Boots UK’s new beauty campaign doesn’t need faces to show the joy of make up

This ad features women rollerskating, dancing, and doing cartwheels in a style reminiscent of one of those old sanpro ads where the “blood” still ran blue.

But it’s Ogilvy’s first beauty ad for Boots and it’s actually very forward-thinking. You don’t even see any faces until the final frame, because the message is about how make up makes you feel, rather than how it makes you look.

Make up is often denigrated as a mask to hide behind, or a way for insecure teenage girls to waste hours on YouTube trying to look like Kim Kardashian, but the truth is that it is fun, and it can be an affordable way to make you feel cheerful and ready to face the world.

The people in this Boots spot reflect that. They could be straight out of Ogilvy’s “Real Beauty” campaign for Dove; the six stars cover a diverse range of ages, shapes and abilities, and include male vogue dancer Busola Peters as well as a Boots employee and an influencer known for her problems with adult acne.

It’s directed by Abbie Stephens, and one of the agency’s creative directors, Nicola Wood, is also a woman, as are the two strategists. Droga5 New York’s recent spot for Cover Girl takes a similarly fresh approach to beauty marketing and was also directed by a woman, Kim Gehrig. Here come the girls, at last.

Ogilvy was handed the Boots business without a pitch at the beginning of last year, after US giant Walgreen (a WPP client) bought the company. Mother had worked on the brand for 13 years and it was a split that neither side wanted, but Ogilvy has done well with Boots, proving that a good client can be a good client for any agency.

Helen Normoyle, marketing director for Boots UK and Ireland says: “Our vision for this campaign was to show beauty at its best – as positive and inclusionary. We wanted to honour our history of democratising make up for women – this campaign is merely the beginning of us opening up the conversation around contemporary beauty that needs to be had.”

MAA creative scale: 7

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is the former London Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.
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