CoverGirl has Lili Reinhart, Ellen DeGeneres and Sofia Vergara. Revlon has Gal Gadot and Ashley Graham. L’Oreal has Camila Cabello, Elle Fanning and Helen Mirren. Now, Clinique has Emilia Clarke.
For the first time, the Estée Lauder-owned skincare and cosmetics brand will have a celebrity ambassador. The brand, founded in 1968, has never had a star spokesperson in its 50-year-plus history, despite the fact that such spokespeople are something of a beauty industry standard. Jane Lauder, Clinique’s global brand president, told Adweek there was a reason for the omission.
“Clinique has had a heritage of product as hero and that’s why you’ve never seen [a celebrity ambassador] before,” Lauder said. “It’s always about being able to see yourself in the product and not another person or celebrity.”
But the definition of celebrity—once a term for actresses, musicians and the like—has changed in our cultural vernacular. Its definition now includes social media stars and influencers, too. And with the evolution of the celebrity spokesperson, Lauder said, now felt like the right time to bring a celebrity into Clinique’s marketing mix.
“In the past the celebrity or influencer would be kind of a cold, distant image of unapproachable beauty,” Lauder said. “But as social media has broken down barriers in getting to know people, you really get to know the celebrities and you get their personality. There’s much more opportunity to use someone to express your brand’s DNA through these relationships.”
The challenge, of course, was in finding the right person. Clinique’s long history and its global reach meant many consumers already have their own preconceived notions about the brand and its personality, and that needed to be replicated in the right spokesperson.
“Clinique is so much about trust and that authenticity,” Lauder said. “It had to be someone that really was sincere and people felt that they were able relate to.”
The brand found its woman in Game of Thrones star Clarke, who has gained a reputation for her open nature, writing about her experience suffering from two brain aneurysms while filming the hit HBO show.
“We all felt she just embodies that charm,” Lauder said. “She’s funny, she’s smart, she’s a philanthropist, she’s way more than an actress. When we met her, we fell in love.”
Clarke’s willingness to show the negative and positive in her life reflected that new ideal of celebrity the brand was looking for.
“That desire to not create another distant sort of image of perfection in beauty and skincare was a really powerful driver,” said Clinique creative director Liz Nolan.
Clarke’s first campaign for Clinique centers around the brand’s Clinique iD collection, its line of customizable moisturizers that rolled out over a year ago. It’s a fitting product for Clarke to front the campaign for, as Clinique iD harks back to the brand’s original ethos of catering to all skin types and personalizing your routine.
“This notion that a celebrity can say ‘This is my Clinique iD, but it’s not yours,’ we thought that was really powerful,” Nolan said. “We’re trying to deliberately say ‘Here’s the solution. It’s your solution, it’s everyone’s solution, it’s my solution.’ We really try to make it about personalization.”