Droga5 creates ‘Public Displays of Application’ for CoverGirl

Anyone who rides the New York City subway is familiar with the MTA’s ‘Courtesy Counts’ campaign, which encourages riders to use good manners during commutes.

While the posters urge riders to avoid doing things like clipping their nails or eating while on the train, they also call out people who “primp” on the subway — something that CoverGirl has taken issue with in its latest campaign.

Called ‘#ProjectPDA,’ which stands for Public Displays of Application, the campaign encourages women to ignore the words of the MTA and instead apply their makeup wherever they please, whether it be in a subway car or on the street.

The campaign, which is Droga5’s first for the brand after winning the account earlier this year, is rooted in research conducted by Ipsos that found that more than half of women who wear makeup stated that they would feel uncomfortable applying it in public.

In hopes of squashing the negative stigmas around putting on makeup in public, CoverGirl recently sent “hundreds of people” onto the subway and to vanity stations set up outdoors in New York City and asked them to freely apply their makeup. The women were then interviewed about how culture influences their makeup choices and what role beauty places in their lives.

The stunt was captured in a video that CoverGirl launched today. The video also includes commentary from beauty influencers Laura Lee, Thania Gonzalez and Raye Boyce, all of which discuss how they’ve been judged in the past for doing their makeup while out and about.

Ukonwa Ojo, CoverGirl's senior vice president, said that the Coty-owned brand's latest stunt was created to "spark a dialogue about the tension that exists between why people tell us they use makeup – whether for self-expression, as a confidence booster, or to simply reflect their mood or mindset – and many of the cultural judgments that still exist, as evidenced by the stigma around applying makeup in public."

She added that the campaign differs from CoverGirl's past efforts since its not focused on any particular product.

"The campaign features real women and social media influencers, and is shot in a woman-on-the-street style. It also uses a cultural conversation as the hook, vs. a new product launch," she said. "You won’t find any 'claims' or 'benefits' here; it’s about expressing a point of view and inviting women to join."

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Minda Smiley

Minda Smiley is a reporter at The Drum covering creativity and advertising. Based in Philadelphia, she primarily covers independent agencies and B2B marketing. She also oversees The Drum’s “Independent Influence,” a weekly series that spotlights the work, perspectives and inspirations behind independent agencies. During her time at The Drum, she has covered industry events including SXSW, ANA Masters of Marketing, 4A’s Transformation and C2 Montréal. She is a graduate of the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

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