Sephora ensures authenticity as it celebrates Indigenous beauty

The retailer engaged internal and external advisors every step of the way as it continues efforts to create change in the beauty industry.

Sephora

While some brands have struggled to improve representation of Indigenous people in their marketing, Sephora Canada is trying to be a leader on that front by simply doing what they have asked for: getting out of the way so their voices can be heard.

The retailer’s new campaign, which is its first for National Indigenous History Month, is the latest entry in the “We Belong to Something Beautiful” brand platform, Deborah Neff, SVP of marketing for Sephora Canada, told strategy.

It features an entirely Indigenous cast and crew in an array of videos and images that are being showcased across the company’s digital platforms – including its website and social media accounts – as well as in its 80 Canadian retail locations. A hero spot for the campaign shows that, despite the wrongs inflicted on Indigenous peoples over the last several hundred years, they are “still here” – growing, thriving and celebrating the beauty in who they are and what they do.

Involving Indigenous partners in all areas of the campaign’s creation “was critical” to deliver the authenticity required to share their stories, Neff says.

The campaign shows a wide array of Indigenous talent, including throat singer Shina Novalinga and TikTok content creator Michelle Chubb, who will be among the collaborators showcased during the campaign and in two spotlight videos telling their stories. But Sephora also exclusively employed Indigenous talent to work behind the scenes on production, wardrobe, styling, music and photography, with one of Sephora’s own Indigenous beauty advisors providing makeup on-set.

Further, Anishinaabekwe artist, activist and filmmaker Sarain Fox of Landback Studios served as a campaign advisor and narrated the campaign video.

Sephora also engaged an internal advisory team made up of Indigenous beauty advisors, who were among those that told the company that it should still proceed with the campaign following the recent discovery at a former Kamloops residential school, as it made it that much more clear that stories of Indigenous people claiming their place in this country was needed.

The efforts, collectively, are part of a push by the retailer to be a leader in promoting diversity within the beauty industry, following previous well-received campaigns for Diwali and the Lunar New Year. Neff has previously told strategy that representation is important for the “We Belong to Something Beautiful” platform, as it is what leads to inclusivity, education and, ultimately, breaking down some of the biases that exist within Sephora’s industry and the communities in which it operates.

“We know we are in a position to influence positive change in the beauty industry and it is our responsibility to lead,” says Neff.

Sephora is also looking to ensure the intent of the campaign is backed up by what it does with its business. It will be bringing Indigenous beauty brand Cheekbone Beauty to its ecommerce platform within the next year, a month after it committed to the Fifteen Percent Pledge to dedicate 25% of its brand offering to BIPOC-owned brands by 2026. On the CSR front, Sephora Canada is matching donations up to $25,000 for its June Charity Rewards partner, 2-Spirited People of 1st Nations.

The company managed all creative for the campaign in-house, while Publicis’ SephoraONE managed the digital media buy and The Colony Project handled PR.