Anita Roddick, the hyper-politically correct founder of the Body Shop chain of cosmetics stores, has died. She is being widely lauded as a pioneer in “ethical” and “green” capitalism, which she combined with strident left-wing activism. However, over at Spiked Online, James Heartfield proposes that her more lasting innovation may be in selling something entirely new: a self-conscious lifestyle.
Roddick’s winning formula was to tie the inward focus to broad ethical propositions. The Body Shop’s cosmetics were the first to be marketed as â€˜not tested on animals’ – summoning up a picture of L’Oreal shampoo being drip-fed into some prostrate beagle’s eye. This was the birth of â€˜ethical shopping’ – the idea that, even if you did not feel like getting involved with a big campaign, you could still do something useful just by buying the right things.
And also by promoting the right (in her mind) causes. Yet for all her leftist bluster, Ms. Roddick was a very smart and talented businesswoman. Not only did she successsfully sell a lifestyle, she created and sold a valuable brand: herself. RIP.