TV & Streaming

E.l.f. Cosmetics is bringing the ‘Suits’ cast—and Judge Judy—together for the Super Bowl

After running a regional ad last year, e.l.f. is in the game with a national campaign.
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E.l.f. Cosmetics

· 4 min read

E.l.f. Cosmetics is betting that there will be demand for beauty content at this year’s Super Bowl. And that was even before the Kansas City Chiefs—and, therefore, Taylor Swift—secured their spot in the game.

The two-decade-old beauty brand, known for its repeated TikTok virality, ran its first regional Super Bowl campaign last year with a spot starring Jennifer Coolidge. That ad performed “way outside of our expectations,” according to CMO Kory Marchisotto, so this year, e.l.f. opted for a national buy—and an even bigger cast of celebrities.

“The reason we showed up at the Big Game last year is because we had a hypothesis that women were being underserved,” even though they represent a substantial share of Super Bowl viewers, Marchisotto told Marketing Brew. “After the game, we said, ‘How did we do on that hypothesis?’...Not only did people want us there, but they wanted more entertainment from e.l.f. They wanted us to put more people like Jennifer Coolidge on a big stage.”

Who’s who

While Coolidge isn’t in e.l.f.’s 2024 ad, another cultural powerhouse is: Judge Judy Sheindlin, aka Judge Judy. The 30-second spot, titled “Judge Beauty,” tells the tale of a woman, played by Gina Torres of Suits, standing trial for overspending on makeup.

The ad also features Torres’s former Suits co-stars Rick Hoffman and Sarah Rafferty; singer Meghan Trainor; sports analyst and former NFL player Emmanuel Acho; Jury Duty’s Ronald Gladden; Sarah Rose, Sheindlin’s granddaughter and law clerk on Sheindlin’s Freevee series Justice Judy; HeidiNCloset from RuPaul’s Drag Race; and TikToker Benito Skinner.

Stay relevant

Why reunite the Suits cast plus so many other celebs? Besides the fact that star power is all but table stakes for a Super Bowl ad, it’s an effort to keep e.l.f. in “the cultural zeitgeist,” as Marchisotto put it.

“We know that courtroom drama is hot,” she said. Translation: Seemingly everyone spent the past year watching Suits (for a grand total of 57.7 billion minutes in 2023, per Nielsen) and binging Jury Duty.

Other casting decisions serve as “little winks and nods” to culture, even if the stars aren’t exactly tied to courtrooms, according to Brian Vaughan, partner and ECD of e.l.f.’s longtime creative agency Shadow. Meghan Trainor, for instance, previously appeared in an ad for the brand, while Skinner plays “Kooper the e.l.f. intern” in the spot—a nod to “Kooper the Gen Z intern,” a character he portrays in his social content.

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“We wanted it to feel really intentional, have that signature e.l.f. wink that we are tuned into culture, and also have it be reflective of their community,” Vaughan told us. “It wasn’t an exercise in just getting the biggest celeb at the time, but really being dialed into the community, thinking about what was trending, and what really makes sense for the narrative.”

Suits Roots

The product featured in the ad, e.l.f.’s Halo Glow Liquid Filter, was also chosen for its cultural relevance: It was the brand’s best-selling item last year, according to Marchisotto.

Given the role of social media in e.l.f.’s past marketing successes, it’s probably no surprise that the Super Bowl campaign goes beyond the TV spot. The week before it released the full ad, the brand dropped teaser videos on channels like Instagram and TikTok. The team dedicated an entire day of its two-day shoot just to filming social content, according to Vaughan.

“The Super Bowl is an incredible media placement, but we don’t want to ever abandon e.l.f.’s home territory, which is on social,” he said. “It was really important to us that this wasn’t just a TV commercial.”

Big picture

When e.l.f.’s marketing team first considered advertising in last year’s Super Bowl, Marchisotto said the company evaluated the types of ads viewers usually see during the event. The usual Super Bowl suspects include the likes of beer brands, CPGs, and automakers. Beauty brands? Not so much, she said.

This year, e.l.f. isn’t the only beauty brand that is perhaps looking to fill that gap in the market and target — the audience of women who are tuning into NFL games year after year. Come Sunday, NYX Professional Makeup will also be advertising in the game’s national broadcast for the first time, while Dove will return to the Super Bowl broadcast for the first time in nearly two decades.

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