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Making the Most of Marketing: Beauty Brands with Stand-Out Campaigns

Published September 14, 2023
Published September 14, 2023
Elizabeth Arden

Today, the global marketing industry is worth an astounding $531 billion, with brands investing 6%-14% of their total annual revenue towards advertising. No matter how great a product or brand is, if it's not marketed correctly, companies risk being swept under the carpet of today's saturated beauty industry. To stand out from the crowd, businesses need to stay authentic to the morals of their branding while appealing to the target customer. For a select few, marketing comes naturally and is always a success. Focusing on the brands providing the best campaigns, BeautyMatter rounds up the industry’s recent commendable marketing moments.

I Am Proud: The Gen Z–loved brand hosts two main sub-brands, Skin Proud and Hair Proud. After research found that brand mascots allow for a 41% deeper connection with consumers, I Am Proud introduced its own mascot, Sami the Duck. According to the brand, Sami was created to strengthen the commitment to the I Am Proud consumer by championing the brand's core values of inclusivity, self-expression, and promoting positivity. Sami helps many members of the Gen Z community feel seen, with they/them pronouns implemented to encourage respectful use of a person's preferre pronouns.

The mascot was initially unveiled as a hair/body scrub brush when Body Proud debuted and has since gone on to be transformed into a large mascot costume, which can often be spotted on the brand's social media, including Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn. Content involving Sami relates to the humor and hobbies of Gen Z, as they are often seen jumping on TikTok to attempt the latest dance trend, going on holiday with colleagues, attending work drinks, and hosting vox pops in locations popular with the target consumer such as Carnaby Street in London. So far, Sami the Duck’s content has amassed 1.5 million views across social platforms, with over 40,000 acts of engagement across likes, comments, and shares, with a 6% engagement rate and a 500% increase in views.

"At I Am Proud, we are proud to tap into the power of a brand mascot with the introduction of Sami. Sami's empowering presence will strengthen our connection to Gen Z consumers and community built on our core brand values of inclusivity, self-expression, and positivity. With the introduction of Sami, we are aiming to increase brand engagement by giving our brand a personality and injecting a little humor, which we are sure our consumers and community will appreciate. We long know that engaged communities often increase loyalty, and loyalty contributes to the commercial success of the brand," says Nora Zukauskaite, Global Marketing Director at I Am Proud.

Elizabeth Arden: In celebration of the Chinese summer holidays and the second Hainan Offshore Duty-Free Shopping Festival, Elizabeth Arden hosted an island-wide Travel with Arden campaign across the province of Hainan. The campaign was created in collaboration with Parisian illustrator Marie Assenat, who made quirky and fun animations that decorated the multiple outlets including a bus and a plane’s interior.

In collaboration with the China Duty-Free Group, the Elizabeth Arden Holiday Bus made stops at CDF Sanya International Duty-Free Shopping Complex, CDF Haikou International Duty-Free Shopping Complex, Crowne Plaza Sanya Haitang Bay Resort, and popular tourist destination Wuzhizhou Island Wharf. Onboard the bus, customers were able to virtually tour NYC at night, ski at the Swiss Alps, sunbathe at Hainan beach resort, and dance in the Amsterdam tulip fields through interactive screens. Animated play buttons onboard allowed the attendees to learn exclusive beauty tips with Elizabeth Arden products in various scenarios: nighttime, wintertime, summertime, and springtime.

There was also an opportunity to use Elizabeth Arden's travel essentials from a product wallet, after which a QR code to the CDF preorder app was provided, allowing exclusive access to ordering new products. After sharing images of the campaign to social media, visitors were able to collect a souvenir destination stamp in a collectible notebook similarly themed to the activation. When the bus reached Haikou Mova Mall, souvenir magnets were also provided as a token of appreciation. In addition to the travel bus, Elizabeth Arden chartered a flight from Shanghai Hongqiao to Hainan, surprising customers with an aircraft decorated with Assenat's illustrations, giving every person onboard souvenirs and inflight activities.

Yumie Chia, General Manager of Elizabeth Arden Asia Pacific Travel Retail, comments, "Elizabeth Arden conducts a Travel with Arden campaign almost yearly. This year's campaign aims to bring more fun and laughter to our customers. Duty-free shopping should be a happy activity, and our creative twist of retailtainment is targeted to bring more smiles and happy memories, thereby enabling customers to forge a closer relationship with our brand."

Billie: The feminist-minded razor brand decided to take a satirical approach with its latest marketing campaign, a board game titled No Worries If Not. Emphasizing the idea that many women feel life is a game they just can't win, No Worries If Not was designed by Little Troop Creative Agency to look cartoon-like and fun, while focusing on real-life setbacks and pitfalls that women encounter daily.

The game invites its players to navigate a set of Snakes and Ladders–style roads, making stops at notable destinations including Judgement Junction, Self-Doubt Spiral, Fertility Forest, and You Look Tired Triangle, all while on the way to the final destination of Everyone's Happy No One's Mad Land (which the promotional video suggests almost every woman will struggle to reach). In the video directed by Luca Venter, comedian Ruby McCollinster is seen in an '80s-style setting, wearing a "David Byrne Big Suit" (an oversized suit with large shoulder pads) created by stylist Zoey Radford Scott. The video set, created by Sensitive Studio, takes aspects from the game, including a Bottle of Eternal Youth, a Biological Clock, and a Never-Ending To-Do List. McCollinster walks around this life-sized version of the game, sarcastically attempting to win, pushing the narrative that it will be almost impossible to win with everything being asked of her.

The game was created to align with Billie's message that women should approach life as they please, as it's often impossible to please everyone. Billie usually approaches this narrative through its products, acknowledging that although it sells razors, body hair, and what is done with it, is a woman's choice to make. Proceeds from the sale of the game will be donated to women-led organizations, hoping to make a difference in the everyday lives of women globally.

Hally x Too Faced: The clean hair color brand Hally partnered with cosmetics company Too Faced to present a college bus tour. Making stops at universities and colleges nationwide, including the University of Texas, University of Arkansas, and Ole Miss, the bus was positioned to be present for the August/September back-to-school rush, as well as turning up at events such as sorority parties, concerts, NCAA games, and shopping days. The mobile vehicle was decorated to align with both brands' fun and colorful aesthetics, which engage their Gen Z target audiences, with decor including cloud-shaped mirrors that made for the perfect Instagram opportunity. Onboard the bus, visitors were able to take part in games, including claw grab machines, mini makeovers and top-ups, giveaways, and product sampling.

In addition to visiting campuses, the bus headed to the Hamptons to conclude the summer season, hosting shopping events at various Ulta and LoveShackFancy boutiques across the country. During these visits, a range of promotional activities were implemented, including the College Insider Program, whereby student ambassadors received kits of Too Faced and Hally products with tips to encourage content creation using the offerings.

"Too Faced is all about meeting our customer where she is, and we know that so many of our biggest fans are Gen Z college students who not only love our products but love sharing their beauty tips, tricks, and makeup routines with their communities on their social platforms. Partnering with Hally to bring Too Faced directly to these hyper-engaged customers is a new and exciting way for us to connect with our audience," says Tara Simon, Global Brand President at Too Faced.

Murad: The science-backed skincare brand launched its first-ever out-of-home marketing campaign, named Not Your Ordinary Serums, which debuted in Times Square and could also be seen on over 30 guerrilla wild postings across LA. The marketing activation was created to educate consumers and emphasize the point of difference in Murad serums compared to others on the market—not just one ingredient or active, but several uniquely crafted to address skin concerns and improve overall health. Each poster included high-praise quotes from various respected publications, including Marie Clare, reading statements like "A mini facelift in a bottle" and "This retinol formula works shockingly fast."

Each billboard hadQR codes which, when scanned, took visitors to, where they could play "Not Your Ordinary Match," a periodic table–inspired game that enabled the chance to make a match and win three different levels of prizes. These included 25% off online at Murad and a one-year supply of the brand's best-selling Retinol product, and every player was automatically entered for a chance to win a grand prize of $2K total in flight credits and a carry-on packed with Murad must-haves for the winner and a friend of choice.

In addition to the offline marketing presentations, Murad has paid media for the campaign running across Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and YouTube, email support, and influencer content creator videos, as well as connected TV ads. The campaign is also published across streaming services such as Hulu, Peacock, Disney+ and Discovery+.

Dove: Having championed realistic beauty standards through its Real Beauty campaigns for 20 years, Dove has launched its latest campaign, #Freethepits. The marketing effort focuses on normalizing body hair and underarm appearance, hoping to encourage women to feel confident with their shaving regime (if any). The campaign comes after research found that seven in 10 young girls say they would be less likely to post on social media if they feel bad about their underarms, and six in 10 women judge other women for their armpits. The marketing initiative has debuted just in time for NYFW, hoping to capture the attention of people attending shows. It hosts a range of images decorating the NY subway of women grabbing the bars of the train and flaunting their underarms. The advertisements are present at Times Square, Herald Square, 14th St., and 8th Avenue, taking over the entirety of the available ad space in several locations.

"We did a study last year and found that almost eight in ten women don't believe that their armpits look, feel, or sweat like the ideal armpit," says Pranav Chandan, US Head of Deodorants for Unilever. "There's no reason for people to be insecure about their underarms, and we wanted to bring that to light. Some women told us that they don't even like to reach up to grab the bars in subways or hail a cab because of their armpits. We asked ourselves, 'How do we intercept women in a very contextual, relevant environment with messages of empowerment?' And this is an opportunity to be a bit more provocative."

Alongside the visual advertisements, Dove hosted a "Pit Stop" activation at Chelsea Plaza, giving away free deodorant samples and Metro Cards for two free rides.

A few clear patterns emerge across the examples. These days, many marketing campaigns follow the trend of having a cause beyond promoting the brand. As shown by I Am Proud's gender-inclusive introduction of Sami the Duck, Dove’s insecurity busting #Freethepits, and Billie’s board game in aid of female empowerment, successful marketing is all that much sweeter when it benefits the consumer beyond the product. At a time when 70% of consumers believe it's important for brands to take a public stand on social issues, these campaigns not only make sense for many brands' ethos, but also pave the way for a new angle of brand-to-consumer engagement.


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