Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Re-Think Beauty

i'm not talking about freckles here.

i'm talking about why the big retouched picture with the celebrity will not move mascara. or skin cream.

or anything else attached to the logo on the lower righthand corner.

we are not buying formulas any more.

we want trust and intimacy.

and some fun.

2 weeks' ago, i was interviewing for a job as creative director of major cosmetic company in europe.

before i met with the person at the company, i dragged my huge portfolio up and met with the headhunter. then i was given 4-pages of questions to answer:
which celebrities have i worked with,
how comfortable am i in the world of celebrities,
how many top photographers have i worked with,
how comfortable am i managing their talent,
what are the budgets of the ad campaigns i have worked on, etc. etc.

(needless to say, i cleverly forgot that it was st. patrick's day & the interview took place on 5th ave & 57th st - had to climb police barricades, etc. thus arrived sweaty, disheveled& 15 minutes' late). i rushed through my portfolio like a chipmunk on speed.

i ended my interview by saying, i think the brand has great potential but it is currently dead in the water. no one cares.

on top of that

traditional advertising is not compelling any more.

if you're a big company, you have to do it a little bit - from time to time - so you get to have fun at the shoot and feel glamorous.

but traditional advertising does not get women in the door of shops.

the cosmetics sales floor at bergdorf goodman, saks 5th ave, bloomingdale's, nordstrom are mausoleums.

everyone knows now that if you throw enough money at her, any celebrity or top model will put her face on your product. that doesn't mean she is putting your product on her face.

all those top photographers are learning to churn out the least offensive (or exciting) stuff and no one believes it any more.

i told her i had read a ton of blogs and no one was even talking about her brand, except to say that they were doing nothing.

their last big product breakthrough was a packaging gimmick not a real innovation. and it wasn't reviewed well.

on top of everything else - their communication lacked love and passion.

i said, you need to speak like you LOVE your consumer. you have to love women.

and you need a real PASSION and excitement for your product - it needs to be palpable and electric - it has to INSPIRE.

you have to be offering a woman a bit of fun, an escape, a laugh

and you also have to speak with honesty and accountability.

i've spoken to tons of women about why they are buying beauty products today and the answer is the same. it's word-of-mouth. if a friend tells them the product is incredible, really does what it says it does, they will scrimp and save and go without (and climb barricades) to get it.

i said, look, i'm not a rock star. i'm not interested in going to celebrity parties or hanging out in clubs with photographers.

i'm a real woman, a single mum with three kids who worries about paying her bills, pacifying her exhusbands, getting to work on time, setting a good example for my daughters and buying products that are worth the money i sacrifice.

i'm interested in giving other women a great product, starting a conversation with them, listening to them and making them happy.

we need to stop trying to get the women to come to us.

we have to go to them.

we have to give them something wonderful.

and then they might come back again.

oh - needless to say, i did not get the job.


ashraf said...

I would say there is only one way to reach female consumers in the current climate: make them feel secure. Right now, everyone is anxious. They are buying comfort goods, or no goods... they are looking to be budget wise, and proactive. Most cosmetic advertising continues to use the "you have to have this, because you will be less happy if you don't" theme in their advertising. How hard would it be for them to say, "this product is what you have been looking for"? That being good value, non-destructive, comforting, and NOT a luxury.

Mommy2JL said...

I was really hoping that would end with you getting the job!
Everything you've said about marketing to women is so true (at least for me)
It would be nice if big corporations could recognize that what's mainstream doesn't always work. There's always a better way of doing things -- like listening to women talk about marketing to.. women.. lol

nic @