With Sticky Jennifer Coolidge, E.L.F. Scores With Super Bowl

E.L.F. Beauty may be the least likely candidate for a Super Bowl buy, but the cosmetic brand dove in, leveraging two viral trends to make a Big-Game splash. Chief brand officer Laurie Lam tells D2C Insider how its surprising Jennifer Coolidge ad came to be -- and how the Oakland, California-based brand pulled it off in just three weeks.

D2C Insider: This is surprising in many ways. E.L.F. is known as Gen Z's favorite brand, and that's not the stereotypical Super Bowl audience. Why advertise during the game?

Laurie Lam: It came from our community. We launched the Power Grip Primer in December 2021, so it's relatively new. But it's become a viral hit for us, with more than 70 million TikTok views. And the love affair that our fans have with it is so strong that it's not only our best-selling primer, but also made primers our No. 1 category. Right now, it's the No. 2 SKU  across the entire U.S. mass cosmetics market. And our community has so many nicknames for it: Sticky AF, Face Glue, Little Green Machine.

Then Jennifer Coolidge is a sticky star, and she's having her viral moment. Then we got Mike White, creator of "White Lotus," to co-write the script, working with Shadow, our agency. So we had this whole sticky theme, and the Super Bowl -- a sticky event -- was the best way to amplify it.

D2C Insider: And the product is cheap, too? $10, right?

Lam: Yes, which compares to about $36 for a prestige product. We don't define it as cheap, but an exceptional value. Our community often describes us as having "mic-drop prices."

D2C Insider: Coolidge is hysterical -- especially her dolphin imitation. She is also in her 60s, much older than your target demo. Are you trying to find a new audience?

Lam:  Yes, absolutely. We wanted to open the aperture to introduce Power Grip Primer to a much larger audience. And our base is pretty evenly spread, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. We're a very elastic brand.

Coolidge's age matters less than that she is iconic. Someone recently called her the new Betty White. She extends across all generations.

D2C Insider: What about gender? Football tends to skew male.

Lam: Yes, but 47% of viewers are female. And with Rihanna in the halftime show, we knew our community would watch closely. And with 100 million people or so tuning in, cosmetics should be there. Why does the Super Bowl have to be only cars and insurance? The game is part of pop culture, and we're a pop culture brand.

D2C Insider: Speaking of Rihanna, who stopped mid-performance to check her make-up -- she's a competitor with her Fenty Beauty. Was that a consideration?

Lam: No. We're a brand that we feel transcends beauty. We're here to lift other brands as well.

D2C Insider:
E.L.F. considers itself a marketing disrupter, moving quickly. How fast did this happen?

Lam: We pulled the whole thing off -- from concept to shoot day to delivering the assets to Fox -- in three weeks. I think most brands would spend ten months to a year on this. We're not just moving at the speed of culture, we're actually shaping culture.

D2C Insider: How did the media buy work?

Lam: The ad aired in 10 markets, streaming for all on Fox. And with the ripple effect, it will now air on 78 national networks, including Lifetime, BET, Bravo, MTV and TBS. We will reach women who are beauty enthusiasts between the ages of 18 and 34.

D2C Insider: What are your goals, and how will you know if it was worth the investment?

Lam: Our mantra has always been to go where our community is, to go where the chatter is. This is another way to reach our community as authentically as possible.

We surpassed our goals the day we released the teaser, in terms of impressions. In the past, we had done a campaign with Dunkin' that got 4 billion impressions and another with Chipotle that got 5 billion. With this one, we passed 10 billion impressions in the first 24 hours -- it's bananas. And on release of the ad, traffic to our site tripled. The primer page was the most visited page within minutes of the ad dropping.

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