Essence’s latest TikTok campaign is an investment in longer-form content. Developed with the creative agency Movers + Shakers, the campaign is multi-faceted, with its centerpiece being an IRL awards show in Los Angeles, which will be recorded and mined for content for Essence’s TikTok page, which has 2.2 million followers. It is not the first time the makeup company has teamed up with the agency — Essence tapped Movers + Shakers for its first TikTok campaign in January 2022.
Privately-held Essence does not disclose its finances, but Jill Krakowski, chief marketing officer for the brand’s parent company, Cosnova, said the brand has “had a couple of extremely successful years and is growing like crazy.” While it has high brand awareness on TikTok, in comparison to competitors like Nyx and Elf Cosmetics, Essence has limited distribution in the U.S., Krakowski said. As such, the primary goal of this campaign is not to push a particular product or even boost sales, but rather to continue to boost the brand’s U.S. awareness. Cosnova is German, and Essence is “the No. 1 value brand in Europe,” Krakowski said.
Essence Makeup and Movers + Shakers have dubbed the awards the “Effortful Makeup Awards,” a nod at recognizing that people put work into their makeup looks — the awards are meant to celebrate that. “Even if you have a no-makeup, makeup, look, it [still requires] a lot of work,” Krakowski said. The concept is in direct opposition to the philosophy that has ruled the beauty conversation since the advent of Glossier in 2014 — that the best makeup is barely noticeable and, of course, effortless.
Creator Daus Mendoza (3.5 million TikTok followers) introduced Essence’s concept of “effortful makeup” in a TikTok posted in late August. In the video, he shared the campaign’s tagline, “Effort is the essence of the makeup.”
For the September 28 awards show, Essence’s team chose six nominees in three categories: Lash Royalty, Extreme Shine and Radiant Glow. They focused on L.A.-based micro-influencers with followers ranging from 45,000-350,000. The creators had previously engaged with Essence, Krakowski said.
On September 14 or 15, the nominees announced their participation in the awards and the idea behind them. They also created the looks, using Essence products, that their audience could vote on. Essence paid them for the creation of this content. In her post, Marissa Contreras (@asapmarissa, 89,000 followers), a nominee for the Lash Royalty Award, says, “Society wants women to look effortless, but makeup takes effort and it’s fun, and it should be.” Voting will take place in the comments of the videos, but also through a TikTok voting feature that’s available to brands via TikTok paid ads.
The content created at the awards show will start to hit TikTok and Instagram around mid-October, Krakowski said. “Movers + Shakers [told us] that long-form content on TikTok is starting to have more of a moment, not just short. [They said that] if you can create something super engaging, people will stay and watch.” The exact length of the content that the brand will post has not been determined, but Sokol estimated that the clips will be around a minute and a half long.
“There’s an opportunity to engage consumers for longer than 30 seconds on TikTok, [especially] for a community like Essence’s, [where] fans are loyal,” said Alexis Sokol, account director at Movers + Shakers. “It’s a new way to use the platform that people haven’t seen.”
Essence declined to comment on the investment in the campaign, but Krakowski said it’s the brand’s largest U.S. campaign to date. To further promote the campaign, the brand will also send out around 1,000 boxes of “best of Essence” products to influencers and enlist bigger influencers to create content around these hero products. The products include the Lash Princess Mascara, Pure Nude Highlighter and Extreme Shine Volume Lip Gloss.