Selena Gomez Launches Her ‘Feel Good’ Rare Beauty Brand

Debut campaign focuses on building community to drive sales despite pandemic slump

Selena Gomez's new beauty brand launches today rare-beauty-MAG-2020
Headshot of Diana Pearl

Today, Selena Gomez joins the likes of Rihanna, Kylie Jenner and Lady Gaga in the world of celebrity-founded beauty brands, with the launch of Rare Beauty. The brand is focused on cosmetics and related accessories, debuting with 20 products in its repertoire, including foundation and concealer in 48 shades—eight more than the groundbreaking 40 that Rihanna’s brand, Fenty, launched with in 2017.

Katie Welch, Rare Beauty’s CMO, said that Gomez, who has long been outspoken about the beauty standards women face, wants Rare to be “a tool for like celebrating what makes us different.”

That mindset is the focal point of Rare’s first campaign, complete with a 30-second spot that features Gomez, along with a number of other women, discussing what the word “rare” means to them.

“The word ‘rare’ is such a beautiful word,” Gomez says in the ad. “Especially applying it to people. It’s a brand that’s really all about accepting who you are. Just a safe place where people can feel comfortable.”

The ad was shot pre-Covid-19, which is clear—it features women hugging one another, or placing a kiss on someone’s cheek. But for a brand whose community has played a major role since its earliest days, Welch said it made sense to showcase the “connection” between the women, even in the social distancing era.

And given that the brand has such a famous face at the forefront, they wanted to make sure Gomez’s vision was at the heart of the launch spot, created with Gates Creative.

“There’s nothing overly staged in the spot,” said Welch. “We wanted to make sure that Selena was comfortable, and that it’s Selena speaking from her heart.”

Along with the launch, Rare Beauty has set a goal of raising $100 million in the next 10 years for mental health services in underserved communities.

The brand was first announced to the public back in February, in a world that looks very different than the one consumers are living in today. It’s entering the cosmetics market at a more challenging time than anyone could have anticipated in the two years leading up to Rare’s launch. With many people still working from home and most large gatherings and celebrations paused for the time being, there’s less need for makeup, in particular, than ever before. That’s reflected in sales numbers for the beauty industry, too: According to data from NPD Group, prestige beauty was down 36% during the second quarter, with makeup taking an especially hard hit with a 52% decline.

Of course, the pandemic’s arrival posed other obstacles, particularly when it came to creating content. That’s meant that ads running on social media are relatively simple, showing Gomez testing out Rare products like the Soft Pinch Liquid Blush on footage shot with her iPhone. Instead of in-person launch events at Sephora stores, there’s been Zoom calls with fans of the brand so they could connect online—naturally, Gomez has surprised attendees at a few of the calls.

“Our brand,” Welch said simply, “is a platform to connect people.”

She added that because the focus has been on creating a sense of community around the brand, Rare hasn’t felt as much pressure around the changing landscape of beauty sales. Right now, Welch said, the priority has been building the Rare community. The hope, of course, is that a strong community will lead to strong sales performance. And Welch is confident that Rare’s messaging will resonate with consumers when products are on the market.

@dianapearl_ Diana is the deputy brands editor at Adweek and managing editor of Brandweek.