Condé Nast is betting big on beauty.
On Wednesday, the publisher will launch its first Beauty Studio, a 2,600-square-foot physical space at 1 World Trade Center for in-house editorial brands and external advertising clients to take advantage of the company’s capabilities and knowledge in the beauty category. Condé Nast’s core capabilities will be on full display in the Beauty Studio, from video and social production to still-life photo shoots.
“The Beauty Studio is about speed-to-market, and capitalizing on beauty trends quickly and as they happen,” said Lucy Kriz, Condé Nast chief industry officer. Across its print, digital and video brands, including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour and Allure, Condé Nast reaches more than 120 million consumers, and according to Kriz, beauty is the company’s largest category.
The content-creation studio will cater toward shooting shorter, more instant content in order to capture millennial and Gen Z eyes versus the company’s branded studio, CNX, which launched in 2015 and typically focuses on longer-form content. The Beauty Studio will be led by Vogue beauty director Celia Ellenberg and Allure executive beauty director Jenny Bailly, who were also tapped in January to spearhead Condé Nast’s beauty network, which consolidated editors across titles to help brands without dedicated beauty departments, like Condé Nast Traveler. Condé Nast would not disclose the investment in the Beauty Studio.
Ellenberg and Bailly will be tasked with reviewing all beauty proposals, including the potential beauty content, talent and celebrity suggestions, and approvals for prospective brands.
“We want to give these clients the elevated editorial sense of what works best for beauty, what could be improved upon and what is relevant to reach the biggest audiences,” said Ellenberg. It’s something Ellenberg stressed that both she and Bailly already do in their current roles, from finding the most topical beauty products and newest launches to choosing the people they feature in their pages and online.
Not only will editorial and advertising clients be able to create branded and white-label content in this new studio — there is actually no Condé Nast branding inside the space itself to make it appear neutral — but Kriz also sees the space as a destination for brands to entertain and create photography and video with beauty influencers and creators.
Aside from creating pure content, certainly, the Beauty Studio is also a play for the budgets of major beauty advertisers as they shift more toward video and social-driven assets versus traditional in-book advertisements. Condé Nast will be increasing its bottom line not only from the content it creates for brands in the studio (both branded and white-label campaigns) but also through the studio’s sponsorships.
For launch, Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena and Dyson Supersonic are presenting sponsors and have created white-label, social-first campaigns with Condé Nast. In exchange for studio sponsorships, products, like Neutrogena makeup remover facial wipes and Dyson hair dryers, will receive prime placement in the studio through the end of the year. Additionally, Neutrogena and Dyson’s sponsorship signage will be featured in the studio and on promotional materials, and the brands’ product will be showcased for Condé Nast beauty editors, sales and marketing teams at the launch event.
Condé Nast expects to be able to create custom backgrounds and sets for clients catered to campaigns in the Beauty Studio, as well as provide a space for editors across brand titles to host meetings and leverage resources, such as using the space to create editorially driven assets.
Creating this Beauty Studio was also key to capturing the “Next Gen” audience, which has been especially important for Condé Nast: It launched a companywide marketing campaign, “Condé Nast Next Gen,” across titles in April 2017, and in February, it announced its Next Generation Network that includes The Hive, AD Clever, Basically, Healthyish, GQ Style and Teen Vogue. Beauty, too, has been a growing area of interest for the company, from its Allure-branded beauty boxes, which were introduced in 2015 to its #TheLookIs, a social media beauty network that launched in 2016.
“We were thinking about how we could modernize our offerings, especially to reach that ‘Next Gen’ consumer,” said Kriz. “What we kept hearing from brands was that, in order to reach their business goals, there was a desire to work with Conde Nast to not only create story-telling content but also to utility content and use our creatives’ expertise.”
Condé Nast will also be incorporating its smart data platform, Spire, into its custom Beauty Studio assets to offer advanced targeting and consumer insights on various campaigns and content. “We have to be able to prove what’s working, especially since this is about more utility content,” said Kriz. Seven full-time staffers will be dedicated to the Beauty Studio, across creative, editorial and program management, focused on areas such as content strategy, development and packaging, and production management.
For launch, Condé Nast will promote a #CNBeautyStudio hashtag on social, with plans to create a dedicated handle for Beauty Studio shoots and events in the coming months. Additionally, all Condé Nast titles, such as Vogue and Allure, will be promoting the launch via their social channels, online and in-book. Condé Nast’s respective brand social editors will also be tasked to promote the launch momentum this week across all social platforms.
“Beauty is endemic to Condé Nast, and in order for us to maintain our authority and that we are bringing to market the best offerings, we have to evolve, and that’s what we are doing here,” said Kriz. ”We’re meeting the demands of the market and getting ahead.”