In order to disrupt the cluttered U.S. beauty market, we took a bold approach to defining the brand platform on behalf of Il Makiage—a popular brand that was born in the 70s in the US and relaunching again here this past summer. Our mission was to identify a brand position that unified its product elements in a way that would help the brand connect with women today. While the market was pushing natural and minimalist makeup application, we realized that some women felt bold, fierce and powerful when they put on their bright red lipstick or dark, smokey eyeshadow. We unearthed that, perhaps, less isn’t more, and that there was room to shake up the industry entirely.
Our breakthrough campaign, “High Maintenance,” encouraged women to express their boldness and confidence through their makeup choices. Despite a limited budget, the campaign generated buzz everywhere it went. It was so unapologetic that Il Makiage tried to submit some of its stand-out, sassy taglines to the MTA to be advertised in the subway to promote the cause. Taglines like, “If you see something say it to someone else,” “Don’t even think about manspreading,” and “It’s not the heatwave down there, it’s me” were all rejected for their provocative messages.
Shot with famed photographer Tony Kelly, the billboards and social posts feature situations where women don’t apologize for their high standards. Throughout the campaign, it was crucial to redefine the once derogatory phrase “high maintenance” and turn it into something positive. And the results speak for themselves: With more than 2M impressions per week immediately after launch, we increased Il Makiage’s Instagram following from just 24 to 24,000 in under two months. An outstanding amount of engagement from our desired audience proved that understanding what the user actually wanted versus banking on industry trends was the key to a successful campaign.
We continued our work with Il Makiage during the holiday season by enlisting Riverdale star Madelaine Petsch to create a series of daring and irreverent shorts running across social and digital. The campaign encourages consumers to embrace maximalism in both their makeup looks and everyday lives and runs through December, with additional content rolling out across Madelaine’s social channels. The series, playfully called “Rules for Behaving at the Annual Holiday Party,” showcases Madelaine doing whatever she wants despite antiquated female etiquette rules that demand, say, dressing modestly or behaving ladylike at the dinner table.