Judge Beauty Wants this e.l.f. on Your Shelf Street Fight

‘Judge Beauty’ Wants this e.l.f. on Your Shelf

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And the award for best non-sequitur in a Super Bowl ad this year goes to the TV personality known as Judge Judy: “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining,” Judge Beauty said when learning a “defendant” claimed she needed to spend $92 on makeup products.

The 30-second spot, “Judge Beauty,” was from e.l.f. Cosmetics, whose appearance in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11, was the brand’s biggest foray into such a large national TV media buy.

The spot is a spoof on the “Judge Judy” reality show set in a courtroom in which real-life judge Judith Scheindlin settles small-claims cases, in part, by dressing down plaintiffs and defendants with caustic remarks. For its turn in the spotlight, this year’s ad wasted no time or brand equity to hype its top-selling product: Halo Glow Liquid Filter foundation.

After building the brand with local marketing, including a regional spot during last year’s Super Bowl, e.l.f. has  doubled ad spending since 2014.

Megan Caputo, Group Director, Client Strategy at Tinuiti, explained, “We strategically decided to run a national ad rather than opting for a smaller DMA to continue shaping culture and maximize reach to as many eyes, lips. and faces as we can, creating a more substantial impact.”

Tinuiti, which bills itself as the largest independent performance-marketing firm across streaming TV, Google, Meta, and Amazon, worked with e.l.f. to conceive the media strategy for not only the 30-second Judge Judy spot that ran on the Super Bowl, but also that of a series of Judge Judy teaser spots across TV and social media in the weeks leading up to the game.

The teasers featured various cast members from the TV show “Suits,” including Meghan Trainor and Gina Torres; and Ronald Gladden, who is part of the ensemble cast of “Jury Duty,” billed as a “reality hoax” show.

e.l.f. products may be positioned as affordable but the brand doesn’t scrimp when paying for talent to advertise. In last year’s regional Super Bowl TV buy, the spot featured Jennifer Coolidge, instantly recognizable to anyone who’s seen “American Pie” and HBO’s “White Lotus.” That spot featured e.l.f.’s Power Grip Primer product.

That spot’s success with YouTube’s Ad Blitz reached more than 48M viewers who had not seen ads live during the Super Bowl and helped inform the decision to go national this time around. It was used across social media for potential reach: 86% of Snapchatters used the app during the game in 2023; 49M Snapchatters follow the NFL; TikTok’s NFL video content draws upwards of 400M views, with 93% of those taking action with a brand after watching content, according to Tinuiti.

Jonathan Lerner, Tinuiti’s Sr. Director, Client Strategy & Analytics, Streaming+, said last year’s spot tapped “into the top DMAs across the country on linear TV alongside a national digital placement. This year, we wanted to go even bigger, and launched a full national spot across both linear and digital platforms. Strategy included doubling down on core audiences, while expanding our footprint across new audiences.”

The teaser spots launched January 30 and were all about building momentum toward mass reach. They ran across live shows and (NBC, CBS, Bravo) streaming TV (EyeQ *Paramount), Hulu, Peacock, and Netflix) with marquee programs (“SNL,” “Survivor,” “Vanderpump Rules”). They also appeared on TikTok, Snap, Reddit, and programmatic on YouTube and Vox.

The media mix was aligned with the cross-generational appeal that the Super Bowl attracts, meeting each generation where they’re spending their time, Lerner said. The teasers reached Gen X and Boomer audiences with Live TV and Gen Z and Millennials with streaming and social.

Lerner emphasized that e.l.f. brand executives put a premium on seamless, symbiotic working relationships, which enabled the teams “to move at the speed of culture.” Shadow was the creative agency for the teasers and the Super Bowl spot.

“Judge Beauty” ranked 37th out of the 58 commercials that ran in Super Bowl LVIII in USA Today’s Ad Meter.

Kathleen Sampey
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