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Why Glossier tapped WNBA stars to give its new body heroes campaign the glow up

The new ‘Body Hero’ campaign aims to tap into the cultural relevance and personal stories of these pro athletes.

Why Glossier tapped WNBA stars to give its new body heroes campaign the glow up
[Photo: Glossier]

What constitutes a nice body? A good body? A beautiful body?

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These were just a few of the questions that Glossier asked itself back in 2017, when it launched the original campaign for its Body Hero product line. The brand used a variety of people from a variety of professions as nude models, with an aim to show the beauty of all body types, and forcing us to reconcile with our own definitions.

Now the company is launching two new products for the Body Hero line—an exfoliating bar and dry-touch oil mist—and using the opportunity to update its approach to Body Hero to reflect better where the culture has moved three years later.

“Cultural shifts and mindsets have changed significantly even since 2017, so for us we couldn’t just—forgive the pun—rinse and repeat the same type of advertising,” says Glossier senior VP of marketing Ali Weiss. “We had to think about it in this new context, and so what we’ve done is create a campaign that highlights the personal narratives of 16 unique body heroes, eight of which are through now being the beauty partner with the WNBA.” Glossier will be using content across social and its editorial arm, Into The Gloss, to delve deeper into the personal stories of its heroes, half of whom are from the WNBA.

What makes this a different campaign for Glossier is that partnership with the WNBA—and how the brand is utilizing it. Last year, the league made a strategic effort to rebrand around its players and, as WNBA chief operating officer Christy Hedgpeth told ESPN, “how they have been at the forefront of a lot of conversations around women and culture. And they’ve been leading the conversation in a lot of ways. . . . Our league for 22 years so far has stood for diversity, inclusion, and equality, and [has] been one of the very few women’s professional leagues to make it. We really think that we have an opportunity and the potential to be much more culturally relevant than we are.”

That only became more clear this year, as when the league’s signature orange hoodie became a hot streetwear commodity, or when players dedicated this season to Breonna Taylor. Players have also been speaking out regularly on police reform, voter registration, and other social justice issues. Atlanta Dream players and other teams even wore T-shirts endorsing the Democratic opponent of the Dream’s co-owner, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, who has criticized and questioned the Black Lives Matter movement.

For Glossier, this was a defining reason to collaborate on the new campaign. “In the cultural dialogue right now, it’s really inspired by these WNBA players who have not only in this moment but for many years been strong voices in that dialogue, not just what they represent with their bodies, but mentally and spiritually what they represent in being very strong, opinionated, and standing up for their values,” says Weiss. “So we reached out in the hopes they’d want to work with us.”

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The brand will also be posting its “skin portraits” (zoomed-in shots of almost unidentifiable body parts of all shapes, sizes, and shades) across Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, and in full-page ads in The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. It’s also buying ad time on Hulu, YouTube, and experimenting with paid TikTok ads for the first time.

Players such as Sue Bird, Seimone Augustus, Lexie Brown, Kalani Brown, and more also present an aspirational athletic ideal in a different way. In one spot, we hear them say things like, “Athletes, we aren’t necessarily the standard of beauty,” and “My whole life I’ve been taller than everyone, bigger than everyone,” illustrating a welcome vulnerability and openness about their own insecurities.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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