If you think of brows when you think of Benefit Cosmetics, know that it’s by design. For the second year in a row, the 46-year-old makeup brand has invested in a brow-focused TikTok campaign timed to National Brow Day.
Benefit chose to go bigger for its second TikTok campaign: It seeded products to 2,100 influencers and paid 17 to promote a hashtag challenge. Its focus was creators who consistently post about beauty and have audiences interested in beauty, such as Emmy Combs and Trevor Barrett. From September 15-29, users who showed off their brows and used the hashtag #BenefitOfBrows were entered to win $15,000 and a year’s worth of brow products. Three winners, chosen based on the creativity of the entries, were announced on National Brow Day, October 2. Another 25 TikTokers won a year’s supply of brow products.
“[TikTok as a] platform is still very new in comparison to the other platforms. We looked at TikTok, as this is where a lot of brand and product discovery is happening right now. It’s a priority platform for brand awareness of Benefit and brows specifically,” Whipple said.
When the brand launched its first TikTok campaign around National Brow Day last year, it took place over the course of three days. Benefit partnered with TikTok as the first beauty brand to create “3D, gamified, branded effects,” said Jenn Whipple, vp of US marketing at Benefit Cosmetics. Essentially, it launched a TikTok effect allowing users to play “brow roulette,” via AR. “The branded effects cycled through some very fun and loud brows: pink flames, pierced brows, unibrow, you name it. It [drove] home our fun DNA and it got a ton of engagement,” Whipple said. Still, the brand learned that while engagement was high, users didn’t necessarily connect the campaign and the experience it offered to Benefit.
“When we’re going on TikTok, and investing at that level and doing such a mass reach campaign, we want to make sure that the user walks away knowing that it’s our brand,” Whipple said.
Rather than tap a new agency, Benefit chose to use a song it had already created with rapper and singer Regan Aliyah in 2020, in connection with the launch of its Micro Filling Pen. “That was our first Tiktok song. We went through a lot of ideation on music, and the song just fit what we were trying to do. So we decided, ‘This has already been used, it’s part of our brand and people are familiar with it.’ And we leaned into that,” Whipple said.
Brands have learned, as they’ve experimented with TikTok campaigns and paid-influencer content, that it’s often best to be less prescriptive and allow creators to do what they do best: create. “We wanted to lean into what makes the platform unique, which is the creator community and the creators, and what they’re doing on the platform, the content they’re creating. That’s what makes TikTok so desirable,” Whipple said.
Though it’s still too soon for Benefit to measure all of its KPIs on the campaign, it saw an impressive amount of user participation. On TikTok, #BenefitOfBrows has 8.2 billion views and the Benefit contest saw over 1,200 entries.
Some of the standouts included Combs (9.1 million TikTok followers), a makeup artist with alopecia. Her video for the Benefit campaign now has over 18 million views. Barrett’s (826,000 TikTok followers) post for the campaign amassed 7.6 million views. In it, he demonstrates two brow looks — one soft, one bold. The post by @ferchugimenez (8 million TikTok followers) garnered 4.9 million.
“We are happy with the results we’ve seen so far,” Whipple said. “We’ve had 41 million video views in the two weeks alone; it exceeded our benchmarks. We reached over 21 million unique users. In addition, we garnered $1 million in EMV [earned media value] across all social platforms.”