1968 represented a turning point in world events and a shift in American culture. To the members of the Great Lakes Mink Association (GLMA), these turbulent times seemed a world away. Working long hours on farms throughout the upper Midwestern United States, they were busy improving and producing the world’s finest dark mink. Little did they know that their work would form the basis of a revolutionary new marketing campaign.
The GLMA ranchers hired a small New York ad agency to create awareness for the high-quality fur being produced by the farmers. Popular copywriter Jane Trahey suggested creating the brand name BLACKGLAMA.
How does one advertise something as special as the dark Blackglama mink? The luster and quality of the fur doesn’t show up in a photograph, so Jane thought up a “gimmick.”
The “gimmick” was to associate Blackglama with the glamour of universally recognized and admired people. The result was brilliantly simple: a black-and-white photograph of a well-known woman wearing a Blackglama mink coat shot against a seamless grey backdrop.
The world took notice. Famous names like Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Barbra Streisand and Lauren Bacall were featured in the first year of the campaign alone, photographed by the renowned Richard Avedon. What brought it all together was the straightforward and now unforgettable tagline, “What Becomes A Legend Most?” The effect was powerful and immediate. Within two years, Blackglama was considered the most prestigious ranch black mink in the world. The campaign continued through 1994.
In 2001, American Legend Cooperative approached Laspata DeCaro, an advertising agency known for its work in the fashion industry, leading to a revival and reinvention of the now iconic Blackglama campaign. Everyone agreed that despite its renowned reputation, the campaign needed to change in order to reflect the versatility of Blackglama—how it can be designed and styled above and beyond the traditional coat.
The original campaign featured just one ad of each “Legend.” “But with so many applications now with fur, it doesn’t work to have just one shot,” said Rocco Laspata, Charles DeCaro’s partner at the agency. The campaign now consists of multiple ads featuring each “Legend” wearing a different garment.
Since 2001, the campaign has featured such supermodels as Linda Evangelista, Gisele Bündchen, Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson, Naomi Campbell and Elizabeth Hurley. Into the new millennium, the brand is expanding beyond dark mink to include other products that reflect the “Legendary” qualities of Blackglama.