"Does she ... or doesn't she?" asks one of advertising's most familiar and titillating slogans. The question, as every reader of advertisements knows, refers to artificial hair colorand the odds on an affirmative answer have dropped from 15 to 1 to 2 to 1 since Miss Clairol first asked it eleven years ago. Sales of tints, rinses and dyes have risen from $25 million to $186 mil lion a year. So popular is their use that some states no longer require women to list their hair color on their driver's licenses. Now industry-leading Bristol-Myers' Clairol division, whose Miss Clairol, Lady Clairol, Nice 'n Easy, Loving Care and Summer Blonde cremes and rinses have been aimed mostly at would-be blondes, is making a major effort to add more shades. Last week in Seattle and Phoenix the company began test-marketing six "Radiantly Red" hair colors with such names as Fire brand, Heady Wine and Spicy Clove. Says Clairol President Bruce Gelb: "We're giving the brunette something to think about."
Plenty of Encouragement. Changing hair color is almost as enduring a female experience as pregnancy. Surveys show that the average woman thinks about it for nine months before she decides to change her shade for the first time. In October, when Radiantly Reds will be marketed nationally, Gelb will offer plenty of encouragement by means of TV, magazines, bus and subway posters. "Every woman should be a redhead at least once in her life," Clairol will suggest. "Some lucky girls are born red," says another ad. "Others catch up." Of its $45 million advertising budget, the company is committing about $2,000,000 to Radiantly Redfour times as much as the entire Clairol cam paign cost when "Does she ... or doesn't she?" first burst out of women's magazines and into general conversation.
Not surprisingly, a woman is behind the ads. When Foote, Cone & Belding won the Clairol account in 1955, the agency assigned it to Shirley Polykoff, a Brooklyn-born mother of two who can write better advertising copy than most men in the game. She invented the Clairol girl"clean, wholesome, casual. You can imagine meeting this girl at a P.T.A. meeting." As the campaign took off and the product line expanded, she posed more questions: "Is it true blondes have more fun?" (Lady Clairol). "What would your husband do if suddenly you looked ten years younger?" (Loving Care).
Eye-Stopping. Since Clairol's successful campaign started, Shirley Polykoff's career has risen right along with
Bristol-Myers' sales chart lines. She is now a vice president and associate creative director of Foote, Cone & Belding, supervises a staff of ten, was recently named 1967's advertising woman of the year. Widowed since 1961, she lives in a Park Avenue apartment cluttered with paintings and sculpture, steadfastly refuses to disclose her age in spite of a 40-year advertising career. But then, why should she? Dreaming up Miss Clairol, Miss Polykoff switched herself from fading blonde to "Innocent Blonde." Last week, with a new promotion under way, she was an eye-stopping blend of Radiantly Reds.