Jessica Alba


Honest Co. is set to launch its first major ad campaign — more than a dozen broadcast spots with a musical score composed by Will.i.am — that will be followed by a brand overhaul scheduled for late 2017 across its family of products and web site.

“We’re five years in and I think every brand goes through their evolution and we’re now at that point where it’s important for us to be really cohesive with our look and feel,” said Honest cofounder Jessica Alba. “When we launched the company…we really were only online and so now that we look at ourselves and we look at the competitive landscape at retail, we need to make sure that we can stand out and compete against everyone else on a shelf.”

A new campaign would be welcome following a buzzy 2016 that included speculation about the company preparing for an initial public offering, followed by chatter that the company was on the sales block. The year capped off with confirmation that Honest, in the current quarter, would shed 80 jobs.

The “Moments” campaign certainly flips the script on the harder edge business conversation that’s been had about the company’s direction. Spots feature user-generated content or non-actors celebrate real births, while others aim to capture everyday moments between parents and kids. Will.i.am, whose real name is William James Adams, reviewed some of the spots for Alba and offered to help compose a musical score to tie everything together.

The collaboration turned out to be a learning experience for both entrepreneurs.

“There’s 150 people that work in my company and everyone rushes. Everyone wants to hurry up and get out in the marketplace and grow fast, fast, fast. Seeing the Honest Co.’s steps as they gradually grow and get bigger and bigger is inspirational for us,” Adams said.

The musician called i.am+ “a big small company.” One hundred of its employees are engineers working on an AI product expected to be released to the market at the end of the second quarter.

The two spoke with WWD last week following a fireside chat at the Honest headquarters in Playa Vista, Calif., during which time Alba unveiled the new spots to employees before going into a Facebook Live recording.

It’s that last aspect — the social media channel — that has allowed start-ups such as Honest to carefully craft their messages while bypassing more traditional routes of brand-building.

“You don’t have to rely on a third party to tell your story and you can go direct to your consumer, and even if you do have a third party for distribution, there’s a home base for people to get the message of what you’re about and who you’re about and you can build your community online and have access to the world in a real way,” Alba said of technology’s importance to entrepreneurs. “I think technology is nothing but good things for budding entrepreneurs and you don’t necessarily even need to be well capitalized to launch something.”

It’s also largely about vision and staying the course, Adams pointed out.

“For my business, when you’re going out and raising money and an investor will ask ‘OK, what is your exit? Are you trying to sell?’ And when they say, ‘You have the potential to grow something huge. Don’t sell it. That’s the reason why we’re interested’ long-term [business strategy] is my best friend,” he said.

“I think investors — certainly for my company and Will’s company — that we would even entertain are people who understand the long-term goal,” Alba said. “But people get itchy and depending on where they are in their life and their career they may change or shift. I think for us as entrepreneurs we have to have the discipline to stay true to our mission and why we created the company and not veer from that. Investors — depending on whether it’s private equity or venture capital or institutional investors — everybody wants to be part of a bigger story. Everybody wants to invest in something that’s going to make the world a better place.”

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