Original Coppertone ad
|Registered as a trademark in||U.S., Canada|
Coppertone is the brand name for an American sunscreen, owned by Bayer, formerly Merck & Co., Inc., 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 topless girl in pigtails staring in surprise as a Boykin 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. 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 her 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, and her drawing closely resembled her 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.
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.
- "Real Florida: Red-faced with the Coppertone Girl". St. Petersburg Times. September 5, 2004. Retrieved September 6, 2004.
- T.M. Shine (July 4, 1993). "Sun Screening: It's The Little Miss Coppertone". The Seattle Times.
- 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.