It’s not just beer brands betting big on Super Bowl marketing this year as beauty labels embrace the big game.
E.l.f. Beauty and Fenty Beauty and Olehenriksen are among the beauty brands running Super Bowl campaigns this year. Rather than typical beauty TV commercial fodder showcasing airbrushed perfection, brands are enlisting humor and trending celebrities for their creative marketing campaigns as they take on a space thought of as traditionally male.
On Thursday, E.l.f. Beauty announced that “White Lotus” star Jennifer Coolidge will be starring in its Super Bowl TV commercial that was co-written by the show’s creator, Mike White. A teaser was released on Thursday, while the ad will air during the Super Bowl in the New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, D.C. and San Francisco markets.
“E.l.f. is an entertainment company that also sells makeup and skin care. So we really move ourselves into the cultural dimension, the entertainment dimension, and we ask ourselves consistently, ‘How do we transcend product to create an orbit that people want to be a part of?’” said E.l.f. Beauty CMO Kory Marchisotto.
According to Nielsen, women make up around 47% of the Super Bowl audience. But beauty campaigns have been rare compared to ads for products such as beer and processed food oriented toward male football fans. In 2020, Olay addressed this head-on, sponsoring a Super Bowl ad focused on “making space for women during the big game.”
“It’s definitely not common,” for beauty brands to run ads during the game, said Marchisotto, which she sees as an opportunity for the brand to stand out.
“We’re setting out to break industry norms,” said Liza Suloti, co-founder and chief communications officer of Shadow, the agency that created the campaign. The script was co-written by White and Shadow, and the agency worked with director Maggie Carey to direct the spot in collaboration with director Neal Brennan.
As E.l.f. Beauty’s “springboard for [its] Big Bang entrance into linear TV,” according to Marchisotto, the brand’s campaign leans into humor, unlike traditional mass-market beauty ads emphasizing product performance. The brand will go into 78 national networks post Super Bowl with a series of episodic ads featuring Coolidge.
“We didn’t want to just enter TV. That’s not how E.l.f. operates. The key component for us is finding unexpected ways to enter into new spaces,” she said.
Also adopting humor for marketing surrounding the Super Bowl is skin-care brand Olehenriksen, which created an online-only ad spoofing ‘80s-era beer commercials to showcase its cooling mask.
“The beer commercials of the late ’80s and early ’90s were instantly recognizable by tone and, most importantly, original ASMR. These commercials were energetic, product-driven, effervescent and comical, which fit perfectly for the commercial shoot treatment,” said Christian Meshesha, the video director for Olehenriksen’s LVMH-owned parent company Kendo, which also owns Fenty Beauty.
Fenty Beauty and Savage X Fenty have both been leaning into Rihanna’s upcoming halftime show performance with the release of merch lines. For Fenty Beauty, the brand’s official NFL Game Day collab includes a collection of special-edition lip products and a football-themed makeup sponge. Fenty Beauty hosted parties in Los Angeles and Atlanta to celebrate the launch, while Savage X Fenty held a three-day pop-up in Los Angeles.
This isn’t the first time Fenty Beauty has tapped into Super Bowl-related marketing. The brand launched an online ad spoofing a beer commercial in 2018, releasing an online video ad featuring Saweetie that played on the Budweiser “Wassup” tagline. At the end of the ad, a line said by Saweetie hinted at a possible future performance by Rihanna. Rihanna was indeed asked to perform at the Super Bowl in 2019, but publicly confirmed that she turned down the offer in support of Colin Kaepernick.
Still the most-watched TV event of the year, Super Bowl ad costs have reportedly risen over the years even as the game’s ratings have declined. The cost of an average 30-second TV spot is estimated to be $7 million this year, up from $5 million in 2017. The event had 47 million viewers in 2017 and 38 million in 2022, according to Nielsen. Experts have speculated about the causes of the decline, citing the NFL’s snub of Kaepernick as one possible factor.
The main benefit of airing an ad during the Super Bowl is reaching the “sheer volume of humans that are partaking in this major cultural event of the year,” said Marchisotto, who described it as “the biggest event of the year, where [E.l.f.] could get the most number of eyeballs.”
“If you want to reach the people, you need to go where the people are,” she said.