Inside CoverGirl’s Quest to Modernize Its Message

Celebrating the Power of Makeup, Removing the 'Male Gaze'

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Last fall Procter & Gamble officially spun off several beauty brands, including CoverGirl, to Coty, and that ownership shift elevated CoverGirl’s brand status. Instead of being one of the lowest priority brands at P&G, it’s now one of the highest priority brands at an organization that’s purely focused on beauty, explained CoverGirl svp of Ukonwa Ojo. As a result of that focus, CoverGirl got a complete revamp, with a new tagline and brand positioning from creative shop Droga5.

The more that we talked to the women and realized the role that makeup plays in their lives, it just dawned on us that makeup was so much more than the cosmetic,” said Ojo. “When women got it right they really did feel that they could conquer the world.” 

With the revamp, CoverGirl and Droga5 wanted to showcase the myriad reasons and feelings women have when they put on makeup—how it can be interesting, fun, joyous—while also rejecting the belief that the sole reason women put on makeup is for men. 

“We didn’t want to follow the same sorts of rules of the category,” said Katy Alonzo, group strategy director at Droga5. “We wanted to buck a lot of the superficiality that you see in beauty. To do that we wanted to think about makeup and beauty in the way that women think about makeup and beauty and really tell a truer and more authentic story of the reasons women interact with makeup and put it on every day. The reasons and what we saw were very different from the way it’s marketed to her.” 

The new 90-second spot, “Made in the Mirror,” features CoverGirl’s new tagline, “I Am What I Make Up.” The idea for the “tagline came from the power [of makeup] to express any side of who you are,” said Alexander Nowak ecd at Droga5.

New brand ambassadors, including Adweek’s Young Influentials cover star and creator of HBO’s Insecure Issa Rae; chef, author and TV star Ayesha Curry; model and dietician Maye Musk (who is 69 years old); as well as professional motorcycle racer Shelina Moreda; singer Katy Perry and personal trainer Massy Arias are featured in the new spot.

The work is meant to be “reflect a very positive cultural mood where women don’t want to be dictated to and told what is beautiful,” noted Alonzo. “Women want to decide for themselves what beauty is to them and what beauty means. In order to modernize CoverGirl, we had to reflect the modernity of who this consumer is today.” 

As part of Droga5’s quest to give CoverGirl a refresh, the agency made sure its strategy, copy, photography style, even the story the spots told don’t push the idea that women only wear makeup for men. “We had to take the idea of beauty out of the male gaze and really talk about beauty as a way that women authentically work and transform their identities every single day,” said Alonzo.

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.