Tracey Africa Norman on the set for Clairol's new campaign

Clairol hopes to reinvigorate not only sales in the hair color category, but also the career of one of its legendary models. For a new campaign called Nice ‘n Easy “Color as Real as You Are,” Clairol went into its vault, selecting Tracey Africa Norman as the face of the new effort which kicks off in January.

Norman was featured in Essence and Italian Vogue, but also appeared on Clairol’s Born Beautiful boxes for several years in the Seventies.

But there’s a twist. Norman, now 63, is considered one of the first black transgender models — a fact closely guarded until her secret slipped out in the Eighties. Faced with a less tolerant society, Norman’s modeling career came to an abrupt halt. Upon learning about her story in a recent article, Clairol executives knew the time was right to bring her back.

“We heard about Tracey and her work with Clairol, and at that time we were in early planning for our “Color as Real as You Are” campaign. The concept leverages insights from historic work on Clairol highlighting the message women have the right to define beauty on their own terms. “Using hair color is a powerful transformation that lets women express who they are inside,” said Heather Carruthers, global Clairol brand director.

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Norman’s outlook is a perfect complement for hair color. “Hair color can change your whole attitude,” she told WWD. “It can lift your spirit and give you great confidence in yourself.”

In addition to appearing in the national TV and print behind the campaign, Norman is featured in a video delving into her story and her feelings about modeling in the past and today.

Being asked to return was a “great and humbling experience,” according to Norman. “Working back in the Seventies and Eighties, there was no way I would be able to reveal my truth. I would not have booked the jobs I did,” she recalled.

As the company transitions to be part of  Coty’s portfolio, Clairol hopes to reignite the hair color business by bringing in new users and offering solutions for women that have unmet needs, according to Carruthers. “We’ll be taking all of the brand’s history and expertise and infusing it with new life through different perspectives and ways of working.”

According to IRI data for the 52-week period ended May 15, hair color sales were down 1.2 percent to $1.7 billion in multiunit doors. But retailers said they are witnessing a sales revival paced by younger users entering the market.

For Norman, Clairol has opened up opportunities to work as a model again and help pave the way for others. “Hatred causes damage. I was a working model, enjoying life and traveling. Then one day it all came to a stop. The only thing that I was doing was trying to better my life and because of someone’s lack of understanding and direction, my life took a different path,” Norman said. “Now I don’t have to hide behind my truth.”

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