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Lili Reinhart Is the Latest Cover Girl, Reflecting Another Shift in Direction for the Brand

The new Cover Girl reflects a Gen Z-forward approach.

Lili Reinhart is the latest Cover Girl, WWD has exclusively learned.

The 23-year-old “Hustlers” and “Riverdale” actress, Instagram personality and published poet is the first new spokesperson to sign with Cover Girl in two years, after the 2017 appointment of a diverse crew of spokespersons introduced as part of a massive re-brand meant to modernize the struggling business.

Reinhart was selected for the job for her personal qualities and the generation she represents — not to mention, the Instagram followers that typically come with a popular member of Gen Z in Hollywood. “She represents someone who we haven’t explored in this [new cast of Cover Girls] — she has a strong following amongst Gen Z and she’s inspirational,” said Erika Woods, vice president of marketing for the Cover Girl brand at Coty Inc. “She’s honest and raw and a great role model for young girls.”

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In 2017, when Cover Girl’s re-brand was announced alongside a new group of Cover Girls — and the doing away with all the former spokespeople, save for Katy Perry — the group was diverse in race, age and vocation. The new Cover Girls included actress Issa Rae, cookbook author and Instagram personality Ayesha Curry, model Maye Musk, race-car driver Shelina Moreda and fitness influencer Massy Arias. Except for Arias, all have re-signed with the brand and remain Covergirls.

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The appointment of Reinhart, who is a white, blonde, light-eyed young actress, represents a bit of a shift in direction — if not a course correction — for Cover Girl, which in the past has counted Christie Brinkley, Drew Barrymore and Taylor Swift as spokespeople.

The re-brand launched in 2017 did not help to revive Cover Girl in the way it was hoped. Along with other brands in Coty’s Consumer division, such as Sally Hansen and Clairol, Cover Girl has remained a trouble spot for the company, especially in the U.S., as young consumers gravitate toward digitally native brands and shop for beauty online instead of drugstores. The brand’s revamp under former global chief merchandising officer Ukonwa Ojo, who exited Coty in January, has garnered criticism from Wall Street — analysts have noted the re-brand was too much of a shift away from Cover Girl’s heritage, and has alienated the core customer who is 35-plus, while failing to show significant growth with Millennials. Some moves, however, were seen as positive in terms of attracting younger consumers, such as last year’s announcement of the brand’s Leaping Bunny cruelty-free certification.

Along with selecting Reinhart as its post-re-brand Cover Girl, the brand is dialing back on the revamp efforts from two years ago to reemphasize some of its heritage, which was mostly done away with — “I Am What I Makeup,” the tag line introduced during the re-brand, is being retired in favor of the original and more recognizable “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful.”

If not entirely successful, the re-brand, at least, did raise some awareness with younger consumers and helped introduce it back into the “beauty conversation” with its new products and marketing, said Woods. “We were hearing the brand was stale and not offering the kind of looks people were looking for at the time,” said Woods, referring to the years before the re-brand when Procter & Gamble owned Cover Girl, and the reasoning as to why the tag line was changed. The brand was acquired by Coty in 2016. “[Since the re-brand], we’ve been able to be seen as more relevant in today’s beauty conversation.”

However, she acknowledged the brand is still on a “growth journey.” According to Nielsen data tracking the four weeks ending Oct. 12, Cover Girl improved sales year-over-year from down 9.6 percent to down 8.6 percent. A spokesperson for Cover Girl said the brand is the “fastest-growing on Instagram among its competitive set”, which includes Maybelline, L’Oréal, E.l.f. Cosmetics, NYX and Anastasia Beverly Hills. Cover Girl tracks these metrics itself, via an internal team.

Looking ahead, Reinhart will front a new product launching in early 2020, and Cover Girl will focus on product development that speaks to a Gen Z-forward beauty shopper, stepping away from products inspired by the Instagram-filtered beauty look popular a few years ago.

Said Woods, “What’s so great about [bringing back] ‘Easy, Breezy, Beautiful’ is it’s become part of the cultural zeitgeist, and is a no-drama approach to individuality and beauty, and that’s what we think is at the heart of what we think makeup is. It’s great to be able to launch a new Cover Girl and bring back an iconic tag line. It’s very modern and relevant…and has always been a part of the consumer conversation.”

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