Estee Lauder Gets Women Ready for Their Social-Media Close-ups

Cosmetics Giant Offers Makeovers and Professional Photos to Use for Profile Pictures

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BATAVIA, Ohio ( -- The venerable Estee Lauder cosmetics brand has found a seemingly natural way to connect with social media: offering free makeovers and photo shoots at its department-store cosmetics counters coast-to-coast to produce shots women can use for their online profiles.

Estee Lauder promotionEnlarge
The promotion kicks off at Bloomingdale's in New York on Oct. 16.

The promotion, which kicks off Oct. 16 at Bloomingdale's in New York and will extend initially to Macy's, Saks and other Bloomingdale's stores in Southern California, Miami and Chicago, also includes a giveaway of a 10-day supply of foundation.

Defying convention in a prestige cosmetics industry that has buried consumers under piles of makeup totes and other "gifts with purchase" for decades, no purchase is required for these gifts. The gift that the brand hopes will keep on giving is that the profile photos include the Estee Lauder logo in the background, which, assuming they aren't Photoshopped into oblivion, could give the brand lasting presence on Facebook beyond its own 27,000-member plus fan page. The promotion is being plugged on that page, as well as on Estee Lauder's website, and the company is also using PR to spread the word.

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With a target age of 35 to 55, Estee Lauder consumers aren't necessarily prototypical social-media mavens. But the promotion has a dual strategy, said spokeswoman Tara Eisenberg: helping contemporize the brand for younger women while recognizing that somewhat older women have rapidly embraced social media, too.

The initial flight of a half-dozen such events is something of a test that, if successful, could be extended to more stores and cities, Ms. Eisenberg said. "It's not something you can do every day," she said, "because you do have to hire a photographer."

The photographer will do "some minor retouching," she said. "Nothing crazy, print out the picture and also e-mail it to the customer."

Purchase isn't required, but the promotion does get women to the counter to talk with reps and try makeup, a habit Estee Lauder and the prestige beauty industry, hit hard by recession, would like to help restore.

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