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Ashley Graham Radiates Sunshine as Global Ambassador for St. Tropez

“I can take on the world with a tan,” said the Lincoln, Neb.-native who plans to leverage her storytelling skills, and Instagram popularity, to promote the British brand's You Set the Tone campaign.

LONDON — St. Tropez has picked the model, entrepreneur and body positivity activist Ashley Graham for the role of global ambassador as the brand hopes to turn self-tanning into an everyday skin care routine and appeal to the U.S. and international markets.

St. Tropez, which is owned by Britain’s PZ Cussons, a publicly listed manufacturer of beauty, health care and wellness products, will make an announcement today.

Graham’s role is a two-year deal, and is not tied to a specific product launch. The brand is looking to tap into her storytelling skills — the model has a female celebrity podcast called “Pretty Big Deal” — while her social media audience currently numbers 12 million on Instagram.

She will be fronting the latest iteration of St. Tropez’s You Set the Tone brand campaign, which was directed by Michael Nash Associates and photographed in New York by Sølve Sundsbø.

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St. Tropez described the campaign as “international, social and digital-first” with products and finishes that suit “every skin tone, skin type, beauty regime or lifestyle.”

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The first in-store campaign image will land in stores today, and the brand said it plans to work closely with its international retail partners, including Ulta, Amazon Luxury Beauty, Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart, Boots, Superdrug, Asos, Douglas, Kicks online and in-store.

The campaign was produced by Bespoke Banter, and features a series of behind-the-scenes video stories and content that will sit across a full range of social and online channels in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Europe and other international markets.

Jacqueline Burchell, St. Tropez’s global executive vice president of marketing and product development, noted that while the brand has worked with ambassadors in the past, notably Kate Moss, “Ashley takes us to another level.”

Graham’s enthusiasm is certainly palpable. “I feel like I can take on the world with a tan,” said the Lincoln, Neb., native, adding she’s keen to “kick off a brighter tone for 2021.”

Burchell said the campaign’s messaging will be around how the products make customers feel and look. St. Tropez said it picked Graham because it wanted someone who’d be able to tell the story in an authentic way, and “raise confidence and self-belief in every individual across the globe.”

Ashley Graham Radiates Sunshine as Global
Ashley Graham has become the global brand ambassador for St. Tropez. As part of the new role, she will headline the brand’s “You Set the Tone” campaign.

St. Tropez unveiled You Set The Tone in April 2019 with the goal of inspiring and motivating women worldwide “to glow with positivity and confidence.”

This latest installment of the campaign comes at a key time for St. Tropez.

Burchell said the company saw a boom in e-commerce sales during lockdown, “with people buying tanning products as part of a self-care routine. They’re also discovering that the tech has moved on, and they can integrate self-tanning into their beauty routine.”

Burchell argued that self-tanning is fast becoming skincare in its own right, with St. Tropez emphasizing skin health, rather than its shade. It has been adding vitamin C and D to products, and they’re among the most popular on offer.

The Purity Vitamins Bronzing Water body mist and face serum have been booming during lockdown, she added. The Purity line is vegan, with vitamin C and D “boosters” and a trademarked technology that purports to help the skin stimulate vitamin D production, like the sun does. Givaudan created the fragrance for the Vitamins range, using fruity notes such as green apple, passion fruit, guava and grapefruit.

A big part of the research that St. Tropez is doing focuses on how to leverage the ingredients and benefits of skin care to make a better tanning product.

Graham, who has a one-year-old son, is fully promoting the skin care benefits of the products, and said she’d long relied on the brand for tanning ahead of shoots.

In a telephone interview Graham touted the Purity face mist, a buildable formula that can be spritzed on before, or after, makeup. It includes vitamins, hibiscus extract and hyaluronic acid.

“I use it on my face every other night to keep it glowing and give it a bit of a tan. It means I use a lot less makeup on my face, which I think is really nice, because in quarantine we’re not really using that much face makeup,” she said.

Graham said she’s also using the Purity Vitamins Bronzing Water Body Mist.

“I look at it as skin care because if you’re thinking about putting something all over your body, or on your face, you want to know that it has the best ingredients. I’m breastfeeding, and I use this product all over my body,” she said.

Burchell emphasized that while the U.S. is now St. Tropez’ largest market — and growing — it’s not the only market that’s important to the brand and that Graham was chosen for her international appeal.

“It wasn’t just about finding the all-American girl. Her international presence is growing, and she has wonderful way of using social to amplify her messages. She walked for Fendi in Milan (last September, in the spring 2021 show),” and took part in the Melbourne Fashion Festival in 2019.

Even with the new St. Tropez gig, Graham plans to continue with her podcast series, where she’s hosted guests including Jada Pinkett Smith, Hailey Bieber and Patrisse Cullors, the artist and activist and a cofounder of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We’ve just finished up season three so, yes, I’m very excited about that. I love having inspirational conversations, learning and understanding what’s happening in the world, and how people are adjusting. I’m also interested in business, and how women are building their entrepreneurial empires,” Graham said.

She added that social media has been important to her business as a whole, as “a connector with the everyday woman, or women who inspire me. I ask my fans for help or information all the time and I think there’s so many great conversations we’re having about motherhood, and product. What kind of clothing or lingerie do you want to see? How do you love this product, or that product.? I think at the end of the day it’s an amazing connector, and if you’re not using social media, you’re kind of losing out on a lot of information.”