3 Holiday Campaign Ideas from Top Beauty Brands

A Look at 3 Holiday Campaign Strategies from Sephora, eos and Benefit Cosmetics UK: What They Did, Why It Worked, and How You Can Model Their Success

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Every year, when the festive holiday season rolls around, we see a boost in digital marketing campaigns across all industries. But, more than many others, there is usually a noticeable rise in content from beauty brands. And, it’s no surprise, either. The health and beauty industry tops $80 billion in annual revenue in the US alone, and is set to rise even higher in the next few years.

Thanks to the rise of social media - and the “selfie generation” - beauty stays top-of-mind for most people. Filters aside, most people are still very conscious of their appearance and, whether actively or inactively, constantly on the lookout for products we think can help us in that area.

During the holiday season, beauty manufacturers pull out all the stops - holiday packaging, limited edition products, holiday-themed colors (and flavors) line store shelves for the sole purpose of enticing buyers to make holiday purchases. That means holiday marketing campaigns, and some of them are pretty awesome.

So today, we’re cataloging some of our favorite campaigns and providing that all important play-by-play analysis of why each campaign worked and some tips for how you can roll out similar campaigns for your own products.

Benefit Cosmetics UK

In 2015, Benefit Cosmetics UK launched a Twitter marketing campaign called #12DaysOfTweetmas. Taking inspiration from the famous Christmas carol, “The 12 Days of Christmas”, this beauty brand partnered with other industry names to hold exclusive giveaways everyday throughout the lead-up to Christmas. Each new day of “Tweetmas” they would announce the latest giveaway, and tell followers to RT the prize tweet, as well as follow Benefit on Twitter, and whichever company they had partnered up with.


A common giveaway tactic, the retweet chain helps to boost your account’s following, as well as get your tweets seen by more people thanks to the re-tweets. And, by partnering with other big name brands in the beauty world, they managed to extend their reach even further.

They saw some pretty impressive results for this campaign as well. As we can see from the tweet above, any given prize tweet was received hundreds, if not thousands of retweets in the hopes of winning the prize. Sure, some of the entrants were probably already following Benefit on Twitter, the brand undoubtedly attracted a good number more followers over the course of the campaign.

The most successful tweet in this campaign was on their 5th day of Tweetmas when Benefit partnered with hair care brand GHD to give away some of GHD’s incredibly popular hair care appliances. This tweet gained 3k retweets, 600 comments and 800 likes. Even for a brand as big as Benefit, this is a pretty impressive haul on Twitter. Benefit revved-up engagement of around two percent, which is good for a brand with such a large following (220K at the time).



Everything about Benefit’s campaign was totally on-brand for the company. As a business, Benefit has such a distinct brand voice. Followers will immediately recognize a post from the brand as it moves through their social feeds. These guys have truly managed to capture the perfect synergy of carrying their branding through every single aspect of their marketing. Having such a clear brand voice like this, makes it much easier for them to stand out in the incredibly busy world of Christmas campaigns on social media.

Their target market is young, fashion-forward women with a cool sense of style. This information has clearly influenced the brands they choose as partners, as well as the wording they use in their posts. Referring to their partners as “BFFs” keeps the messaging young and fresh, without sounding like they’re trying too hard.

The graphics they use in this campaign also perfectly balance on the line between clear branding and festive cheer. They manage to keep the images true-to-brand and easy to recognize, while still gracing us all with that warm, Christmas-y feeling.

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First thing: You have to know your audience. This goes for marketing in general, really. If you don’t know who you’re addressing, your message is only going to fall on deaf ears.

Next, when you start designing your festive campaign, do your best to stay on-brand while mixing in some holiday style. If you usually use a muted color palette, don’t suddenly switch to super bright reds and greens - stay true to your brand. You can still include festive elements - snowflakes, candy canes, reindeer, in a way that works with your brand, not against it.

Finally, don’t be afraid to partner with other brands. Of course, the business world is competitive, but working with other brands, instead of against them, can boost your reach, expand your audience, and help you bring in new customers. This is especially true when you work with other brands in the same niche as yours. A partnership between a company pushing its influencer-endorsed eye shadow palette may be a fantastic match for a brand with a eyebrow gel that’s currently trending. Work together to reach mutually-beneficial goals.


Isn’t Sephora like some sort of beauty casino? You get in there under the perfect lighting and completely lose track of time! One reason the beauty mega store is so famous is because it has such as phenomenal selection of cosmetics and skin care products! Cosmetics to suit every style, skin color, and budget… the store is a hub of beauty magic. As with many beauty brands, Sephora’s marketing materials featured flawless-looking [predominantly] white women. For its 2017 holiday campaign, Sephora change all of that.

Instead of working with professional models, they asked their own store employees to apply for the chance to star in their next campaign instead. Over 1,000 Sephora staff applied for this chance and 10 were selected. The chosen few were invited to participate because of their own unique definitions of beauty. The model search alone gained A LOT of publicity.


(Image : Sephora)

The theme for their campaign was “Reach Out and Gift”. It focused on how beauty can be an amazing gift, but is incredibly personal to each and every individual. To highlight this, they have gathered a beautifully diverse and individualistic selection of people to represent their brand.

Each of the selected Sephora team members starred in a video posted to the official Sephora Instagram account along with a short bio describing who they are, where they’re from, and what items are always in their makeup bags.


This campaign stood out from other Christmas marketing because it wasn’t actually focused that much on Christmas. Instead, it celebrated gift-giving in general, catering to a much more diverse audience than the typical festive fare. Even though Christmas is still the most popular winter holiday here in the US, it is by no means the only one.


By a campaign that is more inclusive, Sephora was able to market to a wider audience, without losing that Christmas shopper base that everyone else is tapping into. And, in today’s tumultuous political and cultural climate, that campaign would definitely have struck a chord with Millennial and Gen X customers.


Sephora focused on video content for this campaign, and didn’t limit the campaign to one social media platform. The YouTube video for the campaign attracted over 1.5 million views. Over on Instagram, the individual videos reached around 250k views each.

It also worked for the most fundamental reason - it appealed to a wider audience than most beauty campaigns. The campaign featured people from a variety of ethnicities, religions, and genders - all representing their own version of beauty. In a world where we are inundated with perfect images of super-styled influencers, it was a breath of fresh air for many, who could finally see themselves represented by a big brand online.


Don’t be afraid to stand out with your holiday marketing. At this time of year, people see post after post covered in glitter and bright red. It’s okay to dress-up your post with blue and fur instead. Also, remember that Christmas isn’t the only event being celebrated at the end of the year. Celebrate the diversity of your audience by talking about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Yule as well.

Use “regular people” in your marketing. Whether you dip into your own pool of staff members or ask your customers to be the new face of your campaign, using someone plucked from among the other flowers (was that lame?) can help people better connect with your brand. The beauty industry is notoriously filtered to perfection. But times are changing, and people are sorta over the perfection thing. Make your brand one of the names people associate with real beauty and you’ll be winning.


eos Lip Balm

Millennial favorite eos has mastered social media marketing (no coincidence that eos is one of our clients, either). The company’s distinctive round packaging already helps them to stand out in a sea of similar products, and they use this to their full advantage, creating well-designed and aesthetic Instagram posts for their feed. And, the company’s use of influencer-generated content helps it to broaden its reach even further.

#eosholidaysaver on Instagram

As many beauty brands do around the holidays, eos released special edition packaging and gift sets to entice buyers to use their products as gifts for loved ones. What they did do differently was employ influencers to help showcase their products in a different light.

Even without the Christmas packaging, eos has a fairly individual style - although there have been the inevitable copycats. Ahead of the holiday, the brand encouraged people to use actual lip balms to create Christmas craft projects.



eos brilliantly capitalized on both its unique product design, and its largely Millennial audience to create a holiday campaign that felt less like marketing, and more like a series of fun projects and challenges. Instead of telling you to buy their products this Christmas, they encouraged followers to use them as decorations, and fun holiday projects.

eos works because, at least for the sake of marketing, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its marketing campaigns make use of influencers, yes. But more, the influencers turn out the kind of content that engages people - by doing things like creating holiday eos gnomes - without selling to them.


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Again, we have to say it: The number one rule in influencer marketing is to know your audience. This is where eos really shines. By knowing what eos consumers like to do with their spare time, where they are hanging out online, and how to market products to the demographic without annoying them, eos puts itself in the unique position to shape memorable campaigns that boost awareness and drive sales.

Use the knowledge you have on your target audience to dictate where you conduct your marketing, and what kind of influencers would be best for partnerships. Eos worked with influencers in the same niche as their consumers - young, stylish, and crafty. This helped them to reach people who may not have known about their product previously.

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Your Holiday Marketing

Whether your brand is in the beauty industry or not, the marketing campaigns we cited above are great examples of how to master your holiday marketing. Being in the business of making people look and feel good, one thing that beauty brands have to be good at is looking good themselves. You’ll notice that every campaign has a striking aesthetic, it needs to in order to showcase their product effectively. But, let’s think about your holiday marketing. Here are some tips to follow to make your campaign a hit.

  • Stay on brand: Don’t go too Christmas crazy with your content. Sprinkle the festive spirit over your existing brand, sure, just don’t lose who you are in all that glitter. Whatever kind of campaign you decide to run, make sure your brand can still be heard through all the fairy lights.

  • Dare to be different: If you want to stand out and get noticed, you’re going to have to do things a little differently to your competition. Don’t be afraid to take your holiday marketing in a whole new direction this year.

  • Make the most of holiday packaging: If your brand is planning on using holiday centric packaging, make this a big part of your digital marketing too. Having packaging that already shows off that holiday spirit can be a big plus for your visual content online too.

  • Start early: But not too early. Don’t be that person who decorates their whole house the first day of October. Just bear in mind that Christmas does seem to be starting earlier and earlier every year, so make sure your campaign is ready to go as soon as November rolls around.

  • Use a dedicated hashtag: This one works with most marketing campaigns, but especially so around Christmas. By using a dedicated hashtag, you’re encouraging the creation of UGC and giving you more content to share on your own accounts.

Which beauty brand campaigns do you love? Let us know in the comments below!

If you want to work with influencers this holiday season, you’re going to need a strategy

The Shelf is an influencer marketing company that designs and implements the highest performing campaigns in the lifestyle space (fashion, beauty, mommy, food, travel, home, DIY, health, and fitness). If you’re reading this post and wondering how to use Snapchat, Instagram, IGTV, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube to get your brand in front of buyers, we’ve got you covered. Sign up for a demo to get your custom proposal.

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