Was that Super Bowl ad worth it? The CFO of e.l.f. Beauty weighs in
“Personally, my phone has been nonstop with calls and texts from family and friends,” Mandy Fields, CFO at e.l.f. Beauty, told me.
I checked in with Fields following the cosmetics brand airing its first-ever television commercial during Super Bowl LVII on Sunday night as the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles faced off in the annual final playoff game to determine the league champion.
Last week, I sat down with Fields to talk about e.l.f.’s (NYSE: ELF) 16 consecutive quarters of net sales growth (including a 49% increase in net sales for the three months ending Dec. 31) and what makes it the favorite brand of Gen Zers. But this week, the buzz is the company’s commercial featuring actress Jennifer Coolidge, who has a comical take on e.l.f.’s (eyes, lips, and face) popular Power Grip Primer, which is a base for makeup to stay in place. In the commercial, hilarity ensues after Coolidge applies the product. Whatever she picks up sticks to her hands, and her cell phone even sticks to her face.
“What I love most about this campaign is that it all started with our community,” Fields says, describing how e.l.f. users generated the hashtag #powergripprimer which has garnered more than 70 million views on TikTok. That’s helped make the primer the No. 2 SKU across all of mass cosmetics, she says.
“Our community loves its stickiness, so we took the stickiest star in beauty (Power Grip Primer), with the stickiest icon in culture (Jennifer Coolidge, who is also an e.l.f. fan), at the stickiest event of the year (The Big Game),” Fields says. Surprisingly, Fields says the ad went from concept to delivery in mere weeks. The script was co-written by Mike White creator of HBO’s The White Lotus, and Shadow, a creative marketing agency. The paid media strategy and planning were prepared by performance marketing firm Tinuiti.
Last month, Coolidge won the Golden Globe for best supporting actress in a limited series for her role in The White Lotus. The 61-year-old actress, who’s widely popular, is also on TikTok. “The 30-second spot will continue post-game airing on 78 national networks including TBS, Lifetime, BET, E!, Bravo, and MTV to name a few,” says Fields, CFO at the company since 2019.
The average cost for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl ranged between $6 and $7 million, and the event drew a viewership of some 113 million.
During our chat last week, Fields said she’s “super involved in marketing,” working closely with e.l.f. Beauty CMO Kory Marchisotto, and explained how marketing to Gen Z is a high priority. “e.l.f. products are $6 AUR [average unit retail], versus others, in mass market, at $9 or more, or prestige, where the cost of entry is about $22 or more,” she said. Over the past four years, e.l.f. Beauty has increased its marketing investment from 7% of net sales up to the high end of the company’s target range of 19%, she said. Driving the business forward through profitable top line growth is a top priority for Fields.
Although cost management is a high priority for CFOs this year, some companies are seizing the opportunity to grow market share, and are getting more bang for their buck right now, according to Jason McDannold, a managing director in the private equity and investors practice at AlixPartners. “We see winning companies using times of disruption not only to cut costs but prepare for the inevitable pivot to growth,” McDannold recently told me.
Fields and her team will be closely monitoring the ROI on the Super Bowl ad. But she’s hoping it’s a touchdown.
See you tomorrow.
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