The theme of this year’s Tinuiti Live, held virtually and in person in New York City on May 4, 2023, was: Questioning your way to clarity. The day’s dozen-plus sessions explored the concept of how asking the right questions can lead to the most important answers and solutions across paid social, streaming, Amazon and beyond.
In this post, we’ll delve into one of the most memorable sessions of the day, packed with valuable giveaways for brands of all sizes ready to dream big…
Keep the Elf Up. How did Gen Z’s favorite beauty brand take a big idea into the Big Game in 3 elf weeks?
Whether you’re running 20 miles in a marathon, passing the bar exam, or landing your first Prime Time ad during the Big Game, there have been countless hours of hard work that have gone into making that moment possible.
Elf Beauty Tinuiti Live session, CMO Corey Marchisotto Attendees were treated to moments from elf Cosmetics’ ~20 year journey from being a startup online beauty brand to the #1 SKU in mass cosmetics…with some help from the one and only Jennifer Coolidge.
A huge year for Elf Beauty!
elf Beauty has enjoyed an action-packed journey full of hard work, innovative talent, strategic partnerships and more to get to where they are today, with recent achievements including;
- elf Beauty has experienced 16 consecutive quarters of net sales growth
- elf Beauty is almost 5x their industry
- elf Beauty hit the #1 SKU in mass cosmetics with their beloved (and Jennifer Coolidge-approved) elf Power Grip Primer. This is especially monumental because the top spots have historically been occupied by a mascara whose primer has never reached the #1 position.
- elf Beauty created and launched the Big Game ad in just 3 weeks, making it into Prime Time for the first time in the company’s history.
But how they did it
How Elf Beauty Put It to Work
“What do I want to do today? [is] feeding you the tools you need on your infinite journey to make the impossible possible, because if you believe you can, you will. This is no accident by any stretch of the imagination. it’s calculated, and it’s calibrated, and it starts with our ethos. Everything you do is a reflection of who you are—your mission, your vision, your values—so it all starts with us watering those roots every day.”
Elf Beauty’s roots date back to 2004 when they disrupted the beauty industry by offering premium quality cosmetics online for just $1. At that time, elf faced three main obstacles in this business model.
- Others thought it was impossible to sell premium cosmetics at such a low price
- Buying color cosmetics online was still considered something not many people would do
- Others believed that even if the first two concerns were overcome, profitability was impossible
Nearly 20 years later, Elf has more than proved the doubters wrong, watering down the roots of their disruptive nature in everything, calling themselves a “19-year-old startup with a penchant for action” that is “big enough to do big things.” , but small enough to be nimble.”
Marchisotto notes that the most important thing is to truly believe that anything is possible. As for what powers those possibilities, it’s something he calls the “Power of Accretion.”
The power of activation. Four repeatable steps to success
“The power of activation is about things growing over time. this is how planets are formed. It is the coming together, and most importantly the cohesion of matter, under the influence of gravity to form larger bodies.”
It’s crucial to keep track of what your target audience is most interested in at any given time, and use that knowledge to always create relevant content.
Marchisotto shared a story where an elf had to act quickly after a Christmas campaign was canceled two weeks before its scheduled launch. Their team had to move at elf speed to create a replacement campaign, and looked to their audience for ideas and inspiration on what and how to…
- At the time, their newest viral sensation product was the Halo Glow Liquid Filter. There was a long waiting list of 80,000 people who were worried about the product being restocked, which would happen soon
- The Weather Channel shared that 8 out of 10 people change their beauty routine based on the weather. The elf still wasn’t sure how they would use this information, but placed it on their vision to consider.
- Popular singer Meghan Trainor posted a viral organic TikTok post featuring one of her favorite products, the elf Halo Glow, which has gotten incredible exposure.
- Elf has learned that Meghan Trainor has always dreamed of being a weather girl
What’s the best way to get all those elements working together in just three weeks to advance at the campaign level…
“Put your head among the stars and look for the stars that shine the brightest. And don’t stop looking until you’ve formed a constellation.”
elf Beauty has pulled together all their finds, from tune-ups to dreaming up the Halo Glow commercial, for a “special glow report” featuring Meghan Trainor as the weather forecaster.
“Once you’ve formed a constellation, stop looking, start doing.” All questioning and the resulting information gathering and strategy must actually lead to action for it to have real impact.
Move at the speed of culture (aka elf Speed)
Marchisotto emphasized the importance of acting quickly, moving at elven speed or “culture speed.”
“Three weeks from start to finish, we signed Meghan Trainor, we put her on the table with an elf, the Weather Channel, and the Meghan Trainor trifecta, and we had the most successful holiday campaign in elf history… 5.7 billion impressions.” :
The elf wins big in the Big Game
As Marchisotto explained, Meghan Trainor special radiation report had to happen for the Jennifer Coolidge Prime Time ad to happen. And Meghan Trainor must have really liked her product to make an organic Halo Glow TikTok happen. And the elf had to tune in to see that TikTok. And their team had to think innovatively about how to quickly assemble all these elements to save Christmas (an important job for an elf).
“If you’re going to make the impossible possible, you need a lot of energy, and you need to be able to hold an elf.”
Just a few short weeks ago, and with the holidays behind us, Elf continued to tune in to see which of their products customers were most excited about and what language they were using to describe them. elf’s Power Grip Primer quickly proved to be the hottest topic among beauty enthusiasts, with them describing it using phrases like “makeup glue,” “sticky slime,” and “magical sticky face medicine.”
Now Elf not only knew which product to lean on for their next big ad, but also the language to use when marketing that product that would resonate with their audience. They also knew they needed an equally iconic campaign that would stick in everyone’s minds long after their first Prime Time ad during the Big Game.
And like Meghan Trainor, who already loved Elf products and always dreamed of being a meteorologist, the amazing Jennifer Coolidge is not only one of the most beloved cultural icons of our time, but was already a true fan of the brand who loves the products and Elf’s cruelty-free promise.
Notably, Coolidge is a fan who shared in a recent interview that he always wanted to play a dolphin. (No with A dolphin as a dolphin. Following their formula of “The Power of Activation,” Elf turned their dreams, and Coolidge’s, into reality in one of the most memorable ads (and hashtags) beauty has ever seen, after all, who does not do you want #dolphinskin?
Elf returned to their anything-is-possible philosophy when they set out to work with Jennifer Coolidge for an as-yet-unsecured ad spot during the big game, which was just three weeks away. And with some help from a talented team, including Tinuiti, who helped secure the ad break spot, they did.
“We worked closely with Elf’s marketing team to secure this opportunity and make it happen. Campaigns like these speak to the incredible relationships we’ve developed with our customers and the tremendous opportunities Tinuiti’s Streaming+ division has, particularly our ability to combine brand and performance marketing tactics to drive full growth. We couldn’t do it without the cross-channel partnerships we pride ourselves on as a full-stack marketing agency or the phenomenal clients we enjoy working with every day.”
– Jonathan LernerDirector, Client Strategy & Analytics, Bliss Point Media, part of Tinuiti
“Elf has always been a first mover in the digital space, so it was interesting but not surprising that they wanted to launch a campaign for the Big Game. We’ve been working with their team to deliver impactful Online Shopping and support this critical moment with a 360-degree approach against tried-and-true platforms like TikTok to capture new audiences and continue to delight their existing customer base. »
– Megan Caputoband director at Tinuiti
Not content to just do the task, Elf’s team continued to ask themselves questions and came up with some brilliant ideas to use every second of the hilarious footage of their shoot with Coolidge. Leaving no stone unturned, the elf continued her ‘non-stop drumming’ with hilarious results from their promotional shoot, shared on social media via the new series, Vanity Table Talk.
What about elfing statistics showing the marketing performance score?
- The elf campaign received 57 billion global impressions, with the elf leading all Big Game ads with 18,000 mentions and 89 percent positive sentiment.
- The #dolphinskin TikTok trend was born, earning 21 million views and +429% growth MoM
- Purchase value increased by +64% after playing WoW
- Before the big game, elf Cosmetics sold one Power Grip Primer every 8 seconds. After their Prime Time ad, that already impressive benchmark grew to one Power Grip Primer selling every 3.5 seconds, having a halo effect on their entire business.
Be sure to check out Marchisotto’s Tinuiti Live 2023 on-demand session to further inspire yourself with his energy, as well as our other amazing sessions of the day.