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E.l.f. Beauty, NYX Cosmetics, and other personal care brands shell out for Super Bowl ads

Beauty and personal care companies made their presence felt at Super Bowl LVIII as they spend more on marketing.

Beauty and personal care companies carved out a space at Super Bowl LVIII.

E.l.f. Beauty (ELF), L'Oréal-owned (LRLCY) NYX Cosmetics and CeraVe, and Unilever’s (UL) Dove presented new ads during football's biggest night, highlighting that Super Bowl commercials aren’t just the domain of car and beer brands.

Beauty companies' willingness to shell out for prime-time commercials comes as the industry continues to post impressive growth since the pandemic, propped up by resilient consumer spending and trends on social media.

After a successful regional Super Bowl ad featuring actress Jennifer Coolidge in 2023, e.l.f. doubled down with a national ad spot. The affordable cosmetics company has ramped up advertising spending in recent years, and its investment in marketing reached 26% of net sales in its most recent quarter compared to 17% a year ago.

"The overwhelming success of the campaign by every metric fueled our return with a national presence this year versus a regional spot the year prior," e.l.f. Beauty CEO Tarang Amin said on the company's Feb. 6 earnings call. "Securing a national spot increases our household impressions by a factor of 3x. We believe this reach provides the best opportunity to springboard [a] viral moment across a wide spectrum of platforms and increases our ability to boost brand impact."

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Marketers pay a premium for the exposure the Super Bowl offers. The cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad has grown to between $6 million and $7 million, making it one of the most expensive advertising opportunities globally, according to Stacy Jones, founder of Hollywood Branded.

Last year, the game drew a record 115 million viewers. And this year, some anticipated that Taylor Swift would boost ratings for Sunday’s game, particularly among women. In the first three weeks of "Sunday Night Football," NFL viewership spiked 53% among teen girls, 24% among women ages 18-24, and 34% among women over the age of 35, Yahoo Finance's Allie Canal reported.

e.l.f., NYX, and CeraVe push for brand awareness

E.l.f. Beauty aimed to duplicate last year's success by running its first national Super Bowl ad campaign.

The celebrity-heavy commercial featured Judge Judy Sheindlin, as "Judge Beauty," as well as "Suits" actors Gina Torres and Sarah Rafferty, singer Meghan Trainor, and former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho to highlight the brand’s $14 Halo Glow Liquid Filter complexion booster.

According to Amin, the commercial gained 11 billion impressions as of Feb. 6, five days before it aired during the Super Bowl. Last year, e.l.f.’s Super Bowl commercial amassed 57 billion impressions and drove 10 times the usual traffic to its website in the two minutes after the ad aired, e.l.f. CFO Mandy Fields told Fortune.

Judy Sheindlin stars as
Judy Sheindlin stars as "Judge Beauty" in e.l.f. Beauty's Super Bowl commercial. (Screenshot)

It's a formula that seems to be working. In its fiscal third quarter, e.l.f. reported that sales grew 85% on an annual basis to $270.9 million, its 20th consecutive quarter of net sales growth, and raised its guidance for marketing and digital investment.

"We feel great about the 24% [marketing spend] that we're guiding this year, and that's really based on the tremendous [returns on investment] we're seeing on our marketing investment in terms of gross sales per dollar invested," Amin said. "I've been in the consumer space for over 30 years. It's the first brand I've seen where you take up your marketing levels and actually get better ROIs. So, we feel really good about what we continue to see from a marketing ROI standpoint even as we take our levels up."

In 2022, e.l.f. Beauty spent more than $96 million on advertising. While it aims to increase brand awareness, it's competing against the largest name in beauty, L'Oréal, which spent 12 billion euros across all its brands that same year.

L'Oréal also has hiked its ad spending: Its advertising and promotional expenses increased by 90 basis points year over year to 32.4% of sales, according to the French conglomerate's 2023 annual report.

Hoping to enjoy the same success as the previous Super Bowl campaigns of e.l.f. Beauty and Rihanna's Fenty Beauty (which coincided with Rihanna's halftime show) in 2023, L'Oréal debuted two ads for NYX Cosmetics and skin care brand CeraVe.

Affordable cosmetics brand NYX tapped Cardi B in its Super Bowl feature. (YouTube screenshot)
Affordable cosmetics brand NYX tapped Cardi B in its Super Bowl feature. (YouTube screenshot)

NYX's 30-second ad promoted its "Duck Plump" lip gloss with rapper Cardi B debuting in the brand's first celebrity partnership. The commercial "aims to flip the script on male stereotypes with a humorous look at the extreme plumping sensation of the gloss, which will leave audiences laughing," NYX Cosmetics said in a press release.

L'Oréal also aired a Super Bowl commercial for its skin care brand CeraVe, starring actor Michael Cera, as part of a weekslong marketing push.

"The Super Bowl presented an ideal stage to illuminate our brand's mission through an innovative approach — a first of its kind immersive campaign, inviting everyone to participate in a memorable prank-like experience," said Melanie Vidal, CeraVe's global brand general manager.

“For a brand that’s not a famous brand, … I think it did the job because Michael Cera, CeraVe, it’s very clear what the brand is, and you remember it,” Mekanism CEO Jason Harris told Yahoo Finance Live. “One celebrity. One joke playing off the name. It landed. While it may not be the riskiest ad ever, … it does the job, and it’s worth the $7 million to pay for media because now the brand is well known, and you’ve heard of it.”

Actor Michael Cera promotes CeraVe moisturizing cream in a new commercial. (YouTube screenshot)
Actor Michael Cera promotes CeraVe moisturizing cream in a new commercial. (YouTube screenshot)

CeraVe wasn't the only skin care company to promote its products. Cetaphil, which is owned by Galderma, nodded to the "Taylor Swift effect" in a new heartwarming commercial.

Meanwhile, Dove’s ad — titled "It's the Hard Knock Life" — promoted young girls in sport and body confidence. In the lead-up to the big game, the Unilever subsidiary counted on Kylie Kelce to help promote the brand.

Since the beginning of the year, shares of e.l.f. are up 21%, while Unilever stock has risen 4% and L'Oréal shares have seen a 7% decline.

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