Rita Ora | Rimmel | Stay Matte <a href="www.rimmellondon.com">www.rimmellondon.com</a>
Rita Ora | Rimmel | Stay Matte www.rimmellondon.com
A view from Matt Bennett

The ugly truth about beauty brands

Beauty marketers' rush to embrace the influencer set has left them in a bad place, says the chief creative officer and founder of Zak.

Brands are giving in. Running out of ideas. Remember when some ads would be written by a visionary creative team. Signed off by a bold marketer at the top of her/his game. And a star would star in said ads.The world of brands was full of confidence, swagger, knowing that great ideas were driving the future growth of their respective businesses

Then the balance started to tip...

The noisy clamour for hit and hope celebrity endorsement showed up.

The "you’re nowhere if you’re not getting in Grazia or The Stylist, or the back, the face or in the bag of Mossy, Sadie, Amanda or whoever the latest fash-forward icon/ingenue was and indeed is". Thanks Cool Britannia. For nothing.

Fast forward a decade or two and now we have the divine powers of the non-partisan, go-to bloggers, talentless "sleb" influencers driving the future of some of the most iconic brands that once delivered some of the most iconic work...  I’m distinctly underwhelmed.

Once we had Rimmel and Kate Moss, Guess and Claudia Schiffer, Wonderbra and Eva Herzegovina.

Eva Herzigova 1994 Wonderbra advert

Now we have many of the world’s biggest beauty and fashion brands using the same person to promote their products. There has been a discrete exchange of power. And it’s a mascara smeared, crying shame.

I’m sure Jeffree Star, Shayla and Jaclyn Hill are lovely talented people in their own right (disclaimer – I’m not sure) but they are building their own brands first and foremost.

The cosmetics world has become lazy. It’s forgetting to take its make-up off before it goes to bed... it won’t end well, we all know that.

The audience is beginning to switch off. We’re reaching peak influencer and at the same time bottoming out on real influence. We’re not asking audiences to invest anything in brands, so we’re getting nothing back from them. We’re just showing them stuff.

Under 30s are hardwired to seek out novelty. Always have been. It’s the secret to the success of our entire species, to progress by creating, inventing, experiencing new ideas. But due to the unprecedented technological advancements within this current generation of (let’s call them) young people, novelty is nothing new. They are saturated with new ‘stuff’ every minute of every day on their devices, and new is now nothing new.

Smaller brands like Pat McGrath and Glossier are also creating unmistakeable community-led, independent identities in a sea of safe and same

Novelty as a hard-wired characteristic is manifesting itself differently than any previous generation. It’s being demonstrated as a curiosity to find out more about ‘stuff’, but -  and here’s the problem for brands - only new stuff worthy of investing their time in. Which means brands need meaning. Not just functionality, not just reach, not just endorsement.

Brands are not becoming worthy of curiosity because they are steadily diluting their core values by employing influencers without absolute clarity in their role within the marketing mix. There’s are still some great brands using crowd collaboration and influence well, NYX for example, using all UGC for instore and online tutorials.

Smaller brands like Pat McGrath and Glossier are also creating unmistakeable community-led, independent identities in a sea of safe and same. But what has happened to the big girls and boys in the industry? Where has the emotional bravery gone needed to create a bold, clear idea and maintain it across all platforms, including influencer channels?

Rimmel still has Rita, a perfect post-Cara replacement for Kate in ATL comms, a real signpost for Rimmel’s spiritual home and ownable proposition, London. That’s great, but she’s not being deployed as a weapon of mass distraction, she’s not much more than a cardboard cutout in reception, and one that wears Tezenis undies, Roberto Cavalli and Donna Karan and Moschino threads, smells of CKone and DKNY and wears Superga and Adidas footwear. BTW, well done to Rita Ora for making hay, but as for authentically partnering with brands to create compelling advertising? Nope, not happening. But that’s not her fault.

Marketers are chasing likes and engagement metrics before emotional investment metrics. Creating absent minded views at best, instead of scroll-stopping, genuine curiosity. We should be creating a desire to find out more, building audiences who invest in brands and make a long-lasting relationship.

And to create a long-lasting relationship, we need to create a proposition with real insight at its core, and campaigns that your audience emotionally invest in. Campaigns that spark their curiosity.


Matt Bennett is the chief creative officer and founder of Zak

Lead image: Rita Ora | Rimmel | Stay Matte | Rimmel London