One of my favorite things about the subway are the ads. Unlike internet banner ads, the ads on the NYC subway are usually pretty smart.

Casper continues to dominate subways with clever (and sometimes cheeky) cartoons about their perfect mattress.

Oscar insurance uses the same flat design and bright color style that every other startup seems to be using, but Oscar does it so well that the style has become synonymous with their marketing.

It doesn’t hurt that Oscar’s copywriters tend to be pretty brilliant.


P&G’s ode to the tough habits of New Yorkers is one of my favorite subway campaigns.


But, I am disappointed by the most recent campaign to take over the NYC subway – that of makeup brand Glossier.

I hadn’t heard of Glossier before the campaign, so they got me there. And I do really like their brand message. Glossier emphasizes makeup that works with your skin, not just lies on top of it. According to them, they’ve formulated their makeup to care for your skin.


The problem is the style of the ads. And the style of the product packaging. And the font. And the colors. It all just looks so tacky.

According to a review on Racked, the product is fantastic. But I can’t get over how cheap it looks. The packaging reminds me of the first makeup I snuck past my parents as a 5th grader. I got a no-name brand concealer to cover up my under-eye circles – and the stuff was thick and pasty and refused to blend, leaving my face looking streaky and crusty.

Glossier’s white plastic oozes that same low quality to me. Not exactly the stuff I would like to put on my face. If I saw this brand on shelf at Sephora I would walk right past it.

Maybe it’s intentional. Glossier’s packaging certainly stands out from the metallic caps, matte glass, and thin/scripted fonts so typical of luxury cosmetics. I’m all for differentiation. But it still looks cheap to me.

Typical luxury cosmetics packaging:


Benefit Cosmetics manages to pull off a fun, category-challenging look without appearing cheap or low quality:


Clinique’s ads actually follow a very similar style to Glossier’s (or shall I saw Glossier follows Clinique..) with simple photos of the product and clear copy. But Clinique’s products come off as high-quality and skin-benefitting.


I’m interested to see where Glossier goes. The company has an allstar team (the founder is a famous makeup blogger who has attracted coworkers from MAC Cosmetics and Google). Glossier also recently attracted $8.4 million in venture funding led by Thrive Capital, which happens to be headed by the founder of Oscar insurance.

With that kind of support, maybe Glossier can redefine the look of high quality makeup. But to me, there is a serious disconnect between the brand message and the visuals.