CEOs often appear in ads for their companies, but Birchbox's Katia Beauchamp puts a compelling personal spin on this familiar setup by discussing her "big nose" and "flat chest," and using a breast pump, during the minute-long film below.
Created by Confidant, the spot takes the form of a "Love Letter" that Beauchamp, also the brand's co-founder, writes to herself. Weary from travel, and spending the night in a hotel, she taps away on a laptop.
"Hey there," her narration begins. "Sorry you couldn't be home with the kids, but for what it's worth, you were great tonight."
Her appearance headlines an aspirational, inclusive campaign that launches today and positions the monthly cosmetics subscription service as a resource that helps consumers of all ages and backgrounds find time to decompress, take stock and care for themselves.
"You've been telling me that you crave something more," Beauchamp says to herself at one point in the commercial. "The best description we have is peace. Peace with the big nose, the flat chest—peace and contentment with what you have built, and gratitude for the person who is still building."
The first in a series of "Love Letters" from various personalities, Beauchamp's outing exudes a gauzy, confident vibe that backs the brand proposition without a hint of hard sell (even though, at times, she's shown sampling beauty and grooming products offered by Birchbox).
"You are once in a lifetime," she says near the ad's conclusion. "More than what you can do, more than a trajectory, more than what the internet has to say. You have it in you to see this. You just need to take the time to see it."
Finally, a message flashes on screen: "You only get a little you-time. Make it count."
Sure, it's très huggy-feely, but that's the point, and Beauchamp's casual vulnerability reminds us of the transcendent power of lipstick, perfume, facial scrub and other beauty aids to help folks feel like their very best selves.
Beauchamp tells Muse that appearing in the film wasn't her idea. "Confidant asked me to do it, and I was inspired by the concept and wanted to take on the challenge," she says. "It's the first ad that I've been in." (This also represents the agency's debut for the brand.)
She composed the copy, striving to convey that "vulnerability can be an asset. I've always had the ambition and the dreams, but what I was interested in showing is that it's possible to approach this with less of an ego and less of a sense of 'I have all the answers.' It's more about helping people recognize their own potential by showing my reality—that I'm like them."
As for the breast pump, "Confidant asked if I'd be comfortable pumping for the filming and I said, 'I'd have to be doing it anyways!' [She has an infant daughter, one of four children.] It was a little weird to be filmed doing it, but ultimately, it's fucking amazing that women can feed another human from their body. It feels wrong that women are made to feel like they need to hide from that, even though I can feel like that, too."
A similarly themed anthem spot shows people of various ages and backgrounds addressing their reflections, each reciting a few lines of percussive, poetic copy that begins, "You in the mirror, who do you see? You see somebody that loves me."
The tagline "A monthly box of you-time," though clunky in the abstract, works well in context and establishes a platform the brand can own as it battles gift-box rivals such as Ipsy in an increasingly crowded field.
With about 2.5 million customers, Birchbox delivers the work as it continues an ongoing makeover. The company recently teamed up with Walgreens, which took a minority stake and will place branded displays in 11 of its stores. Birchbox also raised subscription rates for the first time in nine years.
"Our target audience is who we call the 'casual' beauty and grooming consumer," says Birchbox chief customer officer Amanda Tolleson. "They have a different relationship with the category: Their spend on beauty and grooming is driven by purpose, not passion, and they're looking for a different type of company to help them find products they love."
So, Birchbox and Confidant focused on "creating something that would catch the attention of someone who would normally scroll past a beauty ad," Tolleson says. "We're not changing who we're going after or who we're building our business for. The 'casual' consumer has been our focus for the past few years. But this is the first time that we're being this bold in our approach to reaching them."
She describes the anthem ad as an appeal "that anybody could relate to," while "for the 'Love Letters,' we wanted to build deep emotional connections by showing real, relatable personas."
Birchbox's "You-Time Report" amplifies themes in the campaign by gauging Americans' attitudes toward self-care. Among the not-so-surprising results: People feel stressed out, with two-thirds of respondents putting others' needs first, and 33 percent feeling guilty when they address their own physical or mental well-being.
"We all need self-care to be our best selves," says Confidant creative director Shabazz Larkin. "Birchbox is a really tactile way to remind us to take the time—and to enjoy it."
Beauchamp adds, "We take the human seriously—we don't take beauty seriously or think it's the end all, be all. These humans deserve to be seen as important consumers of beauty, even if they don't prioritize beauty. They deserve to have fun with it and have a good experience buying it. That's what we stand for."
Co-founder and CEO - Katia Beauchamp
Chief Customer Officer - Amanda Tolleson
Director, Brand Marketing & Partnerships - Brittany Tomkiewicz
VP, Experience - Meredith (Pressman) Schwartz
Director, Creative Production - Kathy Nguyen
Sr. Photo Editor - Hannah Anderson
Sr. Associate, Brand Marketing & Partnerships - Anna Palmer
Co-founder and Principal - Ken Byers
Creative Director - Shabazz Larkin
Designer - Annette Morgan
Producer - Connor Carroll
Account Supervisor - Ashlinn Romagnoli
Public Relations - Garland Harwood, Alan Keane, Jeanne Montone, Renee McDonald
Editor - Andy Peters
Colorist - Beau Leon @Framestore
Sound Design - NPALL Audio
Visual Effects - Fourth Crown
Production - Gear Seven Creative
Director, Brand Manifesto - Eric Ryan Anderson
Director, Love Letters - Josh McGowan