Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Bare Escentuals Force of Beauty campaign... so near and yet so far

Last night I saw a post on my Facebook feed pop up saying something like “Bare Escentuals is shaking up the beauty industry with its new ad campaign, which set out to find the world's most 'beautiful' women, without seeing any of their faces beforehand; instead choosing ‘beauty’ by real women’s inspiring stories”.

I thought WOW. What a freakin’ great idea. Why the hell didn’t I think of that??!! I love it when beauty brands make truly innovative and brave moves in advertising and marketing, and sadly it doesn’t happen enough.

So I rushed to write a blog post about it and started to research it further. But upon watching the Bare Escentuals Force of Beauty campaign casting video, my heart sank almost instantly. After a promising start to the video, with the statement ‘finding the beauty in a sea of pretty’ (‘yes!’ I was thinking. ‘YES!!’), the video states ‘How We Did It’... and then a woman casually explains; “we started the selection process by sending out a survey to models and actresses...”


WHAT a let down, and what a missed opportunity for Bare Escentuals. Yes, it’s a brave move for a brand to blind-select the faces of their brand based upon personality and inspirational stories and it is definitely a step in the right direction for advertising in the beauty industry. But is there really any risk involved for the brand when the selection process only involves models and actresses?

Yes, Bare Escentuals won’t know what the people representing their brand look like until they have been cast, but they do already know that those people are going to be conventionally pretty; after all, these people are already making a career out of their looks.

Leslie Blodgett, executive chairman for Bare Escentuals, told The New York Times: “Do you know what a huge risk that is? What if all five of them were blonde, blue-eyed and 30?” What, you mean like the bulk of models already representing the beauty industry? Hmm, not such a huge risk, Leslie.

I do applaud the idea, I really do. I think it is a great way to encourage better role models in a celebrity-obsessed society where people are famous for sleeping with their premier league footballer brother-in-law, or for getting kicked off the X Factor for taking drugs (ironically, both of these people I refer to ended up on Celebrity Big Brother this year).

But I wish Bare Escentuals had been truly courageous and opened up the selection process to real women everywhere. Now that would have been brave, bold and inspirational; all the elements that they want their brand to portray.

What do you think?


  1. Great post Jenni! I kinda feel the same way, but after hearing the women's stories I think the message is more about beauty not being confined to just outer beauty. Plus the fact that it's a wider group (not just the blonde, blue eyed). I think it's a step in the right direction (and probably a big step for a beauty advertising campaign). Hopefully the next step may be extending the invite to not just models and actresses?

    But agree - to the average woman like me and you it doesn't feel like that much of a leap!


  2. Thanks so much for your comment Salina! I completely agree with you - as a beauty marketer myself, I know that it is a step in the right direction and a leap in terms of beauty advertising, which is why I do applaud the idea.

    I just thought it was such a shame to come up with such an innovative concept and then not be brave enough to take it all the way! I appreciate that using 'real women' instead of models could potentially be problematic, but I think for truly innovative advertising and marketing in an increasingly social media-led era, you have to embrace this and work with whatever comes your way. And let's face it, it would sure be one hell of campaign that would generate far more column inches!

  3. I've seen other similar reactions to this campaign and I must admit I find them a bit confusing.

    Why would they specially not cast models and actresses, in hopes of representing "real women"? Aren't models and actresses real women as well? They've dedicated themselves to this profession... it seems disenfranchising to ignore their training and skill set.

  4. Hi Jemma, thanks for your reply! While I agree that models are 'real', in beauty industry terms 'real women' refers to women that are not models. In any case, I wouldn't expect Bare Escentuals to exclude models and actresses from their casting, it's just a shame they felt it necessary to exclude 'real' women from the process - it would have been such a positive move for the beauty industry.

  5. Jenni - I completely agree with you! Bare Escentuals should've taken such a huge risk to reap an even bigger reward. Women want to see women who look like them.

    When I first heard of this campaign a couple months ago, I immediately thought of Bobbi Brown's "Pretty Powerful 2.0" ( The faces of the first campaign were real women in Bobbi's life: friends, employees and clients.

    In search of the new "Pretty Powerful" face, the second campaign encouraged women across the U.S. to create a profile including a photo and brief inspirational story. These profiles were then open for vote. The women with the most votes from each region were then placed in a pool to be judged by Bobbi and her team. Although the winner herself wasn't chosen solely by the public, the concept of having real women vote and choose real women to be the face of a brand is an amazing step forward in appealing to the consumer. Let's hope beauty brands continue testing these waters, eventually putting everything in the consumers' hands.

  6. hi Ivellisse, thanks so much for your comment and a big thanks for your reference to the Bobbi Brown campaign - I wasn't aware of it and it sounds fantastic, I will definitely check it out.