This might just be the first silly putty-inspired beauty campaign; let’s hope it’s not the last

With a face mask campaign full of floating “meme-able” masks and Y2K toys, Breakfast for Dinner and Designsake want to push Gen Z branding into strange new places.

Date
28 April 2022

It’s hard to imagine a day when the 00s will truly be out of fashion; when we reach our limit with Motorola flip phones and 20-year-old Paris Hilton quotes – it's something which feels like an impossibility today. But as creative studio Breakfast for Dinner, design agency Designsake Studio, and beauty startup Experiment observed when creating the campaign for the latter’s new reusable sheet mask, Avant Guard, “Gen Z loves nostalgia but that vibe is really oversaturated right now,” asserts Lisa Guerrera, Experiment CEO and co-founder. So rather than diving into the same sea of references, Breakfast for Dinner jumped into a multicoloured blow-up paddling pool with greenish water, creating something more futuristic, fun and much, much weirder.

The Avant Guard launch campaign juggles a mixed bag of visual cues. The first, and not even the strangest for a beauty campaign, being 00s kids toys. “Nostalgic toys and props are always a huge inspiration to us,” Evan Sheehan and Alex Wallbaum co-creative directors at Breakfast for Dinner, explain. “We were hoping people, particularly Gen Z audiences, would see the images and play I Spy with them, recognise some of the props and have that ‘memory unlocked’ moment.” To maximise relatability, the team picked toys that span a range of years, from Tamagotchis and Game Boys to Slinkys. Brilliantly, Designsake and Breakfast for Dinner have particularly showcased toys that speak to the strange green form and texture of the face mask:

“Avant Guard is ultimately an extremely modern object, but is also a super playful product by nature, reminiscent of a sticky hand or stretchy toy you would win at Chuck E. Cheese. It doesn’t feel out of place to have it next to a Robot Dog or a Mousetrap board game,” says Alex and Evan.

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Breakfast for Dinner: Avant Guard (Copyright © Experiment, 2022)

While visually surprising, the choice to opt for toys is also refreshingly rooted in the brand of Avant Guard as a fun but science-backed beauty product. The campaign team also draws specifically from toys brought to you by chemistry, like glow sticks, silly putty and lava lamps. Danielle McWaters, creative director at Designsake Studio, explains that the shoot began with the team thinking about the intersections of science and play, asking “questions like ‘what are your earliest memories of science and experimentation?’ and ‘what items do you remember playing with as a kid that inspired a sense of discovery’?” Finally, Lisa adds: “The dot-com boom and its after-effects is what really affected our consumers’ childhood so we took inspo from old Microsoft computers, flip phones, and older TV sets we grew up with. That’s how we arrived at the Microsoft background mask pic and props for the group shot.”

But that’s not all. Designsake Studio and Breakfast for Dinner have also managed to tap into the absurd, and unsettling look of wearing a face mask to begin with. Alex and Evan explain: “There is something really eerie about a sheet mask in general, but it is made even more eerie when it isn’t on a face and is just floating around. We knew that we would be photographing the mask off models for the majority of the campaign, so it made sense to lean into this eeriness as opposed to fighting it.” In efforts to move away from the too-serious beauty landscape, Experiment have embraced the tongue-in-cheek horror undertones with specimen jars and art gallery podiums in shot. Lisa confirms: “The lime green colour became essential in making the mask into a meme-able object that you could joke about and share on social media. We had so many people saying it gave them ‘Shrek vibes’ or ‘The Mask’ vibes or ‘Jason’ vibes.”

As for other final aspects on the shoot, Designsake Studio played into the “very editorial” product packaging direction of Avant Guard, says Danielle. “We played that up with conceptualising a shot with oversized packaging inside a newspaper stand.” The director concludes: “The idea is that the ‘headline’ is Avant Guard, the only reusable sheet mask you will ever need.”

GalleryBreakfast for Dinner: Avant Guard (Copyright © Experiment, 2022)

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Breakfast for Dinner: Avant Guard (Copyright © Experiment, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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