Ever wanted to look inside Rachel Ray’s cupboard, or Martha Stewart’s linen closet? That’s the same feeling we got when we asked Jane Harrington, color styling expert for PPG Industries’ automotive coatings business, to show us her personal car. Harrington is responsible for creating, planning and managing PPG’s annual global color show that highlights new color creations and the latest technical advancements to automakers as they select and develop colors that enhance the brand identity and image of their cars.
Harrington began her automotive career in 1983 at PPG as a sales trainee and during her 23 years at the company has held various positions of increasing responsibility in color development and styling. The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire graduate enjoys drawing, painting and volunteering at a horseback riding center for the handicapped.
No doubt Jane takes her time picking the right color horse.
What are you seeing as the latest color trends and developments in transportation coatings and styling?
JH: Even though Black, White, Silver and Gray make up over 57% of current color popularity for North America there is a lot of diversity in these core colors with metallic, pearl and high sparkle appearance effects. Blue is a color that is liked globally, and it has become an important color for the hybrid market. I am starting to see more colors developed in the gold, orange and brown range in North America. With most of the OEMs reducing the number of brands they offer, color will become more focused for each brand. Based on our most recent color popularity data, the color green runs at 2–4% of popularity depending on the vehicle segment. Bright yellow shade greens were featured at many of the key auto shows this year. Due to green’s connection to nature, auto show exposure and today’s consumer being more environmentally aware, PPG expects this color range will grow in the next few model years.
Tell us about PPG’s emerging pigment technologies that create new and interesting color effects.
JH: We have a nanotechnology called Andaro which increases the depth and chroma of a color. Designing new paint finishes with higher color saturation will differentiate vehicles in the competitive marketplace.
Another interesting color effect we are noting is the interest in high sparkle colors. We are experimenting with different glass flake pigments to create added sparkle and luminosity in automotive colors.
Your recent ‘Automotive Color Trend Show’ talked about PPG gaining insights from other color- and coatings-oriented businesses, such as architectural, appliances, electronics and other products. How does that research help PPG?
JH: For the automotive market we have to forecast out colors 3 years ahead of the current calendar year due to the OEM timing process. Having PPG internal knowledge on what colors are becoming popular in other markets helps to target color trends consumers are getting used to. For example, in the residential market, brighter more dramatic color schemes are replacing cream and beige wall colors. On the interiors of new hotels and restaurant this is also a trend. For major home appliances, some consumers are choosing red, orange and blue washers and dryers. That helps support the idea that consumers are getting interested in expanding thei color choice selection.
What color is the car you drive, and why did you pick it?
JH: I drive a 2010 Ford Fusion that is Atlantis Green— a very dark almost black metallic green. I choose the color since I like green and it is a color PPG styled for Ford.
Name a recent book you’ve read that you would recommend to a colleague.
JH: I recently read Where the Sucker’s Moon by Randall Rothenberg. It provides behind-the-scenes insights to Subaru’s marketing and advertising campaign.