TV & Streaming

Skims’s first national TV campaign highlights brand’s expansion

The brand, now valued at $4 billion, chose Oscars night to debut its first-ever TV ad.
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Screenshot via @Skims/YouTube

· 4 min read

In 2019, when Kim Kardashian announced her new shapewear brand, it was called “Kimono,” a reference to both her name and to the traditional Japanese robe. Let’s just say, that didn’t go over super well.

Nearly five years and one rebrand later, Skims is a $4 billion business. The company has run campaigns with performers like Lana Del Rey and Usher and actors from the TV show The White Lotus, become the official underwear partner of the WNBA and NBA, and has plans to open brick-and-mortar retail locations later this year.

To support that growth, Skims chose Oscars night earlier this month to debut its first-ever TV ad, which featured Kardashian appearing as two-dozen different characters. The aim, according to the agency that created the spot, is to further expand Skims’s reach and appeal, and it comes as the brand continues its trajectory as one of the more successful celebrity-led brands in recent memory.

Fit check ✅

Skims’s first TV spot, “Skims Lab,” a 60-second ad that features Kardashian and her clones testing Skims clothes in a laboratory, was an effort to reach a wider audience for the brand, which has historically enjoyed a strong Gen Z following, said Azsa West, chief creative officer at Wieden+Kennedy, which created the ad.

Why Oscar night? According to West, the brand was looking for a “big media moment” to debut the ad (it had also considered the Super Bowl, she told us).

In keeping with the Oscars theme, the spot was shot on film and directed by Frank Lebon, whose work, West said, has an “analog feel.”

The campaign will continue to air on national broadcast, and it will also run online; with a digital out-of-home component as well, media duties for which are being handled by Horizon.

Image is everything

Skims is just one of several fashion and beauty brands anchored by a celebrity that have cropped up in recent years. Thomai Serdari, a clinical associate professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, said that trend reflects a response to limited opportunities for other kinds of growth. Some celebrity brands, like Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty and Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty, have found success; others, including influencer Addison Rae’s Item Beauty and Beyoncé’s Ivy Park clothing line, have struggled to stand out among a saturated competitive set. Still, others keep coming: Model Hailey Bieber debuted a skincare and cosmetics brand, Rhode Skin, in 2022, while model Bella Hadid is set to release a beauty line of her own, Orebella, later this year.

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As for Skims, the brand was projected to hit $750 million in sales in 2023, according to the New York Times and, “is discussing strategic options, including an IPO,” Bloomberg reported in November.

“They really identified a category, this shapewear category, that was fast-growing, had a lot of opportunity, and importantly, was a very natural extension of Kim Kardashian’s personal brand,” Claire Hamilton, a global consulting partner at Ogilvy Consulting, said.

Part of what has made the brand successful, Hamilton told us, is that Kardashian is a brand in her own right. That Kardashian “knows how to make herself look perfect…adds an inherent level of authority and credibility and trust​​” for consumers, Hamilton said.

When Skims entered the marketplace, it came in “addressing a different body type and enhancing it in a way that also appeared to be more inclusive,” Serdari said. “We have moved away from that very unreal, delusional, Western European, limited type of beauty that Victoria’s Secret had been selling for decades,” she said. “But there is still a lot of work to be done in how brands address the general public, and whether everyone feels included in the presentation.”

Skims also entered a market where fashion has become increasingly more casual, Hamilton said, which has allowed athleisure brands to gain market share.

“People increasingly wear crop tops and bras under blazers,” Hamilton said. “There was a lot of versatility to [Skims products], and all of that created this brand that has just a lot of cultural currency.”

To keep trying to build on that growth, Skims is going after new consumers. Its aforementioned partnership with the NBA came around the same time as the company’s first-ever menswear line, and the brand positioning itself in front of more sports fans through NIL deals with a number of college athletes.

“[Kardashian] can just keep expanding product categories and so on, more like [a brand like] Nike,” Hamilton said.

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