Louis Martin is the son-in-law of the late Charles E. Clowe,
who purchased Coppertone from family friend Benjamin Green in the early 1950s. Clowe
was a savvy businessman and advertising star who took the product nationally before
selling it to the Plough Company (now Schering-Plough) in 1957. Martin simply wants to
set the record straight on the origins of the icon.
Although he acknowledges that Cheri Brand was the child model for the final painting
used in the Plough Company’s advertising campaign, he says the original
advertisements, featuring the little tanned tush, appeared on Miami bus placards a few
years before Cheri was born. The original paintings were lost in a fire, so Joyce
Ballantyne Brand, Cheri’s mother, was commissioned to re-create the image.
Reading the story as written by his late wife Sophia (literally on the back of one of those
bus ads), Martin reveals that the little Coppertone girl was actually his own daughter
Deborah, Charles Clowe’s granddaughter. She had been running around poolside at the
Clowe home in Coral Gables when her training pants slipped, exposing a pale bottom on
an otherwise tan body.
Deborah’s grandmother remarked to her husband: “Charles, look at that. It’s adorable. I’d
rather see that on a billboard than any sexy girls.”Clowe then added the dog for
advertising appeal, and so the icon was born. Although she never posed for an artist,
and the Coppertone girl’s looks were slightly altered, it was Deborah Clowe who
unwittingly served as the original inspiration. So the story has deeper Miami roots than