Smashbox Enlists Pamela Anderson in Comeback Bid

Pamela Anderson is having a bit of a comeback of late. The Smashbox Cosmetics team hopes she can do the same for their struggling brand.

On Thursday, Anderson was revealed as the face of the brand’s new “OG” campaign promoting its Photo Finish Primer hero product. While she has been photographed for magazine cover and editorial shoots by the brand’s founder Davis Factor in the past, the campaign marks her first time appearing in a Smashbox ad.

“Now is a good time for us to have a face,” said Factor. “I thought she was perfect for the OG campaign because I created the primer back in the late 1990s, and she’s such an iconic figure.”

Following a fictionalised Hulu show, a Netflix documentary and a general obsession with Y2K style, Anderson has returned to the cultural zeitgeist with celebrities and influencers like Kim Kardashian paying homage to her style. Smashbox is the latest brand to ride the Pam resurgence wave after Proenza Schouler earned buzz last month with its campaign featuring her modelling its looks makeup-free. In late January, she acquired skincare brand Sonsie.

Smashbox, meanwhile, has seen a different trajectory in recent years.

“The pandemic just slammed us — literally obliterated us. We’re lucky to still be in business because of that,” said Factor. Estée Lauder Companies reported in its fiscal 2024 second-quarter earnings report on Feb. 5 that it had revised its internal forecasts for Smashbox due to lower-than-expected results. In December 2023, the brand shut down its Canada DTC site after undergoing layoffs in June 2023 and exiting the UK and Ireland in 2022.

“We really spread thin all over the globe. When you move away from a distributor model, and more into an affiliate model in all the Lauder offices, and they have somebody that’s attached to your brand, it’s a little bit more difficult,” said Factor. Outside the U.S. market, he said that India and Italy are still major areas of focus.

With Anderson, Factor is hoping to tap into nostalgia for the brand’s 1990s and 2000s heyday, when Smashbox rose to prominence as he used its primer and other products on countless celebrity photo subjects at Smashbox Studios. His initial foray into makeup had been inspired by the legacy of his great-grandfather Max Factor, who is credited with coining the term “makeup.”

Smashbox is one of numerous ELC portfolio brands that have struggled to regain the relevance that they held in the 2000s. The company shut down Becca Cosmetics in 2021, leaving production of two of its hero products to Smashbox. As ELC aims to steer its brands to a turnaround, nostalgia has provided classic brands with potential for a sales boost following the popularity of Clinique’s Black Honey lipstick on TikTok.

“We have a unique position. We’re the only photo studio in the world that has a cosmetics brand that was run by the people who invented commercialised makeup,” said Factor.

Learn more:

Pamela Anderson Purchases Stake in Sonsie Skin

The actress and activist has joined the premium skincare company as a co-founder and co-owner.

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