Today, beauty retailer Sephora is unveiling a new route for its brand with a campaign by French mega agency BETC called The Unlimited Power of Beauty. With beauty marketing being perhaps one of the most pervasive in contemporary culture, it’s not only difficult to stand out but to appear authentic. This campaign does so adeptly by working with two stellar creatives known for capturing realistic and inclusive stories of beauty: British photographer Nadine Ijewere and German filmmaker Jonas Lindstroem.
Lindstroem has created the brand film for the campaign, which tells a familiar story: one of a girl growing up, dealing with and learning to embrace her own unique identity, as her looks develop and change throughout her life. The way it’s told, however, differentiates from other similar films, with Lindstroem’s gentle, illuminative touch lending a subtle power.
“A lot of things were quite special about this project, but the casting process was the most fun and most intense,” Lindstroem tells It’s Nice That. “From the get-go it was clear we want to tell the story of one woman as she grows up, spanning the huge timeframe starting at five years old – casting was done in three cities and we saw hundreds of women until we finally had these six in front of us, and it clicked.” Lindstroem worked with casting director Dominique Booker, whose “eye for this made the story come to life,” the director says, and in a funny twist of fate, ended up being the narrator for the final film.
The brief to Lindstroem from creative director Florence Bellisson’s team at BETC was to find “a modern way to talk about beauty” with a coming of age story. The agency wanted the director to bring his distinct visual world to the campaign film, and worked with him to develop the chapters and characters, making sure they had “depth, realness and relatability”.
“It was always very interesting that it wasn’t just a typical advertising story of the happy, picture perfect life. We wanted real characters, we wanted to tell the ups and downs of any life, struggles, doubts, moments of joy; intimate, joyful, hard and soft.”
Aiming to be intimate and genuine, Lindstroem says the biggest challenge was understanding the nuances of the woman’s perspective, and picturing that with the right sensibilities. “[I drew] from experiences growing up around my sister, my mother – or today, my girlfriend – my everyday experiences around wonderful women... to ultimately make sure this story is told with the care and sensibility it deserves.”
To accompany the film, Nadine Ijewere has photographed a diverse cast for a series of prints that advertise Sephora’s departments (perfume, make-up, skin care, etc.) and show different types of beauty, regardless of age, gender, physique or style. Each is accompanied by a statement, envisioned as confidence-building mantras to be repeated in the mirror. “We hope that it will create room for self-expression, showing the variety of authentic and powerful beauties that make up today's world,” says BETC’s Rémi Babinet. “This campaign shows a new vision of women: more natural, more ‘real’, relatable, aspirational. It has a real message about self-identity and self-building, all without imposing standards to adhere to. If the audience takes that away, we will have achieved our goal.”