Thursday, 26 January 2012

Editorial’s loss is the retail industry’s gain

I have watched with great interest over the last few years as magazine editors have upped sticks and left the struggling publishing world to take up creative positions at fashion retailers (Vogue’s fashion director Kate Phelan is now creative director at Topshop, ex-Grazia editor-in-chief Fiona McIntosh is consultant creative director at online retailer and Jeremy Langmead, previously editor of Esquire, is editor-in-chief at fashion retailer Mr Porter), and now this trend looks set to influence the beauty industry, too.

This month, fragrance and beauty brand Jo Malone has announced that Charlotte Stockdale, stylist and fashion director at ID Magazine, is taking up a new position as Style Editor at the brand. With her role described as ‘developing the brand’s image, contributing to campaigns and in-store experience and managing collaborations with young talent’, I think this is a fresh, exciting move for the beauty industry.

In an interview with Really Ree, Charlotte explained: "As a stylist I can see where we can be more textured and colourful. I see potential for new multi-sensorial shopping experiences that integrate smell, taste and sight and an opportunity for more interaction with customers."

As magazines have struggled over the last few years thanks to a continuing decline in advertising revenue (owing to both the recession and the boom in cost-effective online opportunities for brands), I had wondered what would become of the many talented journalists and stylists whose jobs were being axed and not replaced. So perhaps it is a natural conclusion for beauty companies to harness this creative talent to make their brand and store experience stand apart from their competitors and bring something fresh, stimulating and innovative to the table.

What do you think of this trend?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Bare Escentuals Force of Beauty campaign... so near and yet so far

Last night I saw a post on my Facebook feed pop up saying something like “Bare Escentuals is shaking up the beauty industry with its new ad campaign, which set out to find the world's most 'beautiful' women, without seeing any of their faces beforehand; instead choosing ‘beauty’ by real women’s inspiring stories”.

I thought WOW. What a freakin’ great idea. Why the hell didn’t I think of that??!! I love it when beauty brands make truly innovative and brave moves in advertising and marketing, and sadly it doesn’t happen enough.

So I rushed to write a blog post about it and started to research it further. But upon watching the Bare Escentuals Force of Beauty campaign casting video, my heart sank almost instantly. After a promising start to the video, with the statement ‘finding the beauty in a sea of pretty’ (‘yes!’ I was thinking. ‘YES!!’), the video states ‘How We Did It’... and then a woman casually explains; “we started the selection process by sending out a survey to models and actresses...”


WHAT a let down, and what a missed opportunity for Bare Escentuals. Yes, it’s a brave move for a brand to blind-select the faces of their brand based upon personality and inspirational stories and it is definitely a step in the right direction for advertising in the beauty industry. But is there really any risk involved for the brand when the selection process only involves models and actresses?

Yes, Bare Escentuals won’t know what the people representing their brand look like until they have been cast, but they do already know that those people are going to be conventionally pretty; after all, these people are already making a career out of their looks.

Leslie Blodgett, executive chairman for Bare Escentuals, told The New York Times: “Do you know what a huge risk that is? What if all five of them were blonde, blue-eyed and 30?” What, you mean like the bulk of models already representing the beauty industry? Hmm, not such a huge risk, Leslie.

I do applaud the idea, I really do. I think it is a great way to encourage better role models in a celebrity-obsessed society where people are famous for sleeping with their premier league footballer brother-in-law, or for getting kicked off the X Factor for taking drugs (ironically, both of these people I refer to ended up on Celebrity Big Brother this year).

But I wish Bare Escentuals had been truly courageous and opened up the selection process to real women everywhere. Now that would have been brave, bold and inspirational; all the elements that they want their brand to portray.

What do you think?