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The Big Brand Theory: The Body Shop Has Beauty With a Heart


ImageIn the mid-70s, Gordon and Anita Roddick decided to close their hotel and restaurant business. Gordon took off to fill a long-held ambition to ride a horse from Buenos Aires to New York, while Anita opened up The Body Shop, a small boutique in Brighton, on the south coast of England.  A second shop was soon opened, and then a third, until by the time the company was acquired by L'Oréal in 2006, there were over 2,000 stores around the world. 

From its inception, the company had a focus on natural and organic goods. Furthermore, throughout the company's history, Anita Roddick had been a passionate supporter of various causes such as the eradication of poverty and bans on testing products on animals.  Notable examples of The Body Shop's cause-related partnerships included those with Greenpeace and Cruelty Free International.

The legacy of being a cause-oriented organization lives on in the brand's ethos today and is a key component of its social media marketing. In a recent conversation with Jennifer Barckley, Director, Brand Communications & Values at The Body Shop, the word "authentic" was frequently used. Barckley says, "The brand is really rooted in authenticity. Its DNA lends to rich story lines that are real."

While the brand is serious about its work with causes, it also displays an ability to be light-hearted, fun, and a bit irreverent - qualities that also originated with the founder. During the recent Oscars, The Body Shop hosted a Twitter "slumber party" around the hashtag, #GreatInBed, built around a product launch for Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-Oil.

 A Twitter party is not unlike a Twitter chat, but usually held as a single event as opposed to being a regularly scheduled chat.

#GreatInBed was The Body Shop's first formal Twitter party.  The online event included engagement with participants as well as product giveaways. Barckley describes the event as being fun, with conversation and product giveaways being interspersed with virtual pillow fights and makeovers.

ImageThe brand's activism doesn't exist only within its marketing. Barckley says,  "We have a certified program called Community Fair Trade, for instance, which is how we source many of our ingredients from around the world. And, through this program, we cultivate ethical, long-term partnerships with our spuppliers and their communities."

Being an organization with social justice at its core - that is, it was embedded in the company's makeup from its origins by the founder herself - provides the brand with the ability to communicate with a shared passion point. Barckley says, "We've tested a lot of different types of content, and often the more emotive content performs better than the very product or promotional-specific content. Because there is really heart and humanity within. It's authentic in a way that can just be felt and sensed."

Social media is undergoing ongoing enhancement at The Body Shop.  Barckley mentions the thinking around content marketing and social media, "A current focus is to make sure that when we're talking about social, we're not just doing it in isolation, but that we really have an integrated content marketing approach; creating more of a process around it. We're launching content streams over the next few weeks with the Vitamin E Overnight Serum Oil: different chapters, if you will, that make up our Great in Bed storybook." That content is to be launched on Facebook, linked to the website, then shared across to Twitter and Instagram as appropriate, too.



Join The Conversation

  • Digital Age Journalist's picture
    Mar 17 Posted 3 years ago Digital Age Jou...

    Hello Ric,

    We met at Basil Puglisi's Social Media Club meeting on Long Island about a year ago. Good to see you here and to read your post.

    Anita Roddick is my business heroine. Although she died a few years ago at age 66, her words and story live on as a legacy to international business. Her first book, 'Business as Unusual', emphasized that she did not believe in advertising and never did it. I guess things have changed substantially for the company with its very clever marketing campaigns.

    I would like people to know that she never compromised her beliefs. She ran a grassroots business that became international and she sat at the table with other CEOs from some of the other weathiest companies in the world. They talked international business. They hated what she stood for. But they could not ignore her because her business had become as much if not more successful than theirs. Hers was built on integrity and core values. They all considered that approach naive and lacking their rules of business.

    Alison D. Gilbert

  • Mar 10 Posted 3 years ago Brooke Hubbard

    I love the idea behind this #GreatInBed campaign and the idea of the #SlumberParty, but I have to wonder how successful it actually was. Based on the data I could find, it looks like the hashtag has only been used around 90 times, and almost 50% of those times were retweets. The Facebook posts got similarly minimal engagement as well. 

    I wonder what could have caused such low engagement on this campaign. Was it too much to try to take on the Oscars? 

    Thank you for sharing this article. It is a great idea and potentially a great learning point for all of us. 

  • Mar 10 Posted 3 years ago Madhava Verma D...

    Very interesting and thats how an aggressive branding has been done successfully.

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