Cosmetics brand Smashbox is jumping on the virtual reality trend today, using the format to showcase its back story.
The Estée Lauder brand is using 360-degree video to take viewers on a tour of Smashbox Studios, the fashion photography studio in Los Angeles’ Culver City, where the brand was born.
The famed 25,000-square-foot space has served as the venue for innumerable fashion ad campaign and magazine cover shoots since the studio was founded in 1990. So featuring it in the brand’s digital strategy was a no-brainer, said Ginny Chien, executive director of global digital and consumer marketing at Smashbox.
“A lot of beauty brands are adopting the behind-the-scenes approach, but it’s not as authentic as the place we come from,” she said. “We were literally born out of the studio.”
The 3 minute-long video highlights the studio, its technology and the brand’s products. It starts off with founder and photographer Davis Factor bursting into the entrance of the studio with Lori Taylor Davis, the brand’s global lead makeup artist.
Factor then takes a backseat as Davis leads the rest of the tour. She takes viewers on a quick round of the rooms that make up the studio, from the versatile “Bigbox” studio to the “Lightbox” studio, for shoots requiring ample natural light. The scene then shifts to three behind-the-scenes photo shoots, where Davis finishes applying some final touches for a few models before they strut into action. The video includes some of the brand’s bestselling products, including its Photo Finish foundation primer and its Studio Skin foundation.
“We wanted to show how Smashbox relies on technology, for not only their products but also their marketing,” said Ricardo Diaz, executive digital director at agency Omelet, which created the video. “We’re hoping it builds more awareness around the brand’s products, but also helps it connect with its fans in a new and innovative way.”
The video launches as the brand redesigns its site with a focus on the makeup brand’s history and a virtual makeup tool. The video will appear on YouTube and Facebook and will be cross-promoted on other social platforms, including Twitter and Instagram.
Smashbox is also promoting the video by sending Google Cardboard viewers to its 400-person influencer network as well as sales associates at Sephora and Ulta, which carry Smashbox products.
“A big chunk of our business comes from these multi-specialty retailers,” said Chien. “So education and training as well as them advocating on our behalf is important.”
The virtual tour is the next step in Smashbox’s attempt to elevate its digital marketing, said Chien. Unlike most beauty brands, Smashbox does not do print advertising. It’s been steadily ramping up its digital efforts over the past few years: Its 2013 Webby-winning “Love Me” campaign, for example, invited fans to express what “Love Me” meant to them on Facebook, which were then projected live on a digital billboard over Hollywood Boulevard during the week of the Oscars. Last year, it was Estée Lauder’s second fastest-growing brand, after Tom Ford.
“This sounds like an excellent opportunity for them to introduce the brand to a newer, younger customer,” said Tamara Belopopsky, business development at digital agency King & Partners. “They have a great back story but I’m not sure how much people are aware of it, so this is potentially a great way for them to tell a little bit more of their story and position the brand in a unique way.”