Ulta Beauty highlights diversity in first work from McCann

'The Possibilities Are Beautiful' replaces former convenience-focused tagline

By Adrianne Pasquarelli. Published on Sep 04, 2018

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Ulta Beauty is going deep on diversity in its new brand makeover. This week, the cosmetics retailer is unveiling its first push from McCann New York, after tapping the agency late last year to handle its creative account. The Bolingbrook, Ill.-based company will now use the tagline "The Possibilities Are Beautiful," which replaces 2015's "All Things Beauty, All in One Place."

New video highlights consumers in a variety of ages, ethnicities, sizes and genders. It begins with the unsurprising setting of a fashion shoot but then quickly moves to other scenarios like a young woman at her military graduation, a young man applying eyeshadow, an artist painting a massive building mural. The vignettes highlight the accomplishments, as much as the beauty, of their subjects. Text in the film reads, "In all the universe, there is nothing more beautiful than possibility." Sara Dunlop of Rattling Stick directed.

"We're redefining how beauty is portrayed," says Shelley Haus, senior VP of brand marketing. "We've always believed in the power of beauty and the thought that beauty can bring to life possibilities in each person." She notes that Ulta has been focused in recent years on improving its services and has seen its membership base grow to nearly 30 million and sales have risen. Late last week, Ulta reported a second-quarter sales increase of 15.4 percent to $1.5 billion, compared with the year-earlier period, as net income rose 30 percent to $148.3 million. Haus says that after building a strong sales foundation, the brand is now in a position to push forth its new marketing message.

Last November, the company tapped McCann for creative and MullenLowe's Mediahub for media following a four-month review. The 28-year-old retailer had worked with Mullen previously on creative.

As Ulta repositions itself, the brand is facing more competition in the beauty category, which has widened to include the likes of mass market retailers such as Walmart and Target. Meanwhile, drugstores are also gaining ground; CVS recently expanded its cosmetics department to include GlamSquad blowouts for consumers and "test and play" stations. Other rivals such as Sephora and Glossier, the growing direct-to-consumer brand, are also experimenting with new products and features.

Haus declined to say how much Ulta is spending on the new campaign, though she did say the company is "investing heavily." Last year, the brand spent $51.1 million on measured media in the U.S., according to Kantar Media. New work will run through December.

The new spot will run as a 60-second, 30-second and 15-second commercial on national TV; a 30-second Spanish version will also air for the first time as Ulta seeks to connect with Latin beauty enthusiasts. Longer videos with the consumers featured in the commercial, including a male makeup artist and a fashion designer, will run online. Haus noted that male beauty lovers are a growing segment of shoppers for Ulta.

Analysts say that Ulta is gaining traction with its loyalty membership program, which adds an edge for the brand. The company has "key competitive advantages including a data-centric loyalty program" wrote Oliver Chen, a retail analyst at Cowen & Co., in a recent research report.

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Sep 04, 2018
McCann New York

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