Morning Lift or Nighttime Gift: Indonesian Beauty Advertising


Earlier this year, TapestryWorks collaborated with ABN Impact in Jakarta, to uncover the emotional journey of women’s beauty routines (read more here). As part of this work and client event, we also looked at women’s reactions to examples of advertising from beauty brands including Garnier, Wardah, L’Oreal and Sari Ayu, covering a range of International and local brands.

As with the diary work, we used StoryWorks Visual Think cards to capture the emotions associated with each advert and also the talent appearing in each execution using ABN Impact’s ‘Jakarta Beauty’ online community members.

Starting with Garnier’s Start Now (with Chelsea Islan), the advert was most strongly associated with feeling Unique, Individual, Charismatic and Expert (see below), and overall much more about independence than interdependence. The advert was strongly associated with the “spirit of youth” in the words of one of lady. Another said, “Chelsea has a lot of spirit. She is really confident and that’s a message for us to keep running in our lives”. Others said, “I like this because she looks smart” and, “Chelsea Islan is really beautiful, active, young, feminine but not really familiar”.

The next advert to be tested was Wardah Lip Cream with Sandra Dewi and Rahline Syah. This advert was associated with feelings of Fun, Enjoyment and Care, but was also seen as slightly Selfish (that is, pampering yourself rather than looking after others). All of these are feelings that reflect interdependence rather than independence, so creating a very different kind of connection with the audience. One lady said, “The models are giving an impression to be cheerful, spirited and colourful. They have different culture and fashion but complement each other”.

Others focused on the fun, energy and togetherness in the advert saying, “They look beautiful, happy, energetic and smart” and, “The ad is really mature, elegant, beauty but still fun with best friend”. In previous work on Asian beauty, we have found that Fun is an important motivation for women, but often lacking in beauty branding and advertising, especially from international brands.

However, there is one note of caution for Wardah, in that not everyone felt that the talent was right for the brand itself, “The models don’t really don’t really fit because Wardah is a polite and gentle product, while they are both more active”. The advert and talent are certainly energetic and lively, and most liked the talent, two ladies saying, “They fit one another and together they show the product is universal” and “They have a different fashion and culture and complement each other”.

The third advert was a very short one from L’Oreal (part of a series of ads) called La Vie En Rose and featuring Maudy Ayunda. It was associated with feelings of Charisma and Creativity but was also seen as Serious (Scientific) and Boring. Many international brands do talk about beauty in a very serious way, and this often fails to impress women in South East Asia particularly.

On one hand, the advert was seen as classy, and described as “high class and International … Maudy brings elegance, luxury, high class and quality to L’Oreal” and “Maudy is beautiful, sexy and elegant, firing with the brand”. On the other hand, many didn’t like the seriousness (and brevity) saying “I don’t like the model because she is not smiling much” and “I feel this ad is really short. Rigid and serious, just showing a career woman”.

Most saw the advert as in line with ether perceptions of the L’Oreal brand, although some saw L’Oreal as a brand for older women as well as being exclusive and premium. In the words of one, “Maybe those lipsticks are great for older women, but not really for teenagers. Maudy Ayunda is too young to play the model”.

The final ad to be tested was for Sari Ayu with Chelsea Olivia and set around a hiking trip. Like the Wardah ad, the associations were more focused on interdependence rather than independence, marking out a difference between the two local brands from the two international brands whose ads were tested. Hiking was seen as Funny, Unpretentious, Caring and Individual, reflecting the outdoor and group themes. Ladies wrote that, “Gives the message that we should live life with spirit and freedom” and “A feeling that seems to merge with nature”. Chelsea Olivia was a popular talent, described as “really suitable because she still looks energetic and can expand the market because Sari Ayu is for older women” and “always looks beautiful and cheerful”.

Overall, how do the adverts reflect our findings on beauty rituals and the beauty goals of Indonesian women? Garnier’s Start Now matches many of the feelings associated with morning beauty routines, while Wardah’s Lip Cream and Sari Ayu’s Hiking are associated with some of the feelings and goals of women in their day time and evening beauty rituals. L’Oreal’s La Vie En Rose has associations that reflect the goals of beauty rituals for special and more formal occasions. While these are very important to women in their lives, they are not typical of the values of everyday beauty that drive the majority of product usage occasions in Indonesia.

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