Cannes Lions

MUSE

McCANN , New York / ULTA BEAUTY / 2021

Case Film
Supporting Content
Supporting Content

Overview

Entries

Credits

Overview

Background

At Ulta Beauty, we believe the power of beauty can bring possibilities to life for everyone - but not all are created equal in the eyes of the category. Since its inception, the beauty industry has been notoriously exclusionary to Black women, perpetuating the very systemic issues that plague society at large. Despite Black women spending 80% more on cosmetics than any other cohort, Black-owned brands receive less than 2% of shelf space and Black female entrepreneurs receive just 0.27% of funding. Simply put, the industry Black women invest in refuses to invest back in them. Even the steps that have been taken—like an increased number of product shades—fail to address the toxic issues deeply rooted in the category.

So, we set out to right the wrongs of this broken system, in order to change the way Black women at every age experience beauty today, and in the future.

Idea

Make the invisible, visible.

Despite the undeniable influence that Black women have on the beauty industry, our world fails to recognize, celebrate and support the very impact they make and have made.

If we wanted to fix this problem, we had to do something that hadn’t been done: make the problem impossible to overlook. We set out to make this invisible problem, visible to the world by celebrating, honoring and empowering the bold, brilliant and beautiful Black women that have used their gifts to make beauty in our world possible.

To tell this story, we started with a love letter to Black beauty, paying homage to the Black mothers, entrepreneurs, and icons who have paved - and continue to pave - the path for beauty’s future. Then, we announced the launch of our multifaceted, action-backed initiative to create tangible change for Ulta Beauty, our industry and the

Strategy

Rebuild the power structure of beauty from the ground up.

As we investigated why the problem had been invisible for so long, we discovered that the entire beauty power structure was built to obscure Black women.

At the top, representation is virtually nonexistent. As of 2020, brands like Glossier and Anastasia Beverly Hills had zero Black employees in leadership roles—and at L’Oreal USA, just 7% of corporate employees were Black.

In the middle, role models are lacking. Black female beauty entrepreneurs don’t have the network other cohorts do to make their dreams realities. And for years, Black role models were few and far between in major publications.

At the most basic level, Black women’s needs were unmet. Until Fenty launched in 2017, many mass beauty brands failed to carry products that met Black women’s needs.

We couldn’t just represent Black women, we had to rebuild the power structure completely.

Execution

We called our action-backed platform MUSE, something that spreads light and inspiration. Through four pillars—Magnify, Uplift, Support, Empower—MUSE began to make the invisible, visible:

Magnify: We launched a film that served as a love letter to Black women and celebrated their contributions and legacies. Directed by Joshua Kissi and an all-Black crew, we featured five Black entrepreneurs who are leading the way in beauty. The film ran on Broadcast, OTT, FEP, VOD, OLV, Organic Social and was amplified by our director and entrepreneurs.

Uplift: Ulta Beauty committed to uplifting Black entrepreneurs by doubling the number of Black-owned beauty brands on shelf this year.

Support: Ulta Beauty pledged a $25million budget supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Empower: We launched brand new in-store training for every single associate in every single store. And Ulta Beauty hired Tracee Ellis Ross as a diversity and inclusion advisor, to hold the organization accountable.

Outcome

We set out to spark a critical conversation that shake up the system:

- We made history: Our film was the first campaign in history dedicated entirely to the beauty of Black women.

- We raised mass awareness, making the formerly invisible problem, visible: MUSE earned over 4.5 billion impressions total, with 2.7 million social engagements. Others found our message so powerful, it was picked up in 465 broadcast stories and 1000+ stories on social media. And MUSE’s 97% positive sentiment and 2.4 million likes indicated that people liked it—a lot.

But beyond the numbers, we helped Black women and girls feel seen: A teacher showed it to her class of young students, empowering the next generation. Comments like “I feel seen” and “To be seen and reflected in this magnificence has my heart overflowing” poured in. Across the board, Black women and girls saw their beauty reflected back

Similar Campaigns

9 items

Ads that attack… must be The Boys.

RUFUS POWERED BY INITIATIVE, Sydney

Ads that attack… must be The Boys.

2023, AMAZON

(opens in a new tab)