Mixing advertising and activism to sell organic products

Eclair Naturals, a body-care line introduced last year, is advertising for the first time.
Eclair Naturals, a body-care line introduced last year, is advertising for the first time.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ÉCLAIR

LOS ANGELES • As more people use organic and natural personal care products, the companies behind these goods are becoming more aggressive about courting them - and slipping in messages that go beyond beauty.

The Honest Company, founded by actress Jessica Alba in 2012, introduced its first brand campaign in February.

Eclair Naturals, a body-care line introduced last year, is advertising for the first time.

And Burt's Bees is increasing its marketing after advertising on television for the first time in 2014.

The new outreach - and the activism that often accompanies it - should not come as a surprise.

According to Spins, a Chicago- based consulting company, sales of natural body-care products - which do not contain artificial colours, preservatives, flavours or sweeteners and are minimally processed - jumped 10.6 per cent to US$1.1 billion (S$1.5 billion) in the United States, for the year that ended March 19.

In addition, according to the Organic Trade Association, organic personal care products - defined as those containing at least 70 per cent organic ingredients, as defined by the US Department of Agriculture - are "still only 1.25 per cent of total US sales of personal care products, so there's lots of room to grow".

After its first foray into TV, when it advertised lip balm flavours, Burt's Bees subsequently began advertising new lines of 100 per cent natural lipsticks and tinted lip oils.

According to Mr Jim Geikie, general manager of Burt's Bees, the company's target market is "healthy living advocates" who look for products that are more natural and less processed.

He noted that they cut "across all ages" and tend to be better educated. The company also introduced a "bring back the bees" campaign last year to raise awareness about the decline of bees and other pollinators.

The Burt's Bees Foundation will also donate funds to plant 5,000 wildflower seeds, with a goal of generating two billion bee-nourishing wildflowers.

The most visually striking of the new campaigns is that of Eclair Naturals, which began selling its hair, skin and personal care products last year.

The centrepiece of the campaign is an almost four-minute video featuring Eclair's founder and chief executive John Matise; Dr Hadley King, a dermatologist; Ms Kayla Jacobs, beauty and style editor of mindbodygreen.com; and models.

All discussed the general lack of transparency surrounding ingredients used in most bath and body-care products.

The end of the video asks consumers what they oppose, stating: "How about you?"

The video noted that although Canada and European countries have banned nearly 2,000 chemicals from personal care products in the past decade, the US has prohibited only 10 and has not passed a major federal law to regulate ingredients in such items since 1938.

The new campaign of The Honest Company - which sells baby, beauty, personal care and household products - is called Honest Moments.

It includes a black-and-white spot in 30- and 60-second versions, featuring women who are filmed giving birth.

The tag line: "For this moment. For every moment. Honest."

Ms Liz Elert, a senior vicepresident for The Honest Company, said the advertising was the company's response to "the moments we share as humans".

The company's mission, she added, "is to provide products that empower people to live their healthiest and happiest life".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2017, with the headline 'Mixing advertising and activism to sell organic products'. Print Edition | Subscribe