can always study their way to smarter or buy their way to thinner. It’s not politically correct but it’s honest.” Drexler weighs in, “Likewise, we’re not surprised that women chose being thinner above younger. Gen Y, X and Boomer women don’t necessarily want to “be” younger or sacrifice the wisdom that comes with age. They want to “feel” and “look” younger which is often equated to a mythical or real time when they felt happiest with their weight. Leave it to women to find a way to have their cake and eat it too!”

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Booty Call

Okay, I never thought I would start a post with that title, but I couldn’t resist. In today’s Wall Street Journal, I read about a new craze that’s kind of the push up bra for your derriere. Seems that Beyonce and Kim Kardashian’s curvy bottoms have now made a well-shaped backside top of mind for millions of women who are buying all kinds of inflated panties to make up for what nature didn’t give them.

A couple of women dreamed up Booty Pop which is really just underwear padded on the back to fill out tight jeans. Spanx has their version. Victoria’s Secret has theirs. Might there be a Butts R Us coming to a shopping mall near you?

Guess there’s a never ending market for giving women a chance to become what they’re not. Curly haired women get keratin straightening treatments. Pale girls are instantly spray tanned. And now pancakes are becoming creampuffs. The good news about this story is that for once, the bigger gals or the ones with ‘assets’ get to win for a change. And that is truly bootylicious!

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Vanity Fair Doesn’t Believe Their Readers Are Telling The Whole Truth

I started giggling while reading Vanity Fair, and it wasn’t because I was staring at Cristiano Ronaldo’s beautiful abs.  It was the intro to The 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll. VF admitted in a sassy tone that they could not believe the results of their own telephone interviews; “for anyone looking over the results of our most recent poll, in which some of the answers seem to be, frankly, inside out”.  They go on to summarize some of the findings with such comments as, “we would have predicted the opposite…counter to our expectations…we’d venture that those proportions would be reverse.” And concluded with, “how would we know for sure?”

I love Vanity Fair. I know they’re smart and I applaud them for being bold enough to publicly question the results of their survey. I don’t believe that 9 in 10 Americans tell their doctors the absolute truth about everything either. But when clients ask why we so strongly believe in qualitative research versus quantitative I feel like I have some new support in my back pocket now. It’s in the follow up question, even if it just a “really?” which I believe this polled lacked. It’s the way she crosses her arms, averts her gaze, even laughs after saying something out loud to your face, the body language, the way she interacts with the other women in the group.  Not blindly answering questions on her cell phone while cooking dinner, painting her toenails or watching TV. Why do we believe in qualitative research? So we can see the Whole Truth.

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We’re Finally Talking Real Beauty, Right?

So if you are a celebrity, appearing in photographs without retouching is the new craze. It’s like saying “see how normal I am?” Or is this the kind of faux honesty that often works just as good as the genuine kind? I will venture to say that these photos versus photos of regular, “real” women will drive women to buy products/magazines.

This trend seems to be picking up steam. Jamie Lee Curtis did it first and in the most dramatic way. She waited until she was of a “certain age” and really exposed herself on a magazine cover with uncolored hair and wrinkles. But, let’s be honest…if she hadn’t done that would we be talking about her at all? Would she have gotten the Activia – ‘now I can poop’ job?

Now news has hit that Britney Spears is insisting that Candie’s show both her unretouched and retouched shots for their new campaign. In the raw shots, you can see a little dimpling on her thighs and a slightly thicker waist but let’s keep in mind that we are still talking about Britney. Even during her crazy, bald, tattoo period she had a rockin bod. Good for her for making the gesture. Will it sell more shoes? That remains to be seen but I have to say I’m impressed by Candie’s risk taking and Whole Truth chutzpah.

Jessica Simpson is on the cover of Marie Claire without any makeup. Her effort to boost self esteem in women is being eclipsed, however, by negative nellies who are trying to say that she has traces of leftover makeup on for the picture. Don’t you think it is time someone left this poor girl alone?

What makes these gestures work is that we are basically dealing with women who are already pretty fantastic looking. When you put makeup on Jessica Simpson she just gets prettier not less ugly. We (regular women) like to see celebrities looking more like normal people. It’s comforting even if their level of beauty is still supremely out of reach.

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Thanks, But No Thanks

I try to not let a blog go by where I don’t mention my love of online discount designer websites (hello, ruelala). And when I first heard about Gilt Groupe and its special ‘invitation only’ I e-mailed them, told a small white lie that I was a regular on the NYC sample sale scene and heard female shoppers talking about a site and asked for an invitation.

I felt super cool when they promptly emailed me back and graciously extended an invitation. I love the feeling of exclusivity, as long as I’m on the right side of it.

There was a quick pang in my heart when my brother asked me if I needed an invitation to Gilt the other day. It became a little less cool to me; the exclusivity lost a little bit (a 29 year old male asking his cool younger sister if she had heard about something hip, why of course I had).

So when I was doing some work research (no, really) and came across Daily Candy’s shopping site, Swirl, I clicked to sign up.  Unfortunately, I was greeted with a “we’ll let you know when we’re ready for you”. Huh? I felt rejected.

About 10 days later I got an e-mail “We’re ready for you…Bet you thought we forgot about you.” Seriously? Just the way to make a girl feel special.

Thanks, Swirl, but no thanks. I’ll stick with gilt, ruelala, beyond the rack, ideeli, etc.

Half Truth: I want to be part of the inner circle

Whole Truth: But I don’t want to feel like I’m elbowing my way into it…

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October 28, 2020
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK

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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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