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Behind the brand: LUX celebrates its centenary in style


Since its US launch in 1923, LUX soap has been advertised by Marilyn Monroe, launched in over 100 countries and become the world’s No.1 fragrance skincare cleansing brand. Here’s how this €1 billion+ beauty icon has stayed on top.

Lux soaps

How it started

Early in 1923, Lever Brothers – the company that went on to become Unilever – set out to create a richly fragranced but affordable toilet soap. LUX was the result.

The first iteration of the soap bar sold for 10 cents in the US and was advertised as being suitable for the face, hands and bath. Advertising proudly stated that it was ‘made like the costliest French soaps’, offering a luxurious lather, accessible indulgence and exquisite scents.

Five years later, LUX’s first link to Hollywood glamour was forged when the brand’s advertising agency sent cases of LUX soap to 425 actresses. 414 of them loved it enough to share their endorsements, winning the brand the claim that nine out of ten Hollywood stars used LUX.

Over the following decades, some of the most celebrated women in showbusiness were starring in LUX commercials. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn were faces of the brand in the 1950s, with Sarah Jessica Parker, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Shu Qi and Alia Bhatt featured in more recent campaigns, among many other well-known women.

A black and white advert featuring Marilyn Monroe advertising LUX soap. The ad was used in the Netherlands in 1953.

How it’s going

LUX is now a €1.2 billion brand – and growing. It’s sold in over 100 countries across the globe and is the No.1 or No.2 skin cleansing brand in almost all of Unilever’s emerging markets.

According to the 2022 Brand Footprint reports from Kantar, it’s the No.1 fragrance skincare cleansing brand in the world and the No.2 most-chosen beauty brand.

In China, where the brand marks 99 years in 2023, LUX is the No.1 fragranced bodywash brand, with turnover increasing steadily and penetration at an all-time high. It’s chosen by more than 200 million consumers nationwide and found in one in six homes.

Staying true to its roots, LUX is still intrinsically linked with glamour and feminine power, and its range of fragrances are formulated in collaboration with the world’s leading perfumers.

A collection of new LUX Celestial Escape products including shower gel, body scrub, shower oil and hand & body milk

The purpose that powers it

LUX believes every woman has the right to express her beauty and femininity unapologetically and without fear. That’s why the brand is taking a stand against sexism, seeking to empower women to find strength through beauty and overcome sexist judgements.

Because the harsh reality is that women constantly face judgements – from family, colleagues and complete strangers – and many of these criticisms relate to the way they look.

LUX understands that beauty isn’t superficial or frivolous. When inner strength is nurtured through self-care and solidarity, beauty can be a source of confidence, and that unstoppable power is exactly what the brand wants to help women find.

A screen shot from the LUX Allies campaign, inviting people to learn how to be an ally against sexism in the workplace.

Brand new ideas

  1. Marking the magic number 99

    LUX launched in China 99 years ago and the brand is marking the milestone with a range of memorable events.

    The number 99 is considered auspicious in China and fittingly for a brand that has thrived across generations, it represents longevity.

    As part of a three-month campaign starting in April 2023, LUX is celebrating its heritage with unmissable stands and activations in more than 10,000 stores nationwide.

    A star-studded line-up of celebrities and influencers will also join the festivities, and LUX is hosting an exhibition to share some of the secrets behind its fragrances and formulas.

    A LUX campaign celebrating 99 years of everlasting fragrances and unstoppable beauty in China
  2. Calling on sports coverage to ‘Change The Angle’

    Women in sports are ten times more likely to be objectified than men, with media coverage all too often focusing on their anatomy rather than their achievements. Invasive angles and excessive close-ups can devalue the empowerment that sport brings to those taking part.

    As a brand proud to stand against sexism, LUX’s Change The Angle campaign launched in April 2023, calling on broadcasters to frame sports reporting differently and call time on excessive close-ups.

    LUX teamed up with Volleyball SA (South Africa), sports broadcaster SABC and NGO Sonke Gender Justice. For a major game in South Africa’s capital city, Durban, players wore QR codes on their bodies in the areas that sports broadcasters tend to focus on.

    When viewers scanned the codes, they were directed to a film made by LUX where leading sportswomen voiced their views about sexist coverage.

  3. Reinventing a favourite fragrance

    LUX has a host of exquisite fragrances in its portfolio, but in China its Magical Orchid scent is the most successful by far.

    To build on its popularity, LUX teams took inspiration from fine fragrances and designer brands, which often extend their most-loved perfumes into ‘cousin’ variants – similar to the original but with a twist.

    The first such spin-off to launch is Neon Orchid, now part of the LUX bodywash range with a 24-hour long-lasting fragrance formula. A bold and youthful twist on the classic fragrance, it combines LUX’s signature black orchid scent with hints of spicy rum. It reached 11,000 stores in March 2023, and sales are already significantly outstripping expectations.

    A LUX ad for its Neon Orchid range, inspired by its best selling Magical Orchid fragrance collection.

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