I’ve really had to sit and think what my view is on this new campaign. In case you’ve missed it, Max Factor has ‘signed’ Marilyn Monroe to be the face of the brand. Or rather, has signed the ‘estate of Marilyn Monroe’.
So, a brand ambassador that’s no longer with us. Well, maybe it’s a first (unless you count the Galaxy/Audrey Hepburn) at least. It’s just kind of unsettling. Dior used Marilyn’s image in a campaign, using CGI, but they did it briefly and didn’t appoint her a global ambassador!
Here’s what I DO get about the campaign. Max Factor himself was responsible for the beauty transformation from Norma Jeane to Marilyn Monroe. Make up is transformative – we all feel so much better for a bit of lippie and who doesn’t love a bit of glamour? Marilyn is the ultimate glamour icon who started off just a regular girl and became an idol and inspiration.
What I don’t get, however, is the airbrushing of what wasn’t a particularly happy life – she was a very troubled woman and we have far more understanding of that now than way back then. Maybe because we take mental health issues more seriously now or understand them better, but either way, let her be. We know now that there was so much more to her than her bleached blonde hair and red lips. And also, the huge elephant in the room – she is actually not alive. From all the alive people in the entire world, Max Factor chose one that isn’t.
Max Factor are planning huge social media campaigns around this so it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to avoid the many visuals, and it’s also unlikely that you’ll see any views other than positive because there’s plenty of ad money around this.
But, it cannot be just me that’s thinking there’s something a little bit disrespectful and macabre about appointing a deceased Global Ambassador to infuse us with positivity about make-up. And, also I might say, a rather poor decision from the Estate of Marilyn Monroe, who saw dollar signs before sense.
If I could be a fly on the wall for just one hour, I would like to have been at the PR and marketing meetings, where some big cheese at Max Factor said, “Guess what, guys… “. How is it possible that nobody said no to this?
What’s your view? Is it okay to revive Marilyn in this way?
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I agree with all your points, although I think the white washing of mental health issues is still pretty prevalent across the board in the media. it’s hard to ignore the reality of her life and there is plenty of facts out there for anyone who can type her name in google. Who next, Anna Nicole Smith! It’s in bad taste to say the least
I think it’s a fine decision – I have no issue with it at all. I don’t see why mental health issues should be a factor in assigning an Ambassador, whether dead or not.
Max Factor are celebrating an iconic woman – simple and powerful as that.
I’m a huge Marilyn fan, have been all my life, so I am looking forward to seeing her everywhere and my nieces will hopefully be introduced to her and will perhaps want to find out why she’s still intriguing us so many years after her death.
Far rather her than a vacuous, PR-lobotomised actress. Marilyn was a Film Star in the truest sense of the words.
I agree with you – it is rather unsettling, but then even Chanel has used her face – I remember seeing a movie clipping of Marilyn saying those famous words about Chanel No 5 on youtube.It’s still on the Chanel youtube page. Not sure whether they used it as an ad.And you did say Dior used her name – so why not? After all they all want to sell their stuff and who better to epitomise transformation and glamour than Marilyn Monroe?
I’m with you on this! I think it’s very weird to have a brand ambassador thats deceased. I just feel like there are lots of alive women are are incredible role models and would be fantastic! Then again, MM was way before my time! Maybe older women feel like she fits the role perfectly!
No I don’t like this!
Didnt like the Dior ad or the Galaxy ad.
I understand the connection between Maxfactor and MM but she’s no longer alive can’t we let her rip rather than sticking her face on anything and everything. It feels tacky and soulless.
And all the humanitarian work Audrey Hepburn did, I really wonder whether she would want to advertise for chocolate!
It just seems wrong and very lazy on the part of the marketing dept of these brands!
I agree, I could understand them using her face for advertising as it’s a praise to her beauty. But an Ambassador? How can somebody agree to be an ambassador when they are no longer here. Use Marilyn’s face because her image because it’s inspiring, not for money.
I really hate it, and call it “necro-marketing”.
I think it’s perfectly fine. After all, just because someone has passed, doesn’t mean you still can’t admire them. Long gone, but Marilyn is still an icon that many women aspire to be like in the glamour and style sense. Sure, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this was all done for the extra money it would bring in, but again, I don’t see it as disrespectful or anything. Plus, the brand was the one in charge of turning Marilyn into who she was as a beauty icon. I’m certain even if she were alive she’d totally be okay with being the ambassador. After all, they made her the bombshell she was. What I don’t get is how people are calling this ‘tacky’ and such yet when the Marilyn collection from MAC came out some years ago, everyone went gaga over it. It’s almost the same thing and yet that didn’t receive any complaints.
Yes, it’s interesting that opinion is so divided on it. I can’t put my finger on why this particular campaign has got me, while as you say, MAC didn’t and neither did the Dior one.
It’s a bit weird, isn’t it?
I think it’s a little bit disrespectful to have her as a brand ambassador, she’s being used to promote products without having any say in it herself, purely because she was iconic. I think people have to think: how would you feel having your face plastered all over products and adverts as a ‘brand ambassador’ without having the option to accept or decline it yourself?
Having a Marilyn-insired collection is okay, but ‘brand ambassador’ suggests she uses/approves of the products when she obviously can’t!
It’s one thing to pay homage to someone. It’s another to put the dead in a marketing campaign making it look like she’s supporting them from beyond the grave. I absolutely hate it.
I have no issue buying a “Marilyn Red” lipstick but it sits uneasily with me to see her remastered on a galaxy advert etc. You can’t consent from the grave and even if someone owns the rights to your image I can’t see how they can justify an endorsement which can’t possibly be true
Unless Max Factors advertising exec’s have a phone line to upstairs!
I am divided over this. So many old stars who were incredible get forgotten about over time. In a way things like this keeps Marilyn’s memory alive. She was a happy person in the beginning of her career according to people who knew her. Because she developed mental health issues and sadly killed herself doesn’t mean that negates everything else she accomplished. Mental illness is a disease that effects the physical chemistry of the brain and one probably wouldn’t say let her be if she had succumbed rather to a disease like cancer or heart disease. However, it also seems wrong that people are making money off her still. It is strange that someone can own a deceased person’s name and image and sell it for profit.
I agree with you regarding achievements not being negated by mental illness – I should have made that clearer. But, nonetheless, it was a sad end and a complicated life.
I’m not sure about this, mainly because I don’t think any one knows what products Monroe actually used. if there was a definite set of products – this shade of lippie, mascara, blush etc – that would be less weird.
I hate it. She’s dead. It has nothing to do with her mental health for me, it has to do with the fact that MF could say ‘Marilyn Red’ on a lipstick for example but HOW DO WE KNOW IT IS? Are they going to use psychics?
I also think it’s happened because she left her estate to her acting coach. It’s not like she has children that want to protect their mother’s legacy.
WRONG. Poor show MF.
Funnily enough I’ve just been doing a search on the make up she did use.. she apparently was a fan of Elizabeth Arden, and a brand called Anne of Denmark or something similar.. MF doesn’t readily pop up on quick search. Yes, it’s a purely commercial thing and it feels like it, too. Some brands are so proud of their heritage and others just exploit it.
I love beauty icons – dead or alive. I applaud women like Joanna Lumley and Joan Collins for their sense of style and glamour and their intelligence – age will never wither women like these. And although Marilyn is dead, I agree that it’s a bit naff to earn money off it – maybe a huge amount of profit should be going to some Mental Health charity? But I love the fact that her image will live on and young people will find out more about Marilyn – her fascinating life, the ups and downs, the good and the bad. The fact that she had such a strong link with Max Factor makes it even more relevant I think. Again…perhaps a special lipstick shade that could give all proceeds to the charity Mind or such like?
That would be a very good idea… MF totally missed a trick there.
Definitely! Look how much we raise for breast cancer through certain pink cosmetics etc – could be fab couldn’t it?! X
Hate the idea. Obviously I know that Marilyn is a beauty/style icon but I didn’t even like the MAC collection. I don’t get the obsession with Marilyn in general – it feels like bandwagon jumping to me, and it comes across as very disrespectful. Maybe she wouldn’t have wanted her image used to sell makeup. If it were a broader “Hollywood Icons” collection maybe that wouldn’t have been as bad but to claim that a dead woman is a brand ambassador…….no. Very disrespectful. Ditto the Audrey/Galaxy ad, it’s just gross.
I agree that it is a bit odd and i’m totally not into the whole whitewashing of mental health issues at all, I think that they had the perfect opportunity to publicise mental health issue and even donate some of the proceeds to a very worthy charity.
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I had to think hard on this one too..
Although Marilyn is proof of the transformative power of make up, and also proof that curvy can be sexy I do feel that maybe someone alive who embodies this might be better.
Having said that, if anyone epitomises glamourous it’s her!!
I found the Audrey Hepburn/Galaxy chocolate bar ad (and the Gap one a while back, come to think of it) really creepy.
As others have said, I think it would have been better if they had tied it into some sort of charitable cause relating to Marilyn. I think the Gap people donated money to one of Audrey’s charities (I don’t know about Galaxy), but I think Max Factor could have taken a better approach with this campaign than just plastering Marilyn’s face all over social media.
I think this a Brad Pitt/Chanel Mark 2 misfire. I don’t see the relevance of Marilyn Munroe to today’s make up. Of the two pictures at the start of the article I prefer the before picture. Some Like It Hot and How to Marry a Millionaire are two of my favourite films but they were made in the 1950s some 60 years ago and has anyone under 20 watched them. Marilyn’s association with Chanel No5 and her untimely end actually put me off the scent. Agree with other comments regarding Audrey Hepburn.
Interesting and let’s be honest…unusual)
I hate the idea, but then I hate what Marilyn has come to represent so pretty much any marketing involving her would put me off. Let’s get real here: Marilyn Monroe wasn’t picked because she once used Max Factor products. She was picked because she is the biggest female star ever. And that’s because she was the Lindsay Lohan of the Hollywood Golden Age- mentally unstable and encouraged in her self-destructive behaviours by executives, ‘family’,’friends’ and the media because she caused scandals and gained publicity. I’m not saying that Lohan and Monroe are identical, but the parallels are there.
Almost everything about her that contributes to Marilyn’s ‘allure’ or makes her ‘intriguing’ was a result of her mental illness. Yet somehow public image has transformed this into her being a ‘strong woman ahead of her time’ rather than ‘a desperately unhappy, struggling woman with a self-destructive illness’. She was a beautiful woman and a great actress with a vibrant presence on screen (and apparently in real life). But really, the only reason she is more iconic and ‘beloved’ than any other big female star of the time is because we have fetishized her illness. And that makes our society no better than the one which misunderstood her and treated her badly while she was alive.
I couldn’t agree more with you. If they had launched a small collection paying homage to her then I wouldn’t have an issue with this but making her global ambassador to me is odd. Its just another way to get attention and people talking about the brand.