CVS is making good on plans to bring transparency to its beauty business. Today, the chain kicks off its Beauty in Real Life campaign, which will blitz the market via television, print, digital, social and billboard advertising.
“It is the biggest beauty campaign ever done at CVS,” said Norman de Greve, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for CVS Health. Beauty in Real Life is designed to highlight the retailer’s commitment to creating new standards for beauty imagery with a goal to nurture an authentic and more realistic standard of beauty to its customers.
It is also the debut of the first images featuring the CVS Beauty Mark, a watermark designed to highlight imagery than has not been materially altered. The CVS Beauty Mark will start to appear on CVS Pharmacy-produced beauty imagery this year with the goal of all images in the beauty sections of CVS Pharmacy stores reflecting transparency by the end of 2020. “This is a health issue,” maintained de Greve. Having unrealistic expectations leads to stress in daily lives. We want to be part of the solution and encourage others to join us.” The American Medical Association has identified the propagation of unrealistic body images as a significant driver of health issues, particularly among young women.
Real women, selected from a nationwide search for faces representing diverse beauty, appear in the print and video images that are unretouched. The women are shown demonstrating how they use beauty in their daily lives from getting ready for the day with a daughter or friends preparing for a night out. “They don’t need to be photoshopped. There is just so much more depth and substance. It makes women just feel better,” de Greve said. “We want it to be aspirational for women to say, ‘Hey I want to look like that,’ but feel it is realistic, too. We want them to see CVS is a good partner to help them.”
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Furthermore, the campaign was led by women, according to de Greve, noting the beauty and marketing teams at CVS behind Beauty in Real Life as well as the photographer (Mei Tao) and the director (Kat Keene) are all females.
CVS is encouraging other beauty companies to join the effort. “Brands are getting excited about it and reviewing how they shoot their models,” confirmed de Greve. “Some of the top models in the world are getting excited about it, too.” Customer feedback has also been supportive, de Greve said, with the chain receiving emails and letters applauding the move. “We touched a nerve. Everyone can relate to it,” he added.
De Greve said the genesis of CVS’ efforts stem from the rise of social media which displays the transformational powers of beauty products. “You see people with their flaws and then you see them made up,” he said of a popular type of social post. Influencers have also been behind the emergence of small brands that CVS is added into its merchandising mix. That strategy is expected to court younger beauty enthusiasts to its aisles. “We hope we can tap into some of that growth,” de Greve confirmed. He added, however, the heritage brands are critical to CVS, as well. “There’s volume and then there’s growth brands.”
The push to keep it real in beauty is part of CVS’ efforts to promote wellness. The link between imagery in its stores, on its website and marketing materials and health is critical to CVS, where 80 percent of its customers are women. CVS has launched other health-related initiatives such as discontinuing the sale of tobacco and stocking more healthy foods.