🖤 Donations of all sizes power our public service journalism Give Now

Wanted: Hot mom and spokesperson

Lisa Napoli Nov 15, 2006

KAI RYSSDAL: Marketing used to be pretty easy. You took your product. Figured out who your target audience was and where. And you went out and shot a commercial.

Let’s call that the old-school approach. Because life’s not quite so simple these days. The media universe, and our attention spans, have been fragmented. Marketplace’s Lisa Napoli takes a look at how one company is trying to work the problem.

LISA NAPOLI: It’s early on a Sunday morning in Los Angeles. The streets are dead. But in front of an old theater on Wilshire Boulevard, a long line of women snakes around the block. They’re decked out in their Saturday night finest, and they’re here to audition for a new reality TV show:

MAN: Who’s the hottest mom?

The show is called “Hottest Mom in America,” and its goals is to prove that having kids shouldn’t get in the way of being beautiful.

MOM 1:“I always told myself when I become a mom, I’m going to be so hot. I’m gonna be so sexy. I’m never going to be like, you know, flowered house dress.”

The contest and the show are the brainchild of the makers of Restylane. Never heard of it? It’s a gel injected into your face to fill in wrinkles.

JONAH SCHAKTI: The idea of just buying conventional advertising was relatively unappealing to us.

That’s Jonah Schakti. He runs Medicis, the company that makes Restylane. He felt that regular, old commercials for his product wouldn’t work. After all, sticking needles into your face doesn’t yet have widespread appeal. And women don’t want to identify with a product that’s associated with old age.

But these days, age is relative:

MOM 2: Fifty is the new 40, the 40 is the new 30, 30 is the new 20 and so on.

SCHAKTI: We thought that embedding a message like that in content would be something that would differentiate us from other products that were trying to get the attention of the same consumers.

So for the last few months, Medicis has been underwriting auditions around the country. The winner in each city will compete on a television show, paid for by Medicis. It will crown America’s hottest mom.

Jeff Greenfield is the producer of the show. He says the idea is to keep it subtle.

JEFF GREENFIELD: This show is not an infomercial for the product Restylane at all. There are some segments that include their product. But that’s it. They could have spent much less money waiting until it got on the network and had the same thing, like how you see how companies end up with a segment on Apprentice and stuff.

Most of the women who show up at the Hot Mom auditions don’t seem to know or care who’s behind the program. Some were just interested in winning the $25,000 scholarship prize for their kid. Others are happy to have the chance to show off how good they look:

MOM 3:“I take as good a care of myself as I do my family, and I think that makes me a hot mom, and I’m OK with that.”

Whether she’ll be OK with minimally invasive cosmetic surgery is another story. But Jeff Greenfield and his client are banking on it:

JEFF GREENFIELD: The goodwill from this show to the female community and to families in general is going to be at least ten times worth their investment alone.

And that’s very, very hot.

MOM 4: I welcome age. I mean, Grandma Moses was a late bloomer. She started her career at 80. Right? . . . Do I have lipstick on my teeth, by the way?

In Los Angeles, I’m Lisa Napoli for Marketplace.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.