Olay goes with the 'flow,' adding Badger & Winters for new campaign

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OLAY_DeniseBidot Credit: Olay

Procter & Gamble Co.'s Olay has tapped Badger & Winters for a new #FaceAnything campaign, which breaks with a spread in Vogue and will expand to Times Square and Grand Central placements, events and social media.

Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi remains agency of record on Olay, which has seen a turnaround this year after years of struggles. But Chris Heiert, the brand's North America and global VP, says he still wanted to add a shop, taking advantage of the "flow" side of P&G's new "Fixed and Flow" model, which combines a broad agency of record with projects for other shops.

Heiert says he's admired Badger & Winters' work, including the corporate #WeSeeEqual campaign launched last year, enough to have the shop handle one of P&G's most prominent billion-dollar brands. Principal Madonna Badger has been personally involved, he says. Small Girls, New York, is handling PR behind the effort and Momentum Worldwide is handling a New York Fashion Week event.

"Saatchi & Saatchi continues to be super important," Heiert says. "They've done a lot of the work that's helped get Olay back to growth. But we also want to expand our agency roster as we're putting more marketing and more advertising in more places to get more content relevant to each medium."

The new campaign includes comedian Lilly Singh, gold medalist Aly Raisman and plus-size model Denise Bidot among others in ads highlighting how they've overcome challenges and fears. The message is about empowering women to be themselves – starting with their skin –while ignoring haters and labels.

Female empowerment ads have gone from novelty to commonplace in beauty ads since Unilever's Dove kickstarted the genre in 2004. But it's more of a departure for Olay, whose ads long have focused mainly on performance and science.

OLAY_PieraGilardi Credit: Olay

And there's some of that here too, though more subtly. The campaign will include a "makeup-free" New York Fashion Week show in September, where women will walk the runway sans makeup after taking Olay's "28 Day Challenge," to showcase how their skin changes after four weeks of using the products.

The "no makeup" look has driven buzz, and some distress, for the cosmetics industry in recent years. But it's far from a movement to end beauty products, since much of the commentary urges participants to spend on skincare products instead. Having sold CoverGirl and other makeup lines in 2016, P&G is in a good position from which to hop on the bandwagon.

After being a drag on P&G sales numbers for many years, Olay's turnaround has helped make beauty the fastest-growing part of the business in the past year. New products, such as the Olay Regenerist Whip weightless formula, have been key, but the whole line has returned to growth Heiert says. Olay moisturizer sales are up 4.5 percent for the year and 8.2 percent for the four weeks ended July 14, according to Nielsen data from Deutsche Bank.

Part of that is reaching more women and households, Heiert says, and #FaceAnything aims to support that by showcasing Olay as "an inclusive brand."

"We want to consistently bring new users in, especially the younger generation," he says. "We call her the Mi-30 – the millennial who's approaching 30."

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