Through its latest flagship campaign launched Tuesday, Ulta Beauty wants to reinforce itself as a retailer making a positive impact.
Dubbed “Beauty&,” the idea is that beauty can be a powerful force for good instead of oppression. Beauty& kicked off across social media, as well as linear and OTT TV, and will run until the end of 2022. It will possibly extend into 2023. Ulta Beauty tapped New York-based artist Timothy Goodman, Chicago muralist Emmy Star Brown, and lawyer and advocate Meena Harris to design three limited-edition T-shirts inspired by the campaign. Each will be available for sale on Ulta.com. In addition, Ulta Beauty announced its first podcast on Tuesday, hosted by Ulta Beauty Pro employee David Lopez. Called “The Beauty Of,” the bi-weekly public podcast focuses on non-traditional beauty concepts like aging, digital representation and ways beauty can be meaningful. Ulta Beauty also made a $200,000 donation to the Jed Foundation, a national non-profit supporting the mental health of teens and young adults.
“Beauty& means to widen the lens of beauty and inspire all of our guests, associates and everyone who might interact with Ulta Beauty to reclaim beauty on their terms,” said Eileen Ziesemer, vp of public relations for Ulta Beauty. “Beauty means something different for every individual. We’re seeing [the relationship between] beauty and mental health, gaming and sports. We wanted to [feature the campaign] in digital and social spaces, where we know people are showcasing themselves the most.”
Karla Davis, vp of Ulta Beauty, said the campaign is informed by the changes consumers have undergone over the last several years. Consumers want brands and companies that stand for something and are looking for brands and products that play a meaningful role in their lives.
The video ads feature advocates and influencers like Elle Snyder, David Lopez, Jamika Martin, Sophia Morales and Zuri Marley, the granddaughter of singer Bob Marley.
“Being in the heart of the beauty community also comes from having cultural relevance and cultural currency. Tapping into tastemakers to help support and build was a big part of the strategy,” said Davis.
In February, Ulta Beauty announced its 2022 diversity, equity and inclusion commitments after kickstarting a major focus in 2021. Among the 2022 commitments, Ulta Beauty said it would launch a brand-partner accelerator program focusing on early-stage BIPOC beauty brands. It will also offer $3.5 million in in-store merchandising to help guests easily identify Black-owned, Black-founded and Black-led brands. Finally, it will expand its quarterly unconscious bias training to distribution centers and corporate associates.
Ulta Beauty has been busy elsewhere, too. In August, the retailer announced a new corporate venture capital firm with a $20 million fund focused on digital innovation within beauty. In May, it appointed a cohort of five beauty executives to its Conscious Beauty advisory council.
Beauty& will appear on all Ulta Beauty social media. The retailer notably partnered with TikTok through its TikTok for Good program. TikTok for Good offers three avenues for organizations and individuals to promote non-profit work and solicit donations via promoted hashtags, analytics insight and account management. Some non-profits can also use a donation sticker on videos.
Davis said that key performance indicators for the campaign’s success include raising awareness for Ulta Beauty as a brand that people can relate to and increasing consideration of purchases from Ulta Beauty. Further, Ulta Beauty will look at how the campaign resonates across ethnicities and generations. Through this campaign, Ulta Beauty aims to boost its relationship with Black consumers, creating 30-second and 50-second ad spots tailored to them. As part of the 2022 DE&I commitments, Ulta Beauty said it will dedicate $2.5 million to Black and Latinx-owned media outlets.
“If we can create a space for [reclaiming beauty], that helps to drive this idea that beauty can be a force for good,” said Davis. “[We hope] it helps to drive individuals forward and push the industry toward having more positive action. We realize how much beauty connects to how we take care of ourselves, how we express ourselves and, ultimately, how we feel about ourselves.”