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May 8, 2024
(Updated on
Feb 12, 2024

Ceraves Marketing Strategy—And Michael Cera-ve’s Strange Superbowl Ad Explained.

CeraVe's marketing strategy has evolved significantly, particularly in the wake of its TikTok fame in 2020. Due to increased consumer interest in scientifically backed skincare and word-of-mouth marketing, the L'Oréal-owned brand saw a spike in popularity during the pandemic. CeraVe's positioning as a dermatologist-recommended brand with straightforward product names, unassuming packaging, and reasonable price points has further cemented this rise in popularity.

Photo by sarah b on Unsplash

Despite its roots in dermatologist offices, CeraVe has successfully tapped into social media platforms, particularly TikTok, to engage with consumers in entertaining and engaging ways. The brand has embraced the trend of short-form video content and collaborated with creators known for their offbeat humour and eccentric style. By leveraging the creativity of these creators, CeraVe has been able to reach new audiences and maintain relevance. One notable example is a TikTok video featuring a protagonist receiving a facial treatment, which prominently features CeraVe's cleanser in a humorous and unconventional manner. This approach reflects CeraVe's willingness to embrace unconventional marketing tactics to appeal to younger consumers.

CeraVe didn't use conventional marketing strategies to generate buzz about its first Super Bowl advertisement. So instead of just using standard methods, the brand worked with more than 450 influencers to create an interesting story about a possible link between actor Michael Cera and the skincare company. This approach aimed to leverage the credibility and reach of influencers to spark conversations and fuel speculation.  

The Super Bowl campaign, created by CeraVe in collaboration with Ogilvy, unfolded as an elaborate prank designed to debunk any rumours linking Michael Cera to the brand. This carefully planned campaign included odd public appearances by Cera, planned social media conversations, and influencer participation, all of which were purposefully planned to heighten rumours in the run-up to the Super Bowl.

The idea originated from internet speculation linking Michael Cera's name with CeraVe, despite no actual association between the actor and the brand. Despite Cera's low profile and lack of social media presence, his involvement in stunts like signing CeraVe bottles in public and avoiding questions about the brand on podcasts added to the campaign's mystique. The campaign unfolded over several weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, with TikTok creators playing a significant role in initiating discussions about Cera's potential involvement with CeraVe. Influencers like Haley Kalil, Hannah Kosh, and Audrey Trullinger posted content hinting at Cera's association with the brand, such as footage of him signing CeraVe moisturizer bottles and unboxing packages featuring his face and signature.

CeraVe also intentionally designed the influencer packages to appear unassuming, contributing to the authenticity of the campaign. The campaign heavily relied on influencer participation from various fields, not just skincare or beauty influencers. Creators engaged in speculation, unboxing videos, and commentary, contributing to the buildup of the campaign. As rumours spread, the conspiracy garnered significant press coverage, further amplifying the buzz around the Super Bowl ad. Key influencers, including Caleb Simpson, Bobbi Althoff, Kalil, and Dr. Muneeb Shah, were central to the campaign's success. They featured Cera in sponsored content aligned with their unique styles, adding authenticity to the storytelling process. CeraVe also empowered roughly 60 additional influencers to contribute to the speculation surrounding Cera's alleged connection to the brand, further amplifying the conversation.

As the campaign gained momentum, influencers played on the trope of the "influencer apology video," adding another layer of engagement and humour to the narrative. Even after the reveal that Cera was indeed the star of CeraVe's Super Bowl spot, the brand continued to work with influencers to extend the campaign's reach and maintain momentum during the Super Bowl weekend. Ultimately, the Super Bowl ad revealed the truth behind the rumours, emphasizing that CeraVe is developed with dermatologists and not associated with Michael Cera. The campaign's success lies in its ability to blend education and entertainment, providing closure while engaging and entertaining the audience. The influencer-led approach proved highly effective, generating an impressive 6 billion impressions by Wednesday before the Super Bowl without relying on paid media. This success underscored the power of leveraging influencers to drive brand awareness and engagement in a non-traditional marketing landscape.

Source Wikimedia, by AlbertHerring

The goal of the campaign was to increase awareness of the brand and solidify its position as a staple skincare brand. Additionally, CeraVe's marketing strategy involves a mix of educational content, advocacy, and relationship-building with dermatologists. While the brand continues to prioritize dermatologist recommendations and scientific research, it also recognizes the importance of engaging with consumers in playful and entertaining ways.

Now, Michael Cera isn't exactly the first person you'd think of when it comes to skincare. But that's exactly what makes this campaign so interesting. It was totally unexpected. It is not your typical glamorous beauty advertisement; rather, it is humorous, bizarre, and has people talking. Plus, it shows that skincare is for everyone, even if you're not the picture-perfect celebrity type. So, there you have it—CeraVe, Michael Cera, and a whole lot of laughs. It's a refreshingly different take on skincare marketing, and it's definitely getting people's attention.

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