Shiseido is shedding a bit of its ultra-Japanese image in favor of a slicker, international and more multicultural approach to beauty — the latest development in chief executive officer Masahiko Uotani’s revitalization plan for the company.
This story first appeared in the October 2, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
On Friday, Shiseido will unveil an advertising campaign composed of still photos and video featuring three new faces of its namesake brand: Enikő Mihalik, Imaan Hammam and Asia Chow, shot by Mario Sorrenti at the famed Sheats Goldstein Residence overlooking Los Angeles. Shiseido is hoping the campaign, called “Beauty vs. the World,” will elevate the brand to a more international level to better compete with its western rivals like Estée Lauder and Lancôme. Previous Shiseido advertising centered more on traditional Japanese concepts like “omotenashi” or hospitality and the benefits of particular products.
“We believe that change is crucial for Shiseido to reestablish leadership in an era characterized by dramatic market changes and the emergence of a new generation. This innovation is of the utmost significance as it bears great implications for the future success of the brand,” Uotani said. “This innovation involves a shift toward establishing strong value as a whole brand. In concrete terms, we will enforce our brand communication and expand touch points with new consumers.”
The ads will be used to promote Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate and an upcoming foundation. The Ultimune ads will make their debut early next year. Shiseido said it was too early to give a media plan for the print or video ads. The company declined to give an investment figure.
Images from the campaign will be unveiled Friday at an event in Paris to coincide with fashion week, featuring experiential 3-D art from Robert Montgomery and sounds from Senjan Jansen.
“In terms of Shiseido, I think that they do have good heritage and they do have good DNA, but it was sort of unclear to them what that was or what that should be today in terms of women from a global perspective and in terms of the beauty industry in general,” said Ruba Abu-Nimah, Shiseido’s global creative director, who joined the company from Bobbi Brown. “How is this brand going to evolve and become relevant to the 21st century?”
Abu-Nimah said the campaign’s diverse casting will help reestablish Shiseido as a global, internationally minded brand in all markets, including the monoculture of Japan.
“At some point you have to break through that barrier…the world is a bigger place and we are part of that world,” Abu-Nimah said, adding that images used in future campaigns for other products over the next year will have a consistent voice and mood.
Chris Riley, who has been Shiseido’s strategic communication director for 18 months, said the company’s research and marketing work indicated that the multicultural approach translates to Asian consumers.
“Even if you go to a city like Jakarta, how many nationalities do you have there?” he said. “The Shiseido brand needs to be relevant to young women in urban centers, if you like, around the world.”