Big marketers have been collaborating with influencers to develop products for years. Now one is working with a digital media player.
Revlon, in an unusual step, is collaborating with woman-focused Refinery29 to develop and launch a new line of lipstick, Make Your Mark, rolling out Wednesday.
The co-development deal appears unprecedented, says Don Pettit, principal of consultancy Bingo Brand Solutions and former CEO of Mally Beauty.
Refinery29's voice "is very much aligned with Revlon," Debra Perelman, CEO of Revlon, tells Ad Age. "They're optimistic. They're inclusive. They're speaking to the younger generation in a culturally relevant voice."
The Make Your Mark three-item collection will be sold through Walgreens.com and Refinery29's 29Rooms event in New York that opens Thursday and runs for 10 days. Last year, 29Rooms, billed as an "interactive playground," drew more than 100,000 paying visitors, says Philippe von Borries Refinery29 co-founder and co-CEO.
Revlon has some experience turning to beauty media people for product development help. Last year, Revlon hired Linda Wells, former Allure editor, as chief creative officer. She developed the company's new Flesh prestige beauty brand, which launched in Ulta earlier this year.
"It's a bit different than Flesh, where we were creating product lines in house," Perelman says. "Here we were leveraging some of our existing products and having Refinery29 curate them based on design, color, as well as message that would resonate with their audience and the storytelling that they really have an expertise in."
That included choosing shades to complement a range of skin tones and styling the tip of the lipstick, Perelman and von Bories say.
In addition to support from Refinery29, Revlon, via internal agency The Red House, has a full marketing plan behind the launch. Part of that effort will be taking over Refinery29's Snapchat Discover platform.
The product collaboration expands a five-year-old relationship that has included a content partnership and road trip across with U.S. with Revlon brand ambassador and plus-size model Ashley Graham, von Borries says.
Whether this will lead to more product development with Revlon, or other brands, remains to be seen, according to Perelman and von Borries. But von Borries says he sees no risk in tying Refinery29 too closely to one brand, even in a cosmetics business where an endless stream of startup brands have played a growing role in recent years.
"We're partnering with many brands in different verticals," von Borries says. "This is particularly unique because of the needs of the brand."
Drill down into what's coming for retail at Ad Age Next, our biggest annual event, taking place this year at New World Stages in New York on Nov. 13 and 14. In addition to tracks on fast-moving sectors such as retail and e-commerce, esports and mobility, main-stage speakers such as Refinery29 Chief Content Officer Amy Emmerich, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Endeavor Chief Marketing Officer Bozoma Saint John, Girlboss CEO Sophia Amoruso and Oath "digital prophet" David Shing will offer a wide range of views over the horizon. Get all the info here and join us in November.