With Billie Jean King, E.L.F. Takes On Corporate Board Diversity

While E.L.F. Beauty sells most of its products to people born long after Billie Jean King won “the Battle of the Sexes,” that’s not stopping the company from using the legendary athlete in its “Change the Board Game” campaign.

The 80-year-old tennis great pelts midlevel corporate types people with ball after ball, each cheerfully served with a lack-of-diversity fact. Women make up only 27% of U.S. corporate boards, for example. The average U.S. corporate board is 88% white.

E.L.F. cooked up the campaign with Oberland, hoping the effort would raise awareness about the problem and highlight how diversity has helped E.L.F. increase its business success.

The effort also includes a general spot, which highlights the depressing news that corporate boards include more men named Richard, Rich or Dick than “entire groups of underrepresented people. That’s a lot of Dicks, and not enough of everyone else.”



Kory Marchisotto, the company’s chief marketing officer, emailed us about the new campaign.

Marketing Daily: Why launch a campaign like this now?

Kory Marchisotto: Why the E.L.F. not? We believe we have created a different kind of company by disrupting norms, shaping culture and connecting communities through positivity, inclusivity and accessibility. You will find that throughline infused into everything we do. 

We also believe that the inclusivity of our board and executive team has been a driving factor in our extraordinary business results. The diversity of thought helps us make better decisions, foster innovation and expand our market share. And we have the receipts to prove it, including our 20 consecutive quarters of net sales growth.

Marketing Daily: I was stunned to learn that E.L.F. is only one of four U.S. publicly traded companies, out of 4,200, with a board of directors of at least two-thirds women and one-third diverse.

Marchisotto: It’s preposterous!

Marketing Daily: Who are the other three?

Marchisotto: We applaud Knightscope [security camera and robotics], BowFlex [home exercise equipment] and Victoria’s Secret for their commitment to inclusion.

Marketing Daily:
Where are the ads running? And who is the intended audience?

Marchisotto: “Serving the facts with Billie Jean King” is a 360-degree movement, amplified with surround sound across all our owned channels. As more phases of the "Change the Board Game" launch occur, we will broaden our reach with out-of-home and print media. 

Our mission is to educate everyone on why this is so important to fuel the now, and fuel the future -- from shareholders to the next generation of workforce talent.

Marketing Daily: This is risky. There has been a concerted (and disheartening) retreat on corporate DEI efforts. Do you anticipate any pushback from investors -- or anyone?

Marchisotto: We are a company that lives its purpose with consistency. We have a track record of taking meaningful actions across our entire orbit of influence. Our community admires E.L.F.'s willingness to take a stand on important issues, including reproductive rights, racial injustice, supporting the LGBTQ+ community, climate change and more. 

E.L.F. Beauty is an agent of positive change. The more we grow, the greater our potential impact. Our intention is to continue to use our growing platform as a force of good to encourage, inspire and empower. 

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