Estee Lauder celebrates the many #ShadesOfCanada

The inclusive campaign for the beauty brand's make-up line is supported by in-store events at HBC, Shoppers and Sephora.

esteeresizeYes, Canadians can (and do) buy makeup online, but holding up an arm next to a photo on a smartphone is not an ideal way to find the perfect foundation match.

“Especially when it comes to makeup, people are leveraging influencers and going on Instagram to learn more about makeup,” says Susy Brown, marketing director, Estée Lauder Canada. “But I really do feel like the in-store experience is what closes the sale. With makeup you still need to touch and feel, and at the end of the day you still need the guidance. It’s great to have a live expert who’s helping you through your process so we felt we needed the in-store as well as the digital.”

Estée Lauder Canada recently launched its #ShadesOfCanada campaign in support of its Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup with in-store events and promotions, which are complemented by online creative.

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The campaign, which promotes its popular foundation line that was first launched in 1997 and now comes in 56 shades, kicked off right before Canada Day with in-store signage and events at Hudson’s Bay stores. Windows outside the department store chain in Vancouver and Montreal currently feature models with varying skin tones promoting the brand’s top selling product in Canada.

The shopper marketing program was launched inside several Hudson’s Bay stores during the department store’s “Beauty Week” in late June, with customers receiving guidance from makeup consultants IRL. People at the event were also given a $13 foundation pump with the purchase of any Double Wear product.

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Following the Hudson’s Bay store activation, additional events will also be held in Shoppers Drug Mart’s Beauty Boutiques throughout July and August, and more events are planned for Sephora (which is also celebrating diversity these days) stores this September.

In Canada, Estée Lauder is considered a “heritage” brand that “may be perceived to be for a more mature customer,” says Brown. The #ShadesOfCanada campaign is a chance to reach out to both current fans and new customers.

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For the campaign, the brand tapped a wide range of people, from the young male Canadian dancer by way of Ukraine, Oleg Kasynets, to the stylish septuagenarian Judith Bradley, who only started modelling in her 60s.

Susy Brown Headshot

“Ultimately we want all [people] to see themselves in this campaign,” says Brown (pictured right). “We wanted storytelling to happen so we wanted models who had a story to tell.”

It was also important to reflect the “cultural mosaic” here, added the marketing director. In a first since Brown has been with Estée Lauder Canada, her two-person marketing team (along with A Plus Creative) got to work on a Canada-specific campaign from scratch instead of merely tweaking American, or global creative.

“We are quite different, we are not an additional state,” says Brown. “We are a country with our own cultural differences and we speak to a different consumer.”

Part of speaking to that consumer is blending the in-store experience with opportunities for online promotion, by offering Instagrammable visuals that encourage people to snap and share their in-store experiences. Estée Lauder Canada created an “Instagram-type frame that can be used for selfies” featuring the campaign hashtag #ShadesOfCanada to encourage people to pose and post pictures of themselves in their perfect foundation shade.. There was also a series of photos and videos posted to the brand’s Instagram page, featuring models with a range of skin tones, gender identities and ages.

Estée Lauder started her eponymous company back in 1946 with her husband in New York City. In recent years a bevvy of trendy competitors have cropped up that also celebrate diversity whilst courting millennial and Gen Z consumers, such as Glossier, Fenty Beauty by Rihanna and Kylie Cosmetics by Kylie Jenner. DTC brands have arguably changed the face of the beauty business, with the global Estée Lauder Company having responded by buying a stake in the modern and sometimes controversial Deciem brand (which was founded by the late Brandon Truaxe in Toronto) in 2017.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the hashtag, it is: #ShadesOfCanada. 

Clarification: This article has been updated to make clear the target of the campaign is both current fans and new customers.