This has been a big week for us at LFF because our first serious attempt at a TV ad campaign has just gone live in the UK. One of my challenges since I launched Look Fabulous Forever in 2013 has been working with creative teams to find interesting ways to get our message out to potential customers.
Design creatives are often young and male. They are therefore the diametric opposite of me and you! They have to imagine themselves into our shoes and then come up with their version of what they think would attract our attention. And what they come up with is often depressingly way off the mark. I can’t tell you how many presentations I have sat through and thought ‘Really? Is that the best you can do to persuade me that a) you are the people who can deliver a sparkling campaign and b) that I would be turned on by the ideas that you have come up with!’ So, when you finally see some ideas which start the pulses racing, then you know that just maybe, here are some creative folk who can finally deliver the right message in the right way.
So I thought I’d share with you some of the thinking behind our new TV ads, how we went about filming them and also to show you the finished result. The process started a while ago with someone called Johnny Ng who, despite being young and male, really did seem to understand what we are all about. After a considerable amount of background research he came up with a sort of manifesto for us which encapsulated our vision and values. You may think ‘what a palaver - surely you’re just selling makeup!’ but even in the days before I launched the business, I knew that I wanted Look Fabulous Forever to be about a whole lot more than makeup. Johnny Ng came up with the following statement:
‘We are not just a beauty brand. We are leading a movement to celebrate mature beauty, to challenge perceptions and to embrace the benefits of ageing. We are on a mission to lasso a whole generation to look feel and live more fabulously.’
At the time I had just started writing my book ‘Living the Life More Fabulous’ and this manifesto helped me to get really clear about the content - this was exactly what I passionately wanted the book to convey!
Now we had our manifesto, we could look for people who could help us to translate it into compelling images and words to attract women who might be interested in our story and our makeup. As usual there were some false starts and then we met a team called Dancing Aardvarks (don’t ask!) What differentiated them from all the others was the age of the two main aardvarks who were in their 60’s. They came to see us having done some impressive background research which included setting up a focus group at a local pottery class, attended by one of their wives and several other women in our target market. Having shown them our manifesto and our first (fairly uninspiring) TV ad, this focus group said that they loved the manifesto but were not so keen on the advertisement. This was helpful and constructive feedback and we were really impressed with the creative solutions that the aardvarks then showed us to make some compelling ads.
We decided to make two types of advertisement, one to ‘challenge perceptions’ according to the manifesto and one which would be more specifically product focussed.
As usual we were keen to use real women as opposed to models, and also to show women whose faces were ‘unaltered’ in the sense that they had not undergone cosmetic surgery. So we looked to those customers that we have featured before in makeovers and video shoots. Ads aimed at my age group almost invariably feature women with white or grey hair as the main signifier of age, but I was keen to get away from this convention and include as many different hair colours as possible to better reflect real life. We wanted the women to be wearing their own clothes but realised that we needed to work with a stylist so that she could coordinate the overall look of the ad. Once we had our 10 models, we booked a studio for two days and prepared for filming.
Meanwhile, the BBC contacted me to be interviewed by Anne Robinson for a programme called ‘What Women Want’ to be shown in June. They wanted me to share my views about ageism, facelifts and why I’d started LFF to challenge the ‘anti-ageing’ rhetoric of the beauty industry. They thought that the filming of the ads would give them a great backdrop for the interview. So on the first morning of the shoot we had a full film crew filming us filming the advertisements! I won’t pretend that this was easy, because it was very nerve-wracking, especially as the producer didn’t want Anne and I to talk before our interview on camera. However everyone behaved with great professionalism and our ‘models’ were fantastic, especially when they were being grilled by Anne about why they weren’t interested in having cosmetic surgery. The rest of the two days passed in a blur. I hope that all the women that participated would say that they had fun and enjoyed the experience. From our perspective, we were thrilled with how truly fabulous they all looked and how enthusiastically they all participated in what was required of them.
The two 30 second advertisements were finalised a couple of weeks ago when we went to a special sound studio to watch the process of adding the voiceover. The voiceover artist was so good at her job that this was accomplished almost in a single take and then we were able to sign them off! We finally had two advertisements which we felt really embodied the spirit of our brand! These ads went live on Tuesday this week on some smaller digital channels with the odd ‘bigger’ regional spot after ‘This Morning’ and during ‘Loose Women.’ We’d love it to go out on all ITV regions on their big daytime programmes (my favourite would be Tipping Point!) but we just cannot afford those spots on our limited budget.
So here are both 30 second ads and I hope you love them. As always we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section - I will look forward to receiving your feedback.