PR > PR: Sectors


R/GA, New York / SEPHORA / 2022


Silver Cannes Lions
CampaignCampaign(opens in a new tab)
Case Film
Presentation Image




Why is this work relevant for PR?

Black Beauty is Beauty is a multi-channel campaign designed to elevate and highlight the influence of Black beauty on mainstream beauty culture. It included social content, an editorial partnership, and a statement film. Additionally, we fought content and search engine bias, with an SEO hack that sought to change search results from a fictional horse to the Black beauty culture responsible for the trends, products and styles we all love. We enlisted others to help us impact the search results by hashtagging #BlackBeauty on Black beauty content across social media.


In 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and a reckoning with the effects of systemic racism, the beauty industry suffered significant sales declines. Many companies responded to the latter pressure with commitments to the Black community. Sephora, however, found itself in a difficult position considering the beauty category's history of marginalizing Black beauty culture.

In response, Sephora signed the 15% Pledge, dedicating 15% of their shelves and supplier networks to Black-owned businesses, while also refocusing its brand incubation program on founders of color.

Despite these efforts, Sephora wanted to do more to prove to the Black community that this wasn’t an empty statement, as well as educate all beauty lovers about the contributions of Black people.

Describe the creative idea

Despite a history of erasure and appropriation, Black beauty is beauty. From techniques like the cut crease and contouring to ingredients like Shea butter, the contributions of Black innovators and the organic developments of Black beauty culture have benefitted all beauty lovers for centuries. It’s time the world recognized the blackness in beauty.

Describe the PR strategy

In 2021, Sephora debuted its first-ever Black-Owned Brands campaign to recognize and celebrate the contributions that Black culture and innovators have made to the beauty industry, and to drive purchase of Black owned brands at Sephora.?

As part of Sephora’s overarching Diversity and Inclusion Heart journey, they wanted to leverage their platform and community to celebrate Black beauty and invite everyone to participate in it. ?

This meant using strategic and embargoed exclusive outreach to secure coverage in awareness-driving publications, and to reach the largest audience possible through earned press with image-shaping outlets.

There was also a virtual event and panel discussion to “unveil” the campaign and featuring media attendees across consumer, business, beauty, trade and inclusive media outlets.

Finally Sephora leveraged its biggest stage – the largest prestige beauty dotcom – site, social following, and store windows across the U.S to drive? visibility.

Describe the PR execution

The campaign centered around a hero film honoring Black beauty and the contributions Black people have made to beauty culture. The film featured scenes of iconic Black beauty culture such as the hair salon and drag balls, featuring real drag queens, trans people, and queer people. Collage style frames juxtaposed popular beauty trends, products and tools with their Black origins, while also including non-Black people in a way that felt inclusive rather than appropriative.

Additionally, we partnered with NY Magazine's 'The Cut' to bolster our message among Black and non-black audiences.

Plus, while researching “Black beauty” for the campaign, we noticed that nearly all the results were about the 1877 novel “Black Beauty,” including lots of images of black horses. To combat search and content bias online, we executed a Google SEO/SEM hack to bring authentic Black Beauty content to the top.

List the results

Sephora drove awareness for Black Beauty’s cultural impact and their actions supporting Black Beauty through a four-part media strategy synchronized with owned social and point-of-sale announcements:

- Secured 50 original earned press hits (+57 syndications) and +440M impressions. ?

- Dominated editorial share-of-voice (SOV) v. key competitors with 52% SOV during campaign activity in August through October 2021 to-date. Notably, ULTA launched the MUSE 100 campaign during this time period as well.?

- 84% of coverage included Sephora in the headline; with an average of 2.71 program mentions in each hit; and 5,156 social shares of editorial coverage. Slightly more than half of the hits (51%) included at least two of the Black-Owned Beauty initiatives.?

The goal of Sephora’s Black Beauty is Beauty campaign was intended to spark conversation across social media. As a result, there were 3.1M views of the short film on YouTube.?

The Campaign drove lifts in agreement toward brand attributes: ?“is a brand that has clear values and stands for something positive” (14 pt lift at 95%)? “Offers a diverse range of products for different people (e.g. skin type, hair type, etc.)” (13 pt lift)

Drove lifts in ad awareness (7 pts at 95% confidence)? and message association (9 pts at 95%), along with directional lifts in brand favorability (6 pts) ?and purchase intent (5 pts).

Increased search for the beauty retailer category (5.2 pt lift at 95%), search for the brand (1.9 pt lift at 95%), and brand website visits (2.1 pt lift at 95%)

More Entries from Retail in PR

24 items

Grand Prix Cannes Lions

Social Engagement



(opens in a new tab)

More Entries from R/GA

24 items

Grand Prix Cannes Lions

Titanium and Integrated



(opens in a new tab)