Ally McBeal Meets the Coppertone Girl

Cute, perky, and pointless, logo girls need to get real

| September/October 2001

She sold salt for a living. She was white, tiny, and cute, and I helped make her what she is today. The year was 1967, and I worked on the redesign of the Morton Salt package.

The Salt Girl’s looks were important in persuading shoppers to buy the product. She had already been re-vamped several times since her birth in 1914. My first suggestion—to 86 the little girl—was met with horror from the client and a nervous "She’s a great kidder" from my boss.

For weeks, I churned out little girls. I made over "Mortie" (her office nickname) with long hair, short hair, straight hair, curly hair, varying degrees of femme-y dresses, and sockless or socked shoes—no pants, no boots. When the big day finally arrived, my bosses got stuck in New York traffic, which meant I made the presentation alone. Morton’s board of directors was ushered into our boardroom. The eyes of 12 men, all dressed in identical black three-piece suits, (the youngest pushing 60) were on me as I stood, looking suspiciously like a hippie to them, holding up one little girl after the other. The mood in the room was somber; no one cracked a smile.

After what seemed an interminable stony silence, I heard, "No long hair! She looks like a hippie!" The floodgates had opened. There was no stopping the directors: "She looks like a smarty pants!" "Too Jewish!" "No dark hair!" "She’s too old!" "Looks like a dyke to me!" "She looks easy!" "Not enough leg!" "No puffed sleeves! They call too much attention to her chest!" Her chest? What was she––7, maybe 8 years old? I fought a simultaneous need to laugh and throw up.

None of the little girls was right.

Back to the drawing board, and eventually, like Frankenstein’s monster, Mortie took shape: a head drawn by one designer, a hand from a freelancer, legs from an illustrator, the hair, dress, and shoes from—who cares?—we were all getting paid. Mortie ended up with the requisite cuteness and spunkiness, strutting her stuff in a rainstorm, letting all the product pour out.

I can’t tell you how many guys over the years have confessed their fantasies to me about various little logo girls: the Morton Salt Girl, the White Rock Soda Maiden, the Coppertone Sun Tan Lotion Girl, the Clabber Baking Powder Girl, and more.

Pam Hays
3/14/2009 9:50:10 PM


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