Why e.l.f. Beauty New Campaign Cosmetic Criminals is a Marketing Masterpiece

Explore the world of 'cosmetic criminals' as we dive into a blend of beauty and mystery as we uncover Elf Beauty's campaign.

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What do cosmetics and true crime have in common? More than you might think! Picture a world where your favourite cosmetics are at risk of being swiped right from under your nose. Sounds like a job for a detective, right? Well, e.l.f. Beauty took this concept and turned it into a brilliant marketing campaign. Their campaign, “Cosmetic Criminals,” is a true crime parody that shines a light on a common household dilemma – the mysterious disappearance of makeup and skincare products.

Understanding your audience’s biggest problems and frustrations can be a goldmine for creative marketing.

e.l.f. Beauty did just that, using humour and a genre loved by many to connect with their customers on a whole new level.

Stay tuned as we dissect this campaign, exploring how it stands out in the crowded beauty industry and what marketers can learn from its success.

e.l.f. Beauty: A Brand Overview

Founded in 2004, e.l.f. (which stands for Eyes, Lips, Face) started with a mission to provide high-quality, affordable cosmetics to every beauty enthusiast. What set them apart was their commitment to being cruelty-free, a stance they’ve maintained throughout their growth. From humble beginnings with just a few products, e.l.f. has evolved into a cosmetic giant, offering a wide range of products that cater to a diverse audience.

Their marketing strategies have always been as bold and inclusive as their product line. From leveraging social media influencers to iconic collaborations like Jennifer Coolridge’s, e.l.f. has consistently stayed ahead of the curve.

Inspired by an outtake from e.l.f.’s and Jennifer Coolidge’s Big Game commercial shoot when Jennifer was asked what would name her own lipstick if ever given the chance. She jokingly said, “Dirty Pillows” or “Swollen,” and e.l.f. jumped at the chance to collaborate with Jennifer to create a shade of her own.

This context sets the stage for understanding the genius behind their latest campaign, “Cosmetic Criminals.” A campaign that’s not just another advertisement but a testament to e.l.f.’s legacy of connecting with its audience in meaningful, and sometimes unexpected, ways.

The “Cosmetic Criminals” Campaign Unveiled

Imagine a world where your cherished e.l.f. cosmetics are under constant threat of being “pinched” by family and friends. That’s the premise of e.l.f. Beauty’s “Cosmetic Criminals,” a campaign that brilliantly marries makeup with the intrigue of a true crime parody.

This 15-minute documentary, airing on Amazon Freevee and preceding the new “Mean Girls” movie at select AMC locations, is a masterpiece of marketing ingenuity.

Directed by Alex Buono, known for his work on “Documentary Now!” and “Russian Doll,” and starring the talented Niecy Nash-Betts, Nelson Franklin, and Necar Zadegan, this campaign is more than just an ad – it’s an entertainment spectacle.

But it’s not just the star power or the innovative format that makes this campaign shine. It’s the relatability.

Who among us hasn’t experienced the mysterious disappearance of a favourite lipstick or the unexplained depletion of our skincare products?

e.l.f. took this everyday frustration and spun it into a humorous narrative, resonating with audiences far and wide.

Yes, understanding your customers matter, and finding fresh and creative ways to highlight pain points does pay off.

  • It’s not just about selling products; it’s about creating a story that consumers can see themselves in, laugh about, and share with others.
  • This campaign is a prime example of how humour and a strong narrative can elevate a brand’s message from mere advertising to a cultural talking point – aka true crime obsession
  • The choice of a true crime parody, a genre wildly popular with many in e.l.f.’s demographic, speaks to the brand’s keen sense of current trends and audience interests.
A still from e.l.f. satirical short film "Cosmetic Criminals".
A still from e.l.f. satirical short film “Cosmetic Criminals”

The Power of Consumer Insights

This approach to marketing is a refreshing change from the norm. It’s not often that a brand successfully turns a customer pain point into an opportunity for humour and engagement. e.l.f. did just that, and the result was a campaign that was not only entertaining but also deeply relatable.

Firstly, the importance of social listening and customer insights cannot be overstated. e.l.f. turned a common customer complaint into a campaign that resonated with a wide audience. Don’t shy away from tapping into social listening to understand and address your audience’s pain points creatively.

Social media buzz, shares, likes, and comments indicate that the campaign struck the right chord with the audience. By blending humour with a relatable problem, e.l.f. managed to create content that was not just seen but actively engaged with.

Lessons from the Campaign

  • Storytelling is King. The campaign’s success wasn’t just about the product. It was about the story surrounding it. By weaving a narrative that was both engaging and relatable, e.l.f. created a campaign that people remembered and talked about. Remember, in your marketing efforts, the story you tell is as important as the product you sell.
  • Riding the Wave of Trends. e.l.f.’s choice to parody true crime, a genre so hot, shows the value of aligning with current cultural trends. This approach not only captures attention but also ensures relevance especially on social media.
  • The Universal Language. The campaign’s use of humour was a masterstroke in enhancing relatability and shareability. Humour, when used appropriately, can break barriers and forge an emotional connection with your audience. It’s about finding that sweet spot where your brand’s voice and your audience’s preferences meet.
  • Strategically Picking Your Battles. By using social to amplify the campaign, e.l.f. understood where their audience was most active and receptive, thereby maximising the impact of their content. In today’s digital world, where your content lives can be just as critical as the content itself.
  • Listening to Your Audience. At the heart of e.l.f.’s campaign was a simple yet powerful insight from their community. This highlights the invaluable nature of customer feedback in shaping marketing strategies. Tuning into your audience’s conversations can reveal gems of ideas that resonate on a deeper level.

Watch the Mockumentary

So, what’s the big takeaway? It’s simple: Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Whether it’s through humour, storytelling, or tapping into current trends, the key is to connect with your audience in a way that’s authentic and engaging.

It’s a reminder that at the core of every great marketing campaign is a deep understanding of the audience, a touch of creativity, and the courage to try something new.

And before you go, I highly encourage you to watch the “Cosmetic Criminals” campaign video. Can you guess who dunne it?

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