The Story Behind the Mary Kay Pink Cadillac

Phillip Pessar via Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Phillip Pessar via Flickr // CC BY 2.0 / Phillip Pessar via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Spotting a Mary Kay pink Cadillac is almost as exciting as coming across a rogue Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. The rosy ride is the much-coveted prize a Mary Kay Cosmetics sales consultant receives when she and her team reach $100,000 in sales within a year.

As the story goes, Mary Kay Ash herself arrived at a Lincoln dealership in the late 1960s and asked them to create a custom car to help promote her burgeoning business. “The guy in so many words said, ‘Little lady, go home and get your husband. And when you come back, we’ll get you into that Lincoln,’” said Clayton Webb, Mary Kay’s Vice President of Corporate Communications.

Ash turned to a different dealer—a Cadillac dealer—instead. And when she whipped out a compact and asked them to take a cue from the color of blush inside, they didn’t bat an eyelash. Ash’s custom job matched their archived “Mountain Laurel” tone.

Some of Mary Kay’s sales directors fell in love with their boss’s new ride, and ordered themselves cars to match. That’s when Ash realized the eye-catching car could be powerful, both as a company symbol and as motivation for her growing network of consultants. In 1969, she rewarded her top five sellers with a brand new, blush-colored Cadillac Coupe de Ville. (The consultant isn’t gifted the car outright, by the way—it’s a two-year "Co-op lease" paid for by Mary Kay, and when the two years is up, the consultant can elect to sell the car back to the dealership or purchase it herself.)

The tradition continues today, although the shade of pink has changed over the years, including a pearlescent tint that only looked pink in the right light. If the consultant really isn’t interested in driving a brightly hued car, she (or he—in 2011, for the first time, a male consultant received the keys to a Mary Kay pink Caddy) does have other options. The consultant can opt to take a monthly cash incentive instead, and there are other car color choices for different levels of sales. In past years, consultants whose teams sell $75,000 in six months receive a black BMW, while lower levels can opt for a black Chevy Equinox or a Chevy Cruze.