IDEA: Makeup ads have a hard time being authentically inspiring, complicated as they are by issues of vanity and manufactured beauty.
But Dermablend Professional is different. The brand's corrective cosmetics are used by people with mild to severe skin conditions, and so its advertising can be unconflicted—even empowering. This isn't about vanity; it's about freeing oneself from ridicule and living a normal life.
New ads from Agence Tuxedo underscore this in a remarkable way. In emotional testimonials, two women, one semi-famous and one unknown, make a simple but in some ways audacious claim—that Dermablend's concealing products don't allow them to hide; they allow them to reveal who they truly are. This is counterintuitive but utterly heartfelt and believable.
These women "fight through the shock that their skin condition creates—people look at them and stop at their skin," said Tuxedo creative director Ludwig Ciupka. "Covering themselves allows people to see through their imperfections and see who they are inside."
COPYWRITING: In the ads, Cassandra Bankson and Cheri Lindsay look directly at the camera, from a black background, and remove their concealing makeup as they talk frankly about their skin conditions.
Bankson, who has battled severe acne, is a YouTube star for her makeup tutorials (one has 22 million views). Lindsay, who has vitiligo, which causes depigmentation of the skin, also has YouTube videos. Both talk movingly about the challenges they've faced. (Bankson heartbreakingly recalls a bully telling her that her dying grandfather was lucky he'd never have to see her face again.)
But they come to the same conclusion. As Bankson says: "I used to use makeup to cover up and to hide who I was. Now I use it to express myself and show the world who I truly am."
Ciupka says nothing was scripted; he just had the women talk freely. "[We were] almost in tears at moments," he said. He set aside 45 minutes for each shoot, but each woman nailed it within five minutes.
ART DIRECTION/FILMING: Ciupka filmed at Tuxedo's Montreal studios. It's so visually simple for two reasons. First, Dermablend wanted the same look as its previous viral video, starring the ultra-tattooed Rick Genest (aka, "Zombie Boy"), which got 15 million views; and second, the brand is asking people to make their own videos in the same style, which is easier to do with black backdrops.
There are two camera angles—straight on and profile. Ciupka used a Steadicam for the latter shots. "I had briefed my Steadicam operator to focus on emotional details, like nervous hands and such," said Ciupka. "That brings dynamism to a very simple/static action, which you need when you create two-minute videos for Web viewers, who are far more demanding than TV zappers."
TALENT: Both women come off as honest, confident, secure—and above all, courageous. "Cassandra, being a popular YouTube blogger, didn't need me to make her feel secure, but Cheri did," said Ciupka. "I made sure she felt comfortable and empowered."
SOUND: The earlier Genest video used a Zoo Brazil track called "There Is Hope." Ciupka went back to Zoo Brazil for the new spots and licensed an upcoming, unreleased track called "Heart's a Legend."
"It felt right for the follow-up, for a more emotional campaign, while still giving it an edge," he said.
MEDIA: The videos, aimed at women 15-45 with minor to severe skin imperfections, are running on YouTube and the Dermablend site.
Genest stars in a new video, too, but of course, his skin condition was self-imposed. Emotionally, Bankson and Lindsay's ads are the focus.
Client: Dermablend Professional
General Manager, U.S., Dermablend & Vichy: Sonya Sheth
Agency: Agence Tuxedo, Montreal
Art Director/Director: Ludwig we had planned 45 minutes per girls to allow them to talk and they took 5 minutes each and we were amazed at how much 'real' content we got from them.
Director of Client Services: Nancy Gendron
Manager, Client Services: Roxanne Champagne
Video Editing: Jean-Michel Simard
Production Company: Agence Tuxedo
Music: Zoo Brazil, "Heart's a Legend" (Blackhole Recordings)
Talent: Cassandra Bankson, Cheri Lindsay, Rick Genest (aka Rico or Zombie Boy)