Joseph Campinell

Former L’Oréal USA executive Joseph J. Campinell died on Saturday. The cause was complications from the coronavirus. He was 73 years old.

Campinell retired as president of L’Oréal USA’s Consumer Products Division in 2011. He spent 25 years at the company and is credited with helping to establish brands such as L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline New York, Garnier and SoftSheen Carson into leading players.

He joined in 1986 as vice president of marketing for hair care and hair color, and quickly rose through the ranks. By 2002, he was in charge of the Consumer Products Division, which then consisted of L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline and SoftSheen Carson. Under his watch, L’Oréal Paris became the number-one beauty brand in the U.S.

“Joe Campinell was a beloved member of the L’Oréal community and one of the great architects of L’Oréal USA,” said Frédéric Rozé, executive vice president of L’Oréal Americas. “A natural-born leader, Joe took the Consumer Products Division to new heights during his 25-year career at L’Oréal and made it a market leader in almost every category. As we think of Joe today, we can remember the inspiring leader so thrilled with the hard-earned success of the business and so proud of his teams. On this sad day, we share our gratitude for the time spent with Joe and for the powerful legacy he left behind and express our deepest sympathies to his family.”

Despite his success across all categories, Campinell said at the time of his retirement that one of his proudest business moments was propelling L’Oréal to the top spot in hair color, ahead of then-market leader Clairol, which was owned by Procter & Gamble at the time.

“I was in Paris in a meeting with [former L’Oréal chairman] Lindsay Owen-Jones and we were told we just passed that other competitor,” he said. “The ride was unbelievable and it was a big deal. Those moments are very special when you get that info.”

He also talked about the importance of leaving a legacy, but not in the typical sense. “In the end, you have to ask if you had something to do with leaving good people to run the company well? There was a time here when people [here] were shaky about the business and I said if we can do half as good as the people before us, we will do good. We grew in the double digits a dozen years in a row,” Campinell told WWD.

Campinell engendered fierce loyalty in his team, including protégés like Carol Hamilton, now group president of acquisitions; David Greenberg, who today heads up the Professional Products Division, and Karen Fondu, who retired as president of L’Oréal Paris USA in 2016.

“Everyone talks about his personality, but it’s important to know he was the major foundation of building the L’Oréal Paris brand,” Hamilton told WWD at the time of Campinell’s retirement. “It was a niche brand and now it’s the number-one beauty brand in the world.”

Prior to joining L’Oréal in 1986, Campinell worked at Colgate Palmolive Co. and Chesebrough Ponds. He also at one point started his own beauty brand, Vallee du Loire, a hair-care line of shampoos and conditioners.

He is survived by his wife, Mary; daughter, Melissa Frey; two sons, Eric and Mark, and 10 grandchildren. A service celebrating Campinell’s life will be held in the fall.

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