07 Case Study

The Beauty Brand Launch Campaign: A How-To

A Model for a Modern Fragrance Launch, Sans Célébrité


Beauty brand launch campaigns have done it all: inspired, they’ve provoked, even demeaned and put Giselle Bündchen on a surfboard.

The only rule, it seems, is that there are none.

In a market climate of retail fragmentation and disintermediation, beauty brands can no longer follow formula in advertising and marketing.

So when a 180 year-old French fragrance house set on launching a new, global product aimed at a younger consumer approached us, they came prepared to eschew formula. The client sought to execute a global beauty brand launch campaign deliberately omitting a classic advertising centerpiece: the “hook” of the celebrity endorsement.  

This decision carried obvious impact on the creative look and feel, and also demanded novel approaches to paid media strategy given the global nature of this campaign’s scope and aggressive sales goals.

The Challenge

Beauty and fragrance consumer marketing campaigns overwhelmingly have a “face” – a celebrity or model demonstrating the product’s promised outcome, and semiotically, the product’s intended audience. The inherent challenge is that, like beauty or fame itself, brand equity can fade when it’s tied to celebrity endorsement deals that can run their course.

Challenges in this beauty brand launch campaign included:

  • Global consumer-facing fragrance launch
  • Points of distribution: airport retail and in-flight, duty free (which carry measurement challenges).
  • Creative developed by the client in-house intentionally eschewed any celebrity’s likeness.

“How-to” + Insights

  1. Consider Points of Sale and Distribution
    • Duty free shopping environments are a battlefield for shelf-space as well as ad-space. Media planning and buying targeting traveler markets must be multi-pronged, visible and innovative, but success is truly dependent on strategic merchandising at point of sale, particularly for products as trial-based and experiential as fragrance.
    • Consumer product sales measurement traditionally used by CPG brands don’t measure multinational sales in specialized environments well, so it may be necessary to innovate in establishing KPIs to measure successful outcomes, particularly in the short-term launch timeframe.
  2. Who gives your brand voice?
    • Creative used for multinational brand launches generally avoid spoken-word monologue, to avoid the awkwardness of re-dubbing for new languages. A well-done animated character, if brand-appropriate, can demonstrate brand character without the challenges of cross-market casting.
    • On digital media platforms, well-chosen influencers can provide “brand voice” and brand visibility simultaneously. Key to influencer-led strategies is coordination. More on this in the next point.
  3. When? Timing. Is. Everything.
    • Launch media – both paid, owned, and earned, must be intricately orchestrated and timed to push to maximize buzz. Budgets for a beauty brand launch campaign – particulary one with global ambitions – will never be large enough to sacrifice smart planning.
    • In the case shared here, the launch was “phased” market-by-market, focusing on high-visibility event timing to create maximum frequency for our jetset traveler audience who, in the client’s estimation, was a prototypical fashion editor jumping from fashion week to fashion week…


Consumer care brands, and fragrance in particular, need brand visibility. Yet captivating an audience of transient, jetset global travellers in heavily-saturated Duty-Free retail environments isn’t easy. Thinking beyond “fragrance formula” marketing opportunities, we turned to experiential marketing and unconventional traveler media such as target-market taxi TV to encapsulate our traveller audience using robust animated video assets available from the client.

In all, our high-impact consumer marketing tactics “encapsulated” the international traveller in airport, inflight, and key live activations. Just weeks into the launch, the scent’s Parisian-inspired animated figurine would be ubiquitous to its target market of jetset international travelers seeking a signature scent. And word travelled quickly.


Just three months after the fragrance’s international launch, sales topped one million units sold. By end of launch year, the fragrance ranked No. 2 in women’s fragrance sales in the brand’s home market.

In addition, the fragrance’s launch campaign creative received honours including Best Global Advertising (Grand Prix Stratégies), a Marie-Clare Audacity Award, Best Advertising Film (Fifi Awards UK), etc. And, in the ultimate proof of the brand’s commercial success, this single scent launched a range of 10 (and counting!) fragrance “flankers” – one of which won a FiFi award for Best Feminine Fragrance, along with a colour cosmetics range, and collaborations with a French sportswear apparel brand and American leather apparel maker.

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