Comedians Bring a Holistic Glow to Facial Ads From Massage Envy

Normalizing a sometimes confusing bit of self-care

You know how cars need maintenance, or bike chains need regular oiling? Faces are like that, too. 

At least, that's what Massage Envy hopes to convey with "Start with a Facial." Created by Fallon and directed by Dave McCary, who's made a career out of quirky scenarios, the campaign features comedians Vanessa Bayer and Arturo Castro, improv'ing through facials. The comedians appear in two ads each, a :30 and :15 variant, though the latter are blessedly not just cuts from their lengthier siblings. 

Here's Bayer in her :30 closeup, so relaxed that she's taken back to "that time before social media existed." We no longer remember what that time was like. Probably quiet. 

Start With a Facial | Vanessa :30

And here's 30 seconds of Castro, who, while receiving a soft layer of "papayan slime," muses, "Where do dead skin cells go when they die?" Probably the same place we all do eventually: slowly and subtly, buffeted by the wind, into someone else's food.

Start with a Facial | Arturo :30

The ads are backed by waltzy chords and feature two phrases: "Start with a facial" and "Keep your body working." The hope is to make facials feel less like a luxury treatment and more like normal upkeep, like visiting the dentist every six months, except you can fall asleep without fear of receiving a root canal. 

"Skin care is highly personal but also extremely confusing when it comes to routine, products and what to expect," says Patrick Figueroa, executive creative director at Fallon. "So we brought in people who have absolutely nothing to do with skincare … to make facials feel as approachable as they are at Massage Envy." 

In her :15 piece, Bayer admits that, during facials, she sometimes wonders what's getting put on her face, but normally just sleeps through the whole event. The whole "Sometimes when I get a facial" bit lends the sense she does this on a regular basis, and makes the idea of falling asleep feel OK for those who worry about the etiquette. 

Start With a Facial | Vanessa :15

Without the usual "treat yo'-self" vibes of this category, and considering she's a totally normal person (apart from being on SNL and having hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers), it's easy to wonder whether facials really are something totally normal people do on a regular basis. 

That's the gentle genius lying in the work: There's really nothing to see here but chatty people poking fun at the process or finding different treatments weird, which is how you might feel when you're not a sparklefaced star with a Swiss staff and virgin towels on call. Even if you don't find it all funny, the whole thing feels overwhelmingly normcore. 

Here's Castro again, using his :15 spot to explain what steam's used for. 

Start with a Facial | Arturo :15

"We are so excited about our new facial campaign," says Massage Envy CMO Kathy Collins. "This memorable campaign will undoubtedly help increase consumer interest and trial."

This year, Massage Envy, apparently the largest provider of skincare services in the U.S., will increase its spend for facial ads to 50 percent, up from 20 percent in 2019. 

The "Start with a Facial" campaign will run on national and connected TV and online video. It will be supported across radio and all the usual social networks, including TikTok, which the government doesn't trust, but nobody who actually matters cares. 


Client: Massage Envy
Kathy Collins, CMO
Jeanna Corley, VP Digital Strategy & Analytics
Phillip McKee, Director of Marketing Strategy & Media

Agency: Fallon
Patrick Figueroa, Executive Creative Director
Joe Johnson, Creative Director
Kelsey O'Briant, Art Director
Christine Taffe, Copywriter
Pat Sidoti, Head of Production
Patrick Gantert, Producer
Erin Tait, Group Strategy Director
Marc Mason, Group Account Director
Kelly Holley, Account Director
Julia Frayne, Account Manager
Greg Swan, Director of Social
Mara Keller, Social Media Strategist
Sadie Hedge, Social Media Strategist

Production company: Caviar
Director: Dave McCary
Executive producers: Michael Sagol, Jasper Thomlinson, Kim Dellara, Casey Wooden
Line producer: Maggie McLean

Edit: Whitehouse
Editor: Brian Gannon
Edit assistants: Joe Cull and Nelson Mustain
Senior producer: Annie Maldonado
Producer: Jordan Stricklin

Color grade: MPC
Colorist: Kris Smale
Executive Producer: Meghan Lang
Producer: Sasha Pace

Post production: MPC
Flame artist: Alex Kolasinski
Executive Producer: Elexis Stearn
Producer: Ciaran Birks

Mix: Eleven Sound
Mixer and sound designer: Ben Freer
Assistant mixer: Andrew Smith
Executive producer: Melissa Elston
Producer: Imani Franklin

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

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