You may not think "shrewd businesswoman" when you think of Pamela Anderson, but she's out to change your mind. You won't find her latest work on TV or in a centerfold; you have to head to one of 20,000 Rite-Aid, CVS/Pharmacy, Walgreen's, and Sears stores in the US.
After 15 years in development, Pamela Anderson launched the "Malibu" line of fragrance this week. She aspired to create, "...something beachy and fun, yet earth-friendly and cruelty-free because anyone who knows me knows the importance I place on protecting the environment and safety of animals."
Launching a brand does not necessarily breed success. Anderson is off to a decent start--in two suburban Philadelphia Rite-Aid appearances, about 400 people showed up. Mostly men. But in order to meet Ms. Anderson, each visitor had to purchase the $39-$49/bottle perfume. That's more than $16,000 in sales for a little over 2 hours of work.
Girl Next Door?
Anderson tries to exude accessibility--which is part of her plan. If you've ever been to a celebrity meet and greet, you usually get 10 seconds to have the star sign the book, CD, or photo and move on. Not at this event. Yes, there were beefy security guards and a half dozen police officers to deter any riff-raff. But Anderson happily posed for photos, signed multiple copies of past issues of Playboy which featured her, and even one Toronto Maple Leafs jersey (Anderson is Canadian.)
One fan, Fred Maniscalco, flew from Cincinnati, OH for the day when he read about the opportunity. "She stands for all the good things in life," referring to her beauty and her support for animal rights. Her fans encompass all walks of life from Pam Anderson-wannabes to "women of a certain age" in fur to 40-something men who brought their young sons and tattered Playboy issues from the 90s. Anderson appeared on the cover of the magazine 12 times, most recently in 2004.
Juan Dominguez, a clean-cut 42 year old from the Philly burbs defined the brand of Pamela Anderson as, "Blonde ambition. She is a strong woman who is very smart about her career decisions."
Don't Call Me a Brand!
But to ask Anderson to describe her brand? "I HATE being called a brand," she says. "It's so much more than that, than just putting your name on a product."
She attributes her endurance in the public eye, despite ups and downs in her personal and professional life to keeping it real. "Being authentic is key."
Authentic means she wears her perfume and uses the other products that will soon appear on store shelves bearing the "Malibu" name--hair care, skin care, and sun care. It took 15 years to develop the line because Anderson would not submit to animal testing and technology had to catch up. Portions of the profits go to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, one of Anderson's causes since her Baywatch days.
She's Not Done Yet
Anderson isn't done. She's got a swimsuit line coming out. Her past work still lingers. Two books published in 2005 and 2006 are still for sale on Amazon. The early 90s series Home Improvement where she played the sexiest person to ever sling a tool belt is available on DVD. And let's not forget Baywatch, the show that made her an international success, broadcast in 140 countries. As a testament to her enduring fame, RTI German television covered her Philadelphia appearance.
Pamela Anderson may hate the "branding" of her image, but as Janet Sills, PhD, wrote in a 2008 issue of Psychology Today, "For a successful long-term career, do not look to your company or industry to take care of you. As in every other arena of life, you must take care of yourself. A well-built brand will be your life raft." Anderson, the former lifeguard, is not likely to sink any time soon.