Revlon today launches a new video from Tatia Pilieva, director of last year's wildly popular "First Kiss" video, to show that makeup is about more than looking good – it also can improve relationships.
In "First Kiss" for clothing brand Wren, Ms. Pilieva captured the awkwardness, hotness and poignancy of strangers brought together to kiss for the first time. In Revlon's "Love Test," she captures the awkwardness, hotness and poignancy of couples talking about their relationships.
It's an advert-documentary to illustrate a study Revlon commissioned from anthropologists at Fordham University showing that when women add a "daily beauty ritual with makeup, fragrance, chocolate and a mirror" to their routines, it improves their relationships.
The sexist-sounding notion that women could spice up their love lives if they'd just spend a little more time putting on makeup isn't exactly the intention as Revlon CEO Lorenzo Delpani sees it.
"When you put on makeup, it's like opening yourself to the possibilities of love," Mr. Delpani said in an interview. The testing by Fordham anthropologists showed going through a beauty ritual for a few minutes daily "creates a different emotional outlook," he said.
The same effect is likely true for men, Mr. Delpani said, something he notices for himself at times in the breach when he doesn't shave or go through the rest of his usual grooming ritual on Saturdays.
"The Love Test," he said, confirmed the power of taking a "moment to love yourself first, be confident, and engage with your special self, not your ordinary self." This, he said, makes people "more fully open to the love around you, both to receiving and giving."
This puts an entirely different spin on women's beauty rituals vs. this summer's buzz over the "makeup tax," prompted by a comment Hillary Clinton made during a Q&A session on Facebook about the inherent unfairness of how much extra time it takes women to get ready every morning compared to men. A subsequent story on TheAtlantic.com noted that women may spend as much as $15,000 on makeup in their lifetimes, though also pointed to studies suggesting women wearing makeup are more likely to land prestigious jobs or get bigger tips as waitresses – but only from men.
Revlon's video isn't meant to address these issues, Mr. Delpani said. It's part of the year-old "Love Is On" campaign for Revlon, which he called "a radical bet" that's "seeking a new long-term position for our brand as something that can inspire and engage consumers on an emotional level." Over time, he said, Revlon had "converged into the beauty blender," with product-focused ads similar to the rest of the cosmetics industry. "We needed to again find our space."
The campaign aside, Revlon has taken some PR lumps this year. It turned off its Times Square "Kiss Cam" for a time earlier this month amid complaints from the New York Police Department that men were groping or stealing from women distracted by taking selfies at the interactive billboard. Revlon also reached an undisclosed settlement in March of a lawsuit by a former chief science officer accusing the Italian-born Mr. Delpani of making racist, anti-Semitic and anti-American comments. Revlon called the lawsuit and allegations "completely meritless."
Revlon's U.S. retail sales were down 1% in the 52 weeks ended Oct. 3, with market shares down modestly in all of its cosmetics categories during the period, according to Nielsen data from Deutsche Bank. But Mr. Delpani said qualitative research shows the "Love is On" campaign is emotionally connecting with consumers.
"This is not one of those campaigns that has a short-term impact or spike," he said. "It is meant to fuel the equity of Revlon. When you make an equity play, you have to stick with it for the long term."
WPP's Mediacom helped develop the "Love Test" concept, including prompting the study by Fordham, with help from production and talent-management company Pulse Films.