Move Over, Pink Cadillac—Mary Kay Is Rewarding Sales Reps With Mini Coopers Now

Careful tweaks to world's most famous corporate incentive program

Mary Kay's 'Career Car Program' has become the stuff of corporate legend.
Mary Kay

Companies incentivizing top performers with flashy perks is nothing new, but there’s probably no company that’s mastered it better than cosmetics empire Mary Kay, and no incentive more famous than the one it bestows to its winningest associates: a showroom-new Cadillac—in pink, of course.

Pink was the color of the Sedan de Ville that Mary Kay Ash bought for herself in 1968, and it became the color of the small fleet of Cadillacs she leased for her top sales reps in 1970, establishing a tradition that’s since become the stuff of American corporate legend.

But even legends sometimes need a little bit of revising. Last week, Mary Kay corporate announced that two new cars would be joining its “Career Car Program,” as it’s known.

The news here? Neither is a Cadillac, and there’s not much pink to be seen, either.

The company will add a Mini four-door hardtop to the mix, in addition to the Chevrolet Traverse 1LT. What’s more, while the Mini will sport two pink racing stripes and pink rearview mirrors, the Chevy will come in a graphite metallic livery—no pink in sight.

The Chevy Equinox in graphite metallic.
Courtesy of Mary Kay Cosmetics

So why is the company seemingly getting away from the gold standard (well, the pink standard) of corporate incentives? Actually, that’s not what’s happening.

As vp of sales Laura Beitler explained, Mary Kay still holds the pink Caddy in utmost reverence, which is why that car is reserved for the very topmost tier of representatives (those who sell north of $102,000 worth of product inside six months.)

However, since it can take years to reach that level—and, indeed, most do not appear to make it—the company decided to build in intermediate-level incentive cars for the simple purpose of motivating the sales reps to keep selling.

The pink Cadillac remains the uppermost reward.
Courtesy of Mary Kay Cosmetics

“When you see a sales force member driving a Mary Kay career car, you know these women are very successful,” Beitler said. “We have cars [that] consultants can earn on the lower level as well. It’s a way of rewarding them and having that symbol of success out in the world.”

In a similar vein, only the Cadillacs are a solid pink (“pearlized pink” is the factory name), with the other makes wearing coats of white and black and much in between.

“As our brand has evolved, we’ve moved into grays and even some smoky charcoals,” Beitler said, adding that all the car colors mirror the hues of the cosmetics’ packaging, so “all are typically within our brand colors.”

“But pink was the color [Mary Kay Ash] identified with,” she said. “And the fact that we added the pink stripe to the Mini is very special and for this promotion only.”

Indeed, this isn’t the first time Mary Kay has offered incentive cars that weren’t pink Cadillacs and, for that matter, weren’t even pink. In 2014, the company added a black BMW 320i to the mix. To reward various levels of achievement, there’s also a Chevy Equinox, a Ford Fusion and a Chevy Cruze, all in varying shades of dark gray.

Mary Kay Ash with one of her Cadillacs.
Courtesy of Mary Kay Cosmetics

Mary Kay Cosmetics is a multilevel marketing company, meaning reps sell products within their own social circles, earning commissions while also recruiting other reps from whose sales they may eventually get a percentage. Since the company thrives within a kind of self-created ecosystem, representatives (“beauty consultants,” as they’re called) don’t just sell products—they subscribe to a broader ethos about self-reliance and entrepreneurial success that was first preached by founder Mary Kay Ash.

Always a gifted salesperson, Ash started her own company in 1963 after watching a male salesman—one she’d trained herself—get promoted over her. From that moment, the Texas native was out to even the score. “I want women to earn money commensurate with men,” she told Morley Safer of 60 Minutes in 1979. “I want them to be paid on the basis of what they have between their ears.” Ash also built rewards big and small into her system. “We praise our people to success,” she said.

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