#BoldIsBeautiful: A Campaign with a Difference

Each year, Benefit Cosmetics shape over 5 million eyebrows. For the month of May, the American cosmetics company want to transform their most popular treatment into a vehicle for charitable change.

Bold_is_beautiful_benefit_cosmetics_minnie_melangeBenefit Cosmetics was founded as a single boutique in San Francisco, California by Jean and Jane Ford in 1976. Originally named ‘The Face Place’, the twin sisters’ boutique was a haven for cosmetic quick-fixes, many born out of the sisters’ experience in the modelling industry. The development of the brand initially evolved at an even pace, with product expansion outlined in 1989 and a counter in US department store Henri Bendel erected in 1991.

The brand’s international reputation grew in the late nineties, with Benefit Cosmetics first appearing in the UK in 1997, but it was the brand’s acquisition by conglomerate LVMH in 1999 that cemented it’s trans-Atlantic reach and reputation. Benefit Cosmetics offer over 160 products with the brand’s tagline, ‘Laughter is the best cosmetic’, permeating through the bold design and witty captioning of each item -. An ethos and catalogue which women have viscerally embraced over the past four decades.

On a recent visit to Dublin, Global Beauty Ambassador (and daughter of Jean Ford), Maggie Ford Danielson, noted that it was this 40th anniversary that gave the company pause. “We felt that it was time for us, as a company, to give back in a globally structured and impactful way. The Bold is Beautiful Project is about aligning our brand DNA of female empowerment and transferring that ethos beyond the make-up counter and into communities and charitable organisations.”

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Minnie and Maggie

How will it work? Maggie explained the mechanics of the Bold is Beautiful Project as, “During the month of May, across the thirteen brow bars in Ireland, 100% of the proceeds of every brow wax service will be given directly to two charities.”

In Ireland, a brow wax at Benefit costs €16, but Maggie explained that the company is offering an additional thank you, as “each brow wax customer in May will also be gifted with a free full-sized ‘Gimme Brow’, which retails at €25.50.”

Great news for the customer, but what about the charities?

In choosing two charities, Benefit asked the Irish team to contemplate three particular vehicles by which women and girls are empowered – through wellness, through education and mentorship, and through self-sufficiency. It was important to Benefit that although the project was administered globally, the local markets would benefit from the monies raised in their jurisdiction. Thus, the money donated by Irish women and girls, will change the lives of other Irish women and girls.

In Ireland, the selected charities are Look Good Feel Better and Daisy House.

Look Good Feel Better is an international organisation that “supports women with the visable side effects during their cancer treatment by providing practical advice in workshops, facilitated by professional beauty and hair advisers in hospitals across Ireland.”

Daisy House is a local charity that provides temporary accommodation and personalised support programmes for women in Ireland who are homeless. They offer “support, time and a safe space where women can recover from the trauma of their experience, feel safe and secure and, in time, move forward in their lives”.

Perhaps choosing to align a cosmetics brand with Look Good Feel Better is an obvious selection but Daisy House is not. Something which even Daisy House was surprised by. Maggie explains that Benefit “have had a lot of feedback from Daisy House and Refuge (UK charity partner). They are impressed that a company like Benefit is not publicly shying away from issues such as substance or domestic abuse. When we talk about charity and giving in society, so often it’s easier to frame that discussion in relation to children, education or illness, but the work that Daisy House does is so vital, giving money to such a charity can change the lives of women, their children and in turn, the future.”

#BoldIsBeautiful

The Bold is Beautiful Project began in 2015 with four test markets: US, UK, France and Australia. In 2016, Benefit have added five new markets: Spain, Singapore, Ireland, Canada and Dubai. Maggie mentions that “Last year’s goal was to raise $2million and we managed to surpass that, raising $2.9million. This year, our goal is raise $4million across our 9 global markets, but I’m confident that we’re going to exceed that target too.”

On launching the project, Maggie Ford Danielson insisted that ‘Bold is Beautiful’ is not a marketing campaign. Instead, the brand wants to use their voice and influence to highlight the work of two specific charities in each of their nine markets. That may seem trite, and the brand will benefit (ahem) from the positive publicity but I’m keen to believe that their intentions are good. $4 million will make a monumental difference to the lives of so many people around the world.

After all, LVMH’s ten companies within their ‘Perfume and Cosmetics’ portfolio made over €4.5billion in revenue in 2015, a 15% increase on the previous year. Benefit don’t need to give to charity, particularly a small Irish organisation, but they want to. For that reason alone, I’m looking forward to visiting their brow bar in May.

To make your May waxing appointment for the Bold is Beautiful Project, visit your local Benefit Brow Bar, or call the Benefit Boutique on South William Street, Dublin on (01) 447 5285. 

Written by

Sinéad Burke is an academic and a writer with an obsessive interest in fashion, education and 'Extraordinary Women'. She is an ambassador for the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and the National Women's Council of Ireland.

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