Coppertone (sunscreen)

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Product typeSunscreen
Previous ownersBayer
Merck & Co., Inc.
Registered as a trademark inU.S., Canada

Coppertone is the brand name for an American sunscreen.[1][2] Coppertone is headquartered in Whippany, New Jersey.[3] Coppertone uses a variety of branding, including the Coppertone girl logo and a distinctive fragrance.

One of the few remaining ads in existence, on the side of a building in Miami

Product line[edit]

The original product dates to 1944, when pharmacist Benjamin Green invented a lotion to darken tans.[4] The product line has been expanded to include many skin care products, predominantly sunscreens. Coppertone has become the leading sun care brand in the United States, with annual $9 billion in global sales.[4]


A variety of kinds of branding are used to identify various Coppertone products

Coppertone name[edit]

The name Coppertone originated from its marketing of suntan lotion.

Coppertone girl[edit]

The company became famous in 1953 when it introduced the Coppertone girl, an advertisement showing a young blonde girl in pigtails staring in surprise as a Cocker Spaniel puppy sneaks up behind her and pulls down her blue swimsuit bottom, revealing her bottom to have a lighter tone than the rest of her body.

The logo has been redrawn many times to meet varying branding objectives. Early versions show the girl wearing only petite swimsuit bottoms and flowers in her pigtails. 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 bottom, or wearing a T-shirt, a hat, and holding a bottle of Coppertone while the puppy is shown pulling on her shorts.

Logo history[edit]

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.[5]

Coppertone sign[edit]

A series of mechanical billboards were 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, bottom, and all.

Live models[edit]

When Joyce Ballantyne Brand redrew the logo in 1959, she purportedly used her daughter, Cheri, as her model, and her drawing closely resembled the original artwork.[5]

In 1993, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Coppertone girl, 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.


Many Coppertone products share a distinctive fragrance. Chandler Burr described it as "arguably the single greatest work of scent branding ever."[6] A researcher on human memory used it as an example of an odor that evokes memories.[7] Besides for the classic fragrance, the Coppertone product line has expanded to include other scents.[4]


Accompanying early Coppertone girl ads was the slogan, "Don't be a paleface!"

Another tagline was "Tan, don't burn".[4] This slogan was adapted to the French market in the 1973 advertising campaign "Bronzez vite et sans danger" featuring a close-up of the top of a bathing suit worn, this time, by a grown-up woman (Moors & Warot advertising agency).


  • 1944 Benjamin Green develops a suntan lotion
  • 1957 Plough acquires Coppertone
  • 1971 Schering Corporation merges with Plough to form Schering-Plough
  • 2009 Merck & Co. acquires Schering-Plough
  • 2014 Bayer acquires Merck & Co.'s consumer business, including Coppertone[8]
  • 2019 Beiersdorf AG announces agreement to acquire Coppertone from Bayer. According to Beiersdorf's president, the purchase will strengthen the company's presence in the USA market.[3] Beiersdorf already owns Nivea, whose Nivea Sun is a leading sunscreen in Europe.[8]


Circa 2018, competing brands included Neutrogena and Banana Boat.[4]


  1. ^ "Real Florida: Red-faced with the Coppertone Girl". St. Petersburg Times. September 5, 2004. Retrieved September 6, 2004.
  2. ^ T.M. Shine (July 4, 1993). "Sun Screening: It's The Little Miss Coppertone". The Seattle Times.
  3. ^ a b "Beiersdorf to Take Coppertone from Bayer". chemanager-online. Wiley. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Coppertone: Creating the Leading Sun Care Brand by Understanding Consumers". (Study aid for Kerin and Hartley, Marketing: the core, 2018, McGraw Hill Education). Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  5. ^ a b NYT Staff (May 18, 2006). "Joyce B. Brand, Commercial Artist, Dies at 88". New York Times.
  6. ^ Burr, Chandler (May 11, 2010). "Scent Notes | Ocean Currents". T Magazine. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  7. ^ Herz, Rachel S. (March 1, 2004). "A Naturalistic Analysis of Autobiographical Memories Triggered by Olfactory Visual and Auditory Stimuli". Chemical Senses. 29 (3): 217–224. doi:10.1093/chemse/bjh025. ISSN 0379-864X. PMID 15047596.
  8. ^ a b "Nivea-maker Beiersdorf buys Coppertone for $550 million". Reuters. May 13, 2019. Retrieved August 25, 2019.

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