Maybelline, an American makeup brand founded in 1915 in Chicago, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month. Since its inception, the company has enjoyed steady growth, expanding its product lines and innovating into new categories, from mascara to lip balms to BB creams.
It’s not only a strong business, but also a well-known brand. With its alliteration, parallel structure and a playful tone, “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline,” is one of the most iconic and well-known taglines in advertising, and is still in the market—24 years after its launch.
But in its 100th year, Maybelline has made a discernible shift in its communications strategy, most notably in a recently released commercial, “No Maybes” which takes an empowering and individualistic attitude towards female beauty.
The commercial features women of different ethnicities and fashion sensibilities, and presumably, careers and interests. Most notable in the video’s talent roster is Ruby Rose, a model and actress who is the face of the brand in her home country of Australia.
Rose’s inclusion signals a few departures for Maybelline—she’s heavily tattooed, openly gay, and identifies as gender fluid, or gender neutral. Her presence, along with the campaign’s emphasis on self-confidence and individualism, makes for a powerful new message for the brand.
The commercial’s voiceover urges women to use makeup not to cover up their flaws, but to be unapologetically who they are: “We’ll be beautiful, and it won’t be for them. We’ll make it happen… with no regrets, no apologies, and definitely no maybes.”
The last line seems to a subtle nod to Maybelline’s slogan, and a suggestion that it might be phased from communications in favor of a more empowering, all-inclusive message.
The #NoMaybes campaign, released in mid-May, is timely and topical to recent events like today’s historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, celebrations of transgender actresses and celebrities, and Netflix’s show Orange is the New Black‘s recent Season 3 debut, in which actress Rose plays Stella Carlin, a gender-fluid inmate.
With all of these changes considered, it just may be the perfect time for Maybelline to own this universally celebratory stance on female beauty, and even spark a larger shift in how all mainstream beauty brands connect with their audiences.
—Darcy Newell is a New York-based verbal identity strategist.