Mary Kay loves GM for its eye-popping Cadillacs

Right now, hundreds of thousands of Mary Kay cosmetics sellers are competing for a unique trophy that has distinguished the best among them for nearly 40 years -- the keys to their very own pink Cadillac.

And next month, on a stage in Dallas, a few misty-eyed winners will claim their reward.

The honor of producing the Mary Kay Cadillac has not been lost on General Motors Corp., which through the years has fought to keep the account amid competition from suitors and a slump at its Cadillac brand during the 1980s and 1990s.

But the relationship may be equally important to Mary Kay, whose brand identity has been tied to the luxury car marque from the cosmetic company's earliest days. Rewarding top sellers with, say, a pink Lexus just wouldn't be the same.

While the pink is not so pink anymore and GM is not the same company it was when the program began, the pink Cadillac has endured as the ultimate prize for the Texas makeup purveyor as the company has grown into a global empire.

Along the way, the pink Caddy has also become an American icon, immortalized in songs by Bruce Springsteen and Aretha Franklin, dropped in movies and used as a ride for Barbie. But it is perhaps best known as an unmistakable symbol of the self-made businesswomen.

So, every few months, as it has for years, GM gets the call to build a new batch of big pink sedans. Workers at GM factories in Detroit and Lansing retrieve a special vat of paint marked "OGU," pink Cadillacs roll down the line, sandwiched between white, black and red models, and the tradition continues.