L’Oreal and Bobbi Brown both came out with non-traditional campaigns to advertise their waterproof Mascaras - which approach worked best?
For decades, the cosmetic industry’s advertising has predictably depicted models and movie stars with perfect skin (and perfect lighting) sharing their beauty “secrets.”
But in two of their latest campaigns, cosmetic giants L’Oreal and Bobbi Brown promoted their new waterproof mascaras with a different approach: Real women, real emotion, and no photoshop.
L’Oreal’s approach was through emotion, showing fully made up women before and after watching a romantic movie with a tragic ending. Bobbie Brown made the case for their long-wear mascara by showcasing women engaged in extreme sports. Which was more effective?
L’Oreal, 195 Minutes of Movie, 162 Minutes of Tears, and 1 Waterproof Mascara
Nivea took 100 Mexican women, gave them a makeover and, to test the effectiveness of L’Oreal’s waterproof mascara, brought them to the cinema to watch one of the most romantic and tragic movies in recent memory: Titanic. From personal experience, we can tell you that by the time Leonardo DiCaprio sinks below the icy waves, nearly every viewer is in tears, and these women were no exception. L’Oreal’s photographers took pictures of the women before and after the movie, and recorded the moviegoers’ reactions throughout the film, to prove the long-lasting power of the brand’s mascara. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house - and there wasn’t a racoon eye either.
Bobbi Brown, Shark Divers, Sky Divers and Everyone in Between
Bobbi Brown’s campaign shows women engaged in extreme sports to prove the effectiveness of their Long-Wear eye collection, hashtag “LongWearLifeProof.” They choose four GoPro sponsored athletes and let them create their own advertising videos which Bobbi Brown compiled into one fast-paced, action-packed video. The snowboarding stunts are impressive, the shark diving and sky diving are terrifying, and the catch phrase “If it lasts in the surf, it will last through life” is inspired.
Concept:Both brands have chosen approaches grounded in the real world, with women who are not models or celebrities, which makes these campaigns stand out against the standard advertising of the beauty industry. But where their approaches diverge is in the types of femininity shown: L’Oreal’s campaign capitalizes on the stereotype of women weeping in romantic movies; Bobbi Brown’s campaign focuses on female athletes pursuing their passions. As Bobbi Brown’s global-communication exec Alexis Rodriguez says: "The idea is if these athletes can use these products and push their limits, it's essentially life-proof for all women.”
Who go it right?
Or, more specifically, which brand spoke most effectively to its target audience?
Let’s take a look at the demographics of both brands’ audiences.
L’Oreal customers (left column) tend to be between the ages of 18-24; more than 70% have incomes under 70k per year, and a large percentage are single (35%).
Bobbi Brown customers (right column) are mostly between the ages of 25-44, just over half are married (51.7%) , and 43.6% of the target earns more than 70k per year.
How does L’Oreal’s advertising appeal to its target audience?
To find out how effectively L’Oreal’s 162 minutes of tears campaign appeals to the brand’s audience, we looked at what other types of content attracts this demographic.
It turns out that “movies” are the most popular media.
L’Oreal’s romantic movie test for its long-lasting waterproof mascara does seem like an exploitation of the gender stereotype of women being more emotional and crying easily. But, the campaign also capitalized on a very real desire of its audience: The emotional release. And, the results were even more powerful since you can see the tears streaming down these women’s faces with not a streak of black in sight.
Opportunities: L’Oreal’s campaign was very effective and brilliantly played upon the likes and desires of its target demotraphic. However, we think their campaign could have been even better if the movie chosen had been different. Titanic, as we saw, has high popularity among the target demographic, but it’s also 18 years old. Everyone knows the boat is going down. Most of that audience had probably already seen the film more than once, and when you’ve seen Leo turn into Di-popsicle a few times, it loses much of its tear-jerking ability. Do the tears in the ad seem a bit forced or less credible as a result? Perhaps.
We think a more recent movie like The Notebook could be an even more effective choice as a credible tear-jerker that is even more popular with the brand’s demographic.
How well does Bobbi Brown’s advertising appeal to its target audience?
Bobbi Brown’s target audience is quite a different deogrpahic than L’Oreal’s. We already know they’re a little older and wealthier, but let’s dig a little deeper.
While sports and athletes aren’t among the main interests of this group (they like sports about as much as the average American, according to the popularity index of 100.6), Fitbit is #1 on the list of favorite electronics brands. While watching sports may not generate much interest, the technologies used with sports do - which could have been a tangible clue for Bobbi Brown’s marketers when they decided to hire four athletes sponsored by GoPro.
After analyzing all these elements together, you may be questioning the sanity of Bobbi Brown’s marketing department. Their target demographic isn’t that interested in sports, particularly watching other people do sports. A campaign featuring extreme sports athletes doesn’t seem to fit very well with Bobbi Brown’s fan base.
CEO and President of Danika Daly Public Relations, Danika Daly, explains her theory on why this campaign works:
"Sharing this footage on social media adds to the personal nature of the stories and of course, with social media people will share, tag their friends and click through for more. It also helps that the athletes involved are popular because it will appeal to their fan base as well.”
This gave us the idea to look at the athletes’ fan bases (which count more than 750,000 likes). We discovered that they are exactly the “weakest” part of the Bobbi Brown’s audience: They are younger, in the 18-24 age range, mostly single, and with an income more concentrated in the range between 40k and 70k per year. In other words - they’re L’Oreal material.
Moreover if we take a look at the favorite cosmetic brands of the fan bases of the four Bobbi Brown athletes, we see that Bobbi Brown is the very last brand on the list and has the least relevance. There isn’t much crossover between the athletes’ fans and Bobbi Brown’s.
Perhaps the purpose of Bobbi Brown’s advertising campaign is not on existing customers, but on attracting potential customers while keeping current customers interested in the new product.
As Bobbi Brown's exec director-global communications said: "The idea is if these athletes can use these products and push their limits, it's essentially life-proof for all women."
Due to its “extreme” conditions, these “tests” rationally prove the long-wear effectiveness of the make-up, whether you’re an athlete or not. At least, that’s the idea.
But there’s an even larger problem with this ad: You can’t see whether the mascara is running or not through a snorkeling mask, skydiver goggles or snow-surfer shades. And there wasn’t a single closeup of the surfer. Who’s to say how well their makeup lasted through these activities?
Which campaign was more effective? Watching women cry buckets over Titanic has our team convinced that L’Oreal is the brand for them - the next time they watch The Notebook.