Byline: Cara Kagan, with contributions from Louise Farr, Los Angeles

NEW YORK — L’Oreal is out to put some wind in its marketing sails with a program based on its sponsorship of The America3 team in the America’s Cup race.
The L’Oreal Cosmetics and Fragrance and Hair Care divisions of Cosmair Inc. are now rolling out riser cards, shelf-talkers and stickers to the 20,000 mass market doors in the U.S.
The purpose is to call attention to Cosmair’s alliance with the team, which is now racing in the waters off San Diego, Calif., against two other squads to win the right to defend the Cup in the finals. This round is scheduled to conclude today and the entire America’s Cup series is due to finish on May 20.
These point-of-purchase materials will be placed on countertop displays, the L’Oreal cosmetics wall and in the hair care section, where L’Oreal hair care products are displayed.
Reaching women in their homes is also part of the marketing strategy. L’Oreal will run a print ad in June issues of women’s magazines featuring three team members and the tagline: “A Woman’s Place Is at the Helm.”
Since February, the company has been running 60-second TV spots of live footage of crew members sandwiched in between two ads for L’Oreal hair care products and color cosmetics products. The ads are slated to run through September.
The liaison is also visible at sea; the company’s logo is plastered all over the ship, which is called the Mighty Mary. It is visible on the bow, spinnaker sail, battle flag and boom cover. It’s also on the crew member’s hats.
The company is reportedly investing more than $3 million to back the team and to nationally advertise its sponsorship, but Cosmair executives declined to discuss the matter.
L’Oreal first linked up with America3 last January. The team’s crew of 29 women represents a first in the 144-year history of the America’s Cup. While there have been women on Cup teams before, America3 assembled the first nearly all-female crew — all except one member, that is. Last week a man, Dave Dellenbaugh, was added to the squad as tactician.
During a post-race reception held last Friday in San Diego, some of the women crew members discussed the mixed feelings about adding a male sailor. The women had finally decided that just as they were making history, so was Dellenbaugh — by being the only man sailing with an all-women team. “That was a good way of handling something that could be potentially depressing,” said Stephanie Armitage-Johnson, a winch grinder.
America3 chairman Bill Koch was looking queasy after his day spent on the water watching the Mighty Mary lose by only 8 seconds to Stars & Stripes, skippered by Cup veteran Dennis Conner. “Every day I get a few more gray hairs and more of an ulcer,” said Koch.
The cocktail chatter about racing and that day’s experience in the open sea gave L’Oreal executives an unusual break from their sheltered routines in the beauty business. John Wendt, senior vice president and general manager of the cosmetics and fragrance division, was apparently so preoccupied with the race that he forgot to put on sunscreen, a product with which he is very familiar.
But he didn’t care, preferring instead to savor the significance of a band of women breaking into a domain long dominated by rich men.
“Whether they win or lose,” Wendt said, “they’ve entered into a world women haven’t been in before.”