For E.L.F., Super Bowl May Offer Game-Changing Awareness

A year after its regional ad was one of the best-performing Super Bowl ads, E.L.F. surprised observers last week with the announcement that it was going all in with a national spot.

The Oakland, California-based company says it is airing a 30-second commercial featuring the $14 Halo Glow Liquid Filter, E.L.F.’s top-selling product of 2023. The ad is directed by Zach Woods, best known as an actor in “Silicon Valley” and “The Office.”

E.L.F.’s news follows an announcement from NYX Professional Brand, owned by L’Oréal, that it will also air an ad during the Big Game.

The beauty blitz is proof that women are becoming an increasingly important part of the NFL audience and that the Super Bowl confers a certain cultural cachet beyond beer and truck ads.

And football’s connection to cosmetics is getting stronger. Last year’s Super Bowl halftime show starred Rihanna, earning a record 121.017 million viewers. The R&B star is also a makeup mogul with her Fenty brand, and halfway through the show, sparked a social media frenzy when she paused to apply a new Fenty lipstick.



“E.L.F. is positioned well to engage with the Super Bowl’s massive global audience,” says Anna Keller, senior beauty and personal care analyst at Mintel. “Every year, the Super Bowl serves as an unparalleled cultural touchstone that delivers unmatched audience potential for brands, and this rings true for beauty brands, too.”

This year, the frequent appearance of megastar Taylor Swift at NFL games has interested an entirely new cohort in the sport. While the NFL says about 47% of its fans are women, Swift’s impact on women in E.L.F.’s target audience is considerable.

The pop star’s appearance at one game this season drove a 53% increase in female viewers aged 12 to 17, a 34% increase in female viewers above 35, and a 24% increase in female viewers aged 18 to 24, reports NBC Sports.

In aggregate, Nielsen reports that hopes of a Swift sighting have meant that in the first seven Monday games this year, football has attracted more than 10 million additional female viewers.

E.L.F.’s rookie appearance in a regional Super Bowl ad last year was a smash. Focused on Power Grip Primer, the ad starred comedian Jennifer Coolidge and was co-written by “The White Lotus” director Mike White. The spot was the brand’s first linear TV commercial and sparked a 64% increase in purchase consideration.

Halo Glow Liquid Filter is already E.L.F.’s top-performing product, and the company claims to sell one every four seconds. The product is also one of the TikTok-driven brand’s most viral items, garnering more than 422 million views on the platform.

“The Super Bowl buy is E.L.F.’s way of signaling that it’s ready to go from viral TikToks to large-scale awareness campaigns,” says Dipanjan Chatterjee, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. “Beauty and personal care is a huge market, and E.L.F. has had good traction, so they want more of it. To get there, it needs to dial up awareness, and the Super Bowl gives it that.”

As he points out in an email to Marketing Daily, “there is a long history of small brands with the wind of D2C guerilla marketing beneath their wings looking to soar into the mainstream with Super Bowl ads,” including such brands as Bai and Casper.

“To get the most bang out of the very many bucks a Super Bowl ad costs, E.L.F. is wisely planning to weave in multiple pop culture touchpoints, like a slew of Mean Girls-based campaigns.”

With their ability to deliver broad reach and high engagement levels, Super Bowl spots “give brands the opportunity to build deeper brand recognition, especially as shoppers are more likely to remember creative and entertaining ads,” Keller tells Marketing Daily in an email. “The benefits of a successful campaign are enormous, especially if the brand is able to harness any social media momentum to maximize the reach and impact of such an expensive investment.”

But there are plenty of risks, even beyond blowing the $7 million price tag. The wrong creative can alienate potential buyers, souring them on the brand.

It’s got to be the right kind of spot, with “messaging that connects with its targeted audience while feeling authentic and true to the brand,” she says. “If the beauty brand positions female celebrities as powerful and impactful, it can align with the current trend of eliminating gendered roles and stereotypes, a theme well-received in recent Super Bowl ads.”

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