Original Coppertone ad
|Owner||Merck & Co.|
|Registered as a trademark in||U.S., Canada|
Coppertone is the brand name for an American sunscreen, owned by Merck, formerly Schering-Plough. Coppertone is the sister brand to Bain de Soleil, which is targeted to adult women. The name originated from its marketing of suntan lotion.
It dates to 1944, when pharmacist Benjamin Green invented a lotion to darken tans. The company became famous in 1959 when it introduced the Coppertone girl, an advertisement showing a young blond girl in pigtails staring in surprise as a Cocker Spaniel sneaks up behind her and pulls down her blue swimsuit bottom, revealing her buttocks to have a lighter tone than the rest of her body. Accompanying the ads was the impish slogan, "Don't be a paleface!"
The original Coppertone logo was the profile of an Indian chief. In 1953 Tally Embry Advertising in Florida was hired, and their ad men created the concept of the little girl and the pup. An artist named Joyce Ballantyne Brand re-drew the little girl in 1959 when the original artwork was destroyed in a fire. She was then working for Grant Advertising in New York. She purportedly used her daughter, Cheri, as her model, although her drawing closely resembled the original artwork  A series of mechanical billboards was constructed across the United States, whereon the motorized dog and swimsuit bottoms rocked up and down perpetually. Though most of them are long since gone or have stopped moving, one such billboard of the then Coppertone Girl still stands in Miami Beach — dog, pigtails, swimsuit, and all.[not in citation given] Sometime around 1965, Jodie Foster made her acting debut as the Coppertone girl in a television commercial, when she was three years old.
In 1993, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the sunscreen, a contest was held at Disney's Polynesian Hotel in Orlando Florida to find "The Coppertone Girl", since Cheri Brand had grown up by then. The contest was hosted by Regis Philbin along with Cheri as one of the judges. The winner was picked based on the contestant's maturity, congeniality, eloquence, confidence, and how well she resembled the cartoon. The winner was four-year-old Alexis Durgee. She was chosen out of over 100,000 models and twenty remaining finalists. Afterwards she appeared on Sally Jessy Raphael Show with Cheri Brand and Dalton Orband, the winning Coppertone Boy. Alexis went on to model for Coppertone and Water Babies advertisements through the following year and was shot in several Coppertone commercials.
In 2012, Coppertone launched a national photo contest on their Facebook page which was advertised to parents as a search for the next "Little Miss Coppertone". They were looking for a modern girl who embodied the "spirit" of their original girl in the iconic ads. Thousands of entries were reportedly submitted. Alison Sweeney (of Biggest Loser, and Days of our Lives fame) served as Celebrity Judge along with others on a panel to choose just 10 finalists. After the announcement of finalists, Facebook users could vote for their favorite girl. The winner was announced on the brand's Facebook page after the voting period had ended. Five year old Alaina Thompson of Florida was chosen. Alaina appeared in a Coppertone ad the following year.
At the turn of the 21st century, Coppertone revised drawings of the Coppertone Girl so that they would be less revealing and show no tan lines. Some recent versions show only the girl's lower back, as opposed to her buttocks, or wearing a T-shirt, a hat, and holding a bottle of Coppertone while the puppy is shown pulling on her shirt.
- "Real Florida: Red-faced with the Coppertone Girl". St. Petersburg Times. September 5, 2004. Retrieved September 6, 2004.
- "Sun Screening: It's The Little Miss Coppertone". Seattle Times. July 3, 1993. Retrieved July 8, 2000.
- NYT Staff (May 18, 2006). "Joyce B. Brand, Commercial Artist, Dies at 88". New York Times.
- Seattle Times, Alexis Durgee & Dalton Orband named Coppertone boy and girl.