Clairol Mentor Program: Case Study
Clairol wanted an innovative public service program that would target two specific age groups: Women in their 20’s as well as women over 30. The new program had to highlight Clairol’s sense of responsibility to women and its efforts in enhancing women’s careers and lifestyles. The program had to also sell Clairol beauty products.
We conducted brainstorming sessions in the agency to gain insights into how women can enhance their careers and lifestyles. There was agreement that mentoring, long identified with men, was starting to find its way among women. Research showed that there was no existing program which encouraged mentoring relationships on a national basis between leading, established women and aspiring women from a variety of career fields.
Through Clairol’s sponsorship, the first, national company-sponsored mentoring program covering a variety of career fields was established.
- Reinforce Clairol’s position as a company committed to women and their betterment.
- Enhance Clairol’s reputation as a leader in sponsoring innovative, meaningful and results-oriented programs for women.
- Target Clairol’s audiences: Women in their 20’s and over 30; opinion-makers, especially women from various professions.
- Expand sales of the Clairol product line.
- Design a program that promotes mentoring between established women and aspiring women from a variety of career fields.
- Encourage ongoing mentoring relationships between the mentors and protégés matched by the program.
- Publicize the program via consumer and trade media.
Selection of Mentors
Clairol and the Agency selected 11 career categories: Advertising, banking & finance, culinary arts, education, fashion, journalism, law, publishing, real estate, retailing, small business. We researched and identified leading mentor candidates in each field and met with them individually to ascertain interest. The mentors were chosen based on their contributions to their fields and the time and commitment they could give their protégés.
Selection of Protégés
We conducted and publicized a search for protégés through a nationwide essay competition asking entrants to describe in 100 words or less their views on mentoring and how it could play a role in career success. We publicized the search by sending the consumer and trade media a series of press releases. All of this was accomplished without advertising spend. The National Women’s Economic Alliance Foundation screened the essay entries; the Clairol Mentor Program Advisory Board consisting of other prestigious women, chose the finalists. The winning protégé in each field was selected by the mentor herself.
On the eve of the award luncheon held in New York City, Clairol invited the mentors and protégés to an informal dinner to get acquainted. The morning of the luncheon, protégés were treated to a beauty spa that included professional make-up and hair styling. Hair coloring with Miss Clairol experts was also offered. At the award luncheon, the president of Clairol and actress Linda Evans, chairperson for the Clairol Mentor Program, presented the mentors and their protégés with Distinguished Mentor and Protégé Award certificates and $1,000 grants. Clairol paid the travel and accommodation expenses of the out-of-town participants. Immediately following the award luncheon, the mentor and her protégé had their one-on-one mentoring session, to be followed by a series of ongoing communications throughout the year.
The National Women’s Economic Alliance Foundation, which screened the essays, received more than 5,000 entries from women nationwide.
USA Today interviewed the mentors and protégés and published a major article in its “Money” section on the day of the award luncheon. The Today Show, Good Morning America, Live with Regis and Kathy Lee, and Parade Magazine interviewed Linda Evans about her role as chairperson. The Good Day New York show interviewed the small business mentor, Debbie Fields (Mrs. Fields Cookies).
More than 130 editors of leading publications and heads of women’s organizations attended the award luncheon. The New York Daily News, UPI, AP, Christina Science Monitor and Glamour Magazine conducted interviews with participants.
Local publicity was generated in the protégé’s hometown media. We were able to publicize the development of some of the mentoring relationships. For example, the banking/finance mentor and protégé were publicized in McCall’s, Executive Female and Executive Financial Woman.
Some of the protégés reported that the advice from their mentors led to promotions, better jobs and self-confidence.
The Clairol Mentor Program continued for seven years.