How Beauty Arrived at the Super Bowl



Beauty is heading to the Big Game.

This year, an increased number of beauty — and a dash of fashion — brands are advertising in the Super Bowl, including cosmetics labels E.l.f. and Nyx Professional Makeup, body care brand Dove and ultra-fast fashion retailer Temu. Also participating is skincare line CeraVe. The brand confirmed its upcoming spots to The New York Times after several online stunts featuring actor Michael Cera as its alleged founder.

The Super Bowl is advertising’s biggest night. Ads aired will be seen by an audience of over 100 million viewers, a particularly valuable opportunity in the streaming era, when few televised events reach even a small fraction of that number. The Oscars, for example, historically considered the televised event with the next largest audience, pulled in just 18.7 million viewers last year.

Super Bowl ads are priced accordingly: This year, running a 30-second national ad in the game costs $7 million. A regional ad, which only airs in select markets, is less expensive.

Typically, these ads are synonymous with beer, food and car brands, such as Cheetos or Budweiser. Usually, the brands that run ads in the game are either backed by massive conglomerates with deep marketing budgets — think Procter & Gamble or Anheuser-Busch, the longtime exclusive alcohol sponsor of the Super Bowl — or are companies whose products are more directly marketed to men.

But recent years have seen an increased number of brands in more female-focused categories, like fashion or beauty, advertise in the game. P&G-owned skincare brand Olay ran ads in 2019 and 2020; its 2020 spot was focused on spotlighting women in STEM. Tangentially fashion related Rakuten, which provides cash back on e-commerce purchases, advertised in 2022 and 2023.

This year, however, marks a decidedly more crowded field when it comes to beauty brands. E.l.f. Is running its first national ad, following its regional spot last year with “White Lotus” star Jennifer Coolidge. Nyx’s ad, while regional, is its first TV ad entirely, let alone Super Bowl ad; it also features mega rapper Cardi B, in a teaser with one of the brand’s signature Duck Plump glosses. Dove is coming back after a 14-year hiatus with a spot highlighting girls’ participation in sports, set to the show tune “It’s a Hard Knock Life” from the musical “Annie.”

It’s a fitting year for more female-focused ads in the Big Game. This season has been a good one for NFL female viewership: In November, TV ratings measurement firm Nielsen reported a 37 percent increase in female spectators of NFL games this season; particularly high among girls between the ages of 12 to 17, a beauty-obsessed demographic, at 53 percent. But it’s not necessarily a burgeoning interest in the sport itself, but rather the attendance of one Taylor Swift at the games of her boyfriend Travis Kelce, a player for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs, of course, will be facing off against the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 11.

“We want to be where our community is,” said Yasmin Dastmalchi, general manager at Nyx Professional Makeup. “At the end of the day, there has been a shift in viewership [in] women watching sports, and [Taylor Swift] has played a key role in that.”

Beauty’s emerging role on advertising’s largest stage is driven by more than just Swift, however. It also represents the industry’s growing power — and how digitally-borne brands are increasingly experimenting with mainstream advertising channels.

“Having an ad in the Super Bowl can be legendary,” said Robert Kolb, professor emeritus in Michigan State University’s advertising department. “It should generate sales, but it can just be remembered as art.”

Why Beauty Makes Sense in the Big Game

For its first Super Bowl ad, in 2023, E.l.f. Highlighted one of its best-selling products, the Power Grip Primer, in a spot starring Jennifer Coolidge, who was coming off a star-making second season of HBO’s “The White Lotus.” Though it was a regional spot, it had an undeniable impact for the brand: The Power Grip Primer went on to become the number-one SKU in mass colour cosmetics last year, according to NielsenIQ data.

That ad was the brand’s first time advertising on television, ever. For a company that launched direct-to-consumer in 2004, and made its name as a boundary-pusher in digital marketing — it was one of the first brands, let alone in beauty, to go viral on TikTok, in 2019 — running a Super Bowl spot seemed decidedly traditional by comparison.

But the Super Bowl’s historical lack of female-focused ads made it an appealing proposition for that reason, said Kory Marchisotto, chief marketing officer at E.l.f. The line was able to go where few beauty brands had gone before. Plus, social media now makes it possible for Super Bowl ads to live beyond the night of the game itself.

This year, it’s running a courtroom-themed spot starring Rick Hoffman and Gina Torres of the series “Suits,” which saw a revival on Netflix this past year, as well as Judge Judy Sheindlin, who is making her branded commercial debut. E.l.f. Ambassador Meghan Trainor also makes an appearance.

L’Oréal-owned Nyx, similarly, is advertising for the first time on television during the Super Bowl, but will also incorporate its more standard fare influencer and social activations alongside the spot itself, plus out-of-home ads and radio.

But despite beauty’s move into the Big Game, the fact that both brands started with a regional spot — where prices vary depending on the market — is evidence of the fact that beauty isn’t perhaps yet fully ready to jump into the Super Bowl. (Though with a nearly $7 million price tag, a desire to test the waters first is, of course, understandable.)

Marchisotto, however, said that the positive response to last year’s ad, both in sales and consumer sentiment, encouraged E.l.f. to go for the full national buy this year — and they hope competitors follow suit.

“The Super Bowl is a lot of food, drink and cars, so when something’s different, like fashion or beauty [ads], it gives you an opportunity to cut through the clutter, to stand out,” said Kolb.



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