An avid watcher of makeup tutorials on YouTube from UK vloggers, I wind up watching a lot of beauty adverts before my actual selected video begins. As a result, I have noticed the trend of inclusion cropping up from high end to high street beauty brands and the latest to catch my eye is the L’Oréal Paris All Worth It campaign in partnership with the Prince’s Trust. From including men to people of colour and YouTubers, L’Oréal is taking inclusivity up a few notches and covering more ground in one go than any of the other brands have done as of yet. This type of trend in advertising begs the question: are beauty brands just being trendy to make sales, or is this an authentic connection between brand and consumer?
There are a lot of really important, trailblazing aspects to this campaign that I am 100% here for, like the fact that L’Oreal has one-on-one interviews with the campaign stars to have them each explain what they’ve had to overcome to get to where they are today and get past their self-doubt. The message of the campaign is overcoming adversity and in selecting people who have done that in either obvious or hidden ways comes as a smart move for the beauty brand. The overarching message is linked to mental health and L’Oreal is going beyond physical appearances and getting into the deeper layers of where self-confidence comes from. I think this series and campaign in general do well to remind people that we’re all different and we are more than our physical appearances.
However, it must also be noted that the campaign is coming from a beauty company, so messages like this can get lost when viewers know that L’Oreal is selling products that directly contradict their messages. While this is a campaign done in partnership with the Prince’s Trust, it is important that the focus be on the work that will be done alongside the Trust, but I do find it strange that L’Oréal never once mentions its products. This is a marketing move designed to bring good PR for a brand because next time you go to your local Boots and wonder whether or not you’re going to buy a mascara from L’Oréal or Maybelline, L’Oreal are hoping you’ll remember how philanthropic they are and wind up choosing them. It’s all about keeping the brand in the back of your mind with a positive association so that you somehow wind up making a purchase that benefits the brand.
The campaign has a lot going on in terms of transcendence, with differences in skin tone, background and ethnicity playing a large role in promoting self-worth. The campaign features YouTubers and bloggers, musicians, presenters, athletes and is headed by actress Helen Mirren. L’Oréal breaks from what has long been considered the norm in Western beauty advertising by highlighting the differences and stories that come from campaign stars like YouTuber Amena in a hijab alongside Jordan Bone who discusses her quadriplegia. It also features Katie Piper, a TV presenter who had sulphuric acid thrown in her face. These are not the typical women with perfect hair and skin wearing bold colours on their lids and lips, these are women who are fronting a campaign in ways that promote their beauty rather than brush it aside.
Yes, the campaign does well to bring about the idea of beauty and self-worth across a wide spectrum of what may be considered flaws or falling outside the Western beauty ideal, but what is L’Oréal really doing? Studying advertising and PR have led me to be far more critical of campaigns, rather than just passively consuming them and as much as I like the overarching themes in this campaign and the fact that its partnership with the Prince’s Trust to provide confidence and professional skills to 10,000 young people over 10 years, I am also trying to understand the brand’s motives. Cheryl and Helen have been working with the Prince’s Trust for years, and the rest of the cast have positive, motivational backgrounds, so I do not doubt the campaign’s credibility. It is important that we see ourselves represented in the media, whether that be someone with our same skin tone or someone who has faced great adversity, so I ask that brands continue to feature these people, but stray away from exploiting our differences for their gain. L’Oréal can get away from the trend of marketing inclusivity because of its partnership with the Prince’s Trust and the fact that the beauty brand now has a way of connecting its products to its messages, but as the campaign is still quite new, only time will tell how audiences and consumers perceive the brand in the long run.