The Evolution of Anti-Aging Ads: What the TikTok Aging Filter Means for the Industry

Published in
4 min readJul 26, 2023

Sphere’s Ad Evaluation app uses AI to rapidly analyze video data frame by frame to identify symbols, emotions, cultural nuances, and whether brand assets convey intended values and meaning.

If you’ve tried out the viral aged filter on TikTok (and absolutely hated the results), you’re not alone. With over 13 million videos under the filter, reactions range from shock to despair, and many beginning to wonder what they can do to mitigate the effects of aging. Naturally, people reach out to skincare — anti-aging serums, moisturizers, night creams — you name it.

The Business of Immortality

Viral filters may come and go, but the demand for anti-aging solutions has remained constant amidst changing consumer needs. The quest for timelessness transcends generations, with individuals of all ages seeking remedies for youthful, radiant skin.

In response, the beauty and skincare industry has developed countless anti-aging products over the years. Brands have continuously innovated and incorporated scientific advancements to offer personalized solutions for diverse anti-aging concerns.

But have these brands also adapted their positioning of these products to reflect shifting mindsets and cultural changes?

To find out, we used Sphere’s Ad Evaluation app to conduct a frame-by-frame analysis of popular anti-aging commercials over time and determined the brand archetypes and values present.

From Romantic Ideal to Everyday Accessibility

These commercials were released in 2010 by Neutrogena, L’Oreal, and Estee Lauder, and are largely centered around the Lover archetype. These ads feature close-up snapshots of flawless faces, creating a sensory experience that alludes to the satisfaction gained from achieving physical beauty. Overall, the soft and dreamy visuals feel indulgent, romantic, and sensual.

In contrast, the ad released in 2022 by NIVEA featured a shift in focus to the Everyperson archetype by placing women in natural-looking everyday scenarios — talking and laughing with friends and family. Everyone wants to look young for as long as they can, but most cannot relate to an airbrushed model.

By going for a more realistic approach, it conveys the idea that good skin care is attainable for everyone, and places emphasis on the product’s effectiveness rather than the glamour surrounding it.

Our AI also detected that both Olay’s 2020 and Neutrogena’s 2019 commercials had a myriad of archetypes, ranging from the Everyperson to the Hero. Our take? Ads are changing, and taking on contrasting archetypes that portray everyday people taking charge.

Prioritizing People over Products

Older commercials tend to give emphasis on the product itself. At the time, new types of products were being introduced to the public, so commercials exhibited a more groundbreaking and innovative take — getting consumers to focus on how they’ve got exciting new ingredients and formulas by focusing heavily on their products.

Newer ads however, have evolved to become more people-centric. They’ve shifted their focus to create more inspiration and empowerment — while maintaining the outlook of an everyday person. This creates a stronger emotional connection with the target audience, and positions the brand and its products in a more accessible and relatable manner.

Focusing on Inclusivity

Since newer commercials feature people and faces more, it’s interesting to note that they have also moved towards inclusivity, and have made an intentional effort to portray a multitude of ethnicities and ages in their ads.

Clarins’ 2020 ad is one clear example, where they’ve made a concerted effort to include a multi-ethnic satisfaction test to demonstrate how their product workbrokens for all. Traditionally, models are young, and have no visible marks on their skin — Clarins has those boundaries in a single ad. Consumers can identify themselves with the people displayed in the ad, and suddenly, great skin feels attainable.

As consumers gaze upon their “aged” faces, brands will need to ask themselves: what kind of ad is relatable and accessible enough to capture that feeling of being able to take charge of the (visible) future?

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