In a word, yes. Attitudes to cosmetic surgery are changing rapidly, thanks to social media and the plethora of Kardashian-esque influencers out there.
I’m aware that marketers can have something of a reputation for being cold blooded and/or heartless; chasing, promoting and creating trends that are not neccessarily in the best interests of our target audiences. But we need to put food on the table, right? How much can we pick and choose when it comes to our work?
The truth is that you CAN pick and choose which clients you take on, and which campaigns you’re involved with, but you may be limiting your income stream. So, can you afford to be moralistic? Is there a way to market these brands without a side of existential guilt with each campaign?
Personally, I’d rather be a bit clever with marketing a potentially taboo service (such as cosmetic surgery) and avoid any form of “shame to buy” tactics. In our recent campaigns for one of our Cosmetic Surgeon clients, I’ve taken a very body positive tone. This is for two reasons, one more mercenary than the other.
The body positivity movement is trending, big time. If you haven’t noticed this, take a look at the extraordinary Jameela Jamil and the @iweigh project. Look at Megan Jayne Crabbe, a seriously powerful influencer in the body positivity movement. The times and attitudes towards how women look and present themselves, and how they should be judged (the answer is not at all) are changing.
The red circle of shame is still one way to sell cosmetics and aesthetic procedures, but I can tell you it is not the right way.
If you can incorporate the main message of the body positivity movement into your marketing strategy, then you’re ahead of the game and on the right side of history. For some inspiration as to how this can be achieved, take a good look at Glossier:
Glossier are taking a new approach to makeup: enhance, not conceal.
They are absolutely getting s*** RIGHT. All of their campaigns feature a diverse spectrum of skin tones and races, with products tailored to all women, not just white women. They are striking the perfect tone for today’s market.
I can’t imagine that their targeting needs to be more specific than women living in their distribution areas, and being over 13 or so years old. Because their product is for EVERYONE, and their marketing is all inclusive.
This is a fantastic example of hitching your brand to the rising star of the body positivity movement. It is both clever and ethical marketing — no potential customer left behind.
Because I personally am uncomfortable with the “shame to sell” tactic. I know that I will not buy from a company who’s advertising and marketing makes me feel bad about myself. I may see a product, like it, hate the marketing, look for a similar product elsewhere, and buy from a competitor.
That is the cycle I go through when I see marketing that aims to guilt or shame, and I’ve been doing this for many years. For example, I was given a free sample from Benefit cosmetics, along with a handy leaflet on how to use the product. I was happy (yay for free samples!) until I read the leaflet, which included before & after images for a concealer.
The caption for the “after” was: Perfect!
The caption for the “before” was: Yuck!
That’s right: Benefit’s marketing message was that if you don’t wear their concealer, you are actually disgusting.
This was long before I even thought of working in marketing, but it has absolutley stuck with me. I remember that it made me both angry and upset, and ruined my free sample high. I have never bought Benefit cosmetics because of this. Because of this experience, I only have negative feelings towards this brand: they alienated me with some judgemental marketing, and lost me as a potential client. Not only did they lose my potential custom and access to my money, they lost the cost of that free sample (probably a tiny cost, but still).
So, whenever I start a new campaign for a beauty/aesthetics/cosmetics buisness, I remember how Benefit’s campaign made me feel, and I go in the opposite direction.
I know that we’re not supposed to create campaigns that market to ourselves, but I actually am the target audience for these particular campaigns: I am a woman in my thirties. I am the prime rib of this target audience. So I will absolutely take my own feelings into account.
It definitely helps that the surgeons we market for are highly ethical and feel no need to dig deep into the pool of shame and desperation to find patients.
I like that I get to create uplifting (pun unintended, but welcome) campaigns that are designed specifically to give other women options.
Happy as you are? Please, enjoy this inspo post with a positive message. Hopefully, it will brighten your day.
Considering cosmetic surgery? Please, learn more about the procedures with this helpful animation.
Trying to choose a doctor? Have a look at these independently verified reviews, to help you see what other patients think.
I believe that the above give value to potential customers, without going for a hard sell. I do something slightly controversial with my inspo posts — I don’t include a call to action. I say this is controversial, because it is a potentially wasted touch point with a customer: what are they supposed to do with this post when there’s no link, nothing telling them to reshare/like/comment?
The answer is that I don’t want them to do anything with these posts except look at them, and hopefully enjoy them. This is how I put personality behind this brand. The surgeons who are part of the Beauty Gurus are caring people, and the way that I have chosen to show this is with daily happiness messages that require nothing from the viewer. I have plenty of other posts that involve CTAs, and this brand does not need me to add a “book your consultation here” to every single thing that I post.
And you know what? It works. The Beauty Gurus get fantastic engagement on these inspo posts. People message the brand to say thank you for the positive messages. Not everyone who engages with this brand on social media wants cosmetic surgery, but they’re definitely intrigued by a cosmetic surgery brand that isn’t telling them that if they don’t have surgery they’ll never find love/self validation/risk dying alone.
It’s a refreshing approach, both for myself and the rest of the target audience. It’s also the perfect “how to win brownie points” with your audience.
Body positivity and shameless marketing: it’s a bandwagon worth jumping on early. G’on, try something different.