Why Saatchi & Saatchi Took the Horror Route for Olay’s First Super Bowl Spot

The team behind the spooky ad discusses inspiration

Sarah Michelle Gellar stars in Olay's first Super Bowl ad. - Credit by Olay
Headshot of Diana Pearl

Olay’s first Super Bowl ad ever—#KillerSkin, a horror-themed spot by Saatchi & Saatchi starring Sarah Michelle Gellar of I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 2 fame—was undoubtedly a unique approach. No other brand ran a true horror spot; few have in years past. And that was exactly what Olay was going for: something fun and unexpected.

“People come to the Super Bowl not only for the game, but to be entertained,” said Stephanie Robertson, Olay’s North American brand director. “They want to feel something, and we want to bring something fun and unexpected so not only our female fans, but all fans find a really great message from Olay.”

The resulting ad featured Gellar and a male companion running upstairs to hide in the bedroom as a masked man breaks into their home. Gellar attempts to unlock her phone using Face ID, but the phone doesn’t recognize her face—because she’s been using Olay. When the intruder does enter, he forgets his pursuit, instead complimenting Gellar on her “movie star” face.

The team wanted to illustrate the physical change consumers see when using Olay products.

“The message … that really had to come through was skin transformation,” said Taras Wayner, Saatchi & Saatchi’s CCO. “[We] wanted to make sure that it not only resonated with the technology that people are using, but also showed the product benefit.”

Showing a photo of Gellar’s (slightly terrifying) “before Olay” face compared with her current acts as “a heightened demo” for the product, said Wayner.

“Sarah’s been using it for 28 days. She gets caught in this situation—you could reference the fact that maybe she gets caught in this all the time,” he joked, referencing Gellar’s history of starring in horror films like I Know What You Did Last Summer. “She can’t unlock her phone because she’s been using it for 28 days, and the product benefit becomes a great comedic moment.”

Gellar’s filmography made her the “perfect star” for the spot, Wayner added.

According to Olay, despite the fact that nearly 50 percent of the NFL’s fanbase is female, only a quarter of Big Game ads feature women, a statistic that inspired the team to take action. Though #KillerSkin may be, at its core, about reaching out to women during an event that often ignores them, Roberston said the brand wanted to make sure it was something all viewers of the Big Game could appreciate.

“It’s overdue for brands that are speaking to women to take a stand on this big stage,” said Robertson. “[We want to] make sure we’re inclusive to all fans with a great message that hopefully people find fun and entertaining.”


@dianapearl_ diana.pearl@adweek.com Diana is the deputy brands editor at Adweek and managing editor of Brandweek.
Publish date: February 4, 2019 https://dev.adweek.com/brand-marketing/why-saatchi-saatchi-took-the-horror-route-for-olays-first-super-bowl-spot/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT