By The Drum, Editorial

June 6, 2024 | 3 min read

Winning Retail Gold in The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas is Zulu Alpha Kilo and Sephora Canada’s campaign for the Colour iQ code. Here is the award-winning case study.

Objectives and Challenges

Sephora is a leading retailer with a purpose to expand the way the world sees beauty through its brand platform, "We Belong to Something Beautiful." In 2023, Sephora wanted to bring new people in through their proprietary shade-matching tool, Colour iQ.

Colour iQ is an advanced technology for matching makeup to skin tone. Current shade matching only accounts for depth and undertone of skin colour, excluding those with darker skin. Colour iQ uses a specialized camera to capture skin shade, using depth, undertone, and saturation. With AI, it recommends the best shade for a wider range of skin colours. Given Canada’s diversity, Colour iQ is powerful and nuanced enough to capture every Canadian’s beauty.

Our objectives were to increase awareness, improve perceptions of inclusivity, and get people into stores.

Insight and Strategy

Even within Canada’s diverse population, many feel unseen by the beauty industry, including 63% of women of colour – and most struggle to find makeup that complements their skin tone, especially for BIPOC individuals, 80% of whom struggle.

We realized we could position Colour iQ as a tool for belonging and inclusivity.

Building on the belief that beauty thrives in diversity, the campaign was built around the insight that the uniqueness of your skin tone is a defining part of your beauty.

We set out to show Canadians that every shade is beautiful and the diversity of Canada is something to celebrate.


In our pursuit of deeper engagement and attention-grabbing strategies, we harnessed multiple platforms and media channels, employing novel approaches to captivate our audience:

  • We visualized existing data from 140,000+ unique Colour iQ scans, in a demonstration of belonging.
  • The marquee element was an immersive digital installation akin to a work of art. Located in downtown Toronto, a week-long event showcased Colour iQ and pushed people to the Sephora store across the street.
  • Our interactive experience turned 140,000+ Canadian colour matches into points of light across four enormous screens where visitors brought the data to life with motion and sound. Afterwards, visitors could discover their own unique shade with a Sephora Beauty Advisor.
  • The installation launched with a press event that included a panel on diversity, and a partnership with entertainment show, eTalk.
  • TV and OLV featured a world of illuminated lights, representing all the shades of beauty found in Canada. Social included TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Digital out-of-home boards extended the motif with city-specific executions encouraging people to discover their match in-store.

Through this multi-faceted and innovative approach, Sephora Illumination aimed not only to capture attention but also to immerse consumers in a celebration of individual beauty and diversity, resonating deeply across a wide range of platforms and media channels.

Ready to get your work recognized on a global stage? Enter The Drum Awards today. Need more inspiration, read our Award Winning Case Studies.

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