Senior Account Director Natalie Lennon leads the luxury brand category at LEAP. Not only does she ensure a smooth-running workflow for multichannel campaign production across our integrated teams, but she also has her finger on the pulse of industry activations and trends. Recently Natalie attended Stylist Live and in this interview, she shares some of her takeaways from the festival of inspiration.
What is Stylist Live?
Stylist Live is a three-day event put together by Stylist Magazine. They’re a press publication that looks at topics such as lifestyle, fashion, beauty, travel, wellness and entertainment through a feminist lens.
How does it work?
Stylist Live sells tickets to readers and exhibition stands to brands to take part. There are stages for interviews, panel discussions and talks as well as workshops and even catwalk shows. It’s a great way to bring editorial content to life and allow brands to talk to consumers directly.
What were you hoping to see?
I was quite interested in the brand activations. We do a lot of work for beauty, skincare, fragrance and fashion clients, so I was looking especially at brands in these sectors. I wanted to see who was there, who really invested and how they used their space to attract footfall.
What did you find at Stylist Live 2022?
I’ve been to Stylist Live before, and this year I noticed that there were a lot more independent brands. It was inspiring to see so many smaller boutique brands that you might not find on your high street.
What trends did you notice?
The beauty and skincare brands were saying less about makeup and putting more emphasis on skincare. Their messaging was aimed at knowledgeable consumers – for people who understand skin types and are interested in ingredients and whether a product contains certain vitamins or comes from natural sources.
How did the brand activations work?
Some brands set out their stands just as shops while other brands sponsored larger areas and made creative use of their spaces. Some invited you to play games to win prizes like samples and discount codes. At some stands you needed to follow and interact with the brand on Instagram to earn freebies. Some brands had you scan a code on part of their display to place an order through their website.
The most effective brands invested in decorating their full space, putting up wall decals, playing video content on screens, using the décor and art direction to really lean into experiential marketing. To stand out, you needed more than just a white booth with your brand name and products. The brands that booked double or triple stands to create an immersive environment really drew the crowds.
Which brand activations impressed you most?
Max Factor had one of the best beauty brand activations. Their display was all about bringing their brand universe to life. It was brightly coloured and stood out well; you knew what the brand was about as soon as you saw it.
You first see a huge pink lipstick and a wall of golden sparkles with the brand name. Then as you walk into their space, you feel like you’re entering a backstage dressing room. It all speaks of the brand’s movie-set roots.
Q+A Skincare took a playful approach. They decorated their space like a bathroom. They even set out a bathtub with colourful ball pit ‘bubbles’ for visitors to dip into and pull-out small parcels containing vouchers or product samples.
The fashion brand Lucy and Yak brought in a vintage VW campervan and hung out bunting with a 1960s music festival vibe. Everything about their area spoke to their target audience and was an extension of the look and feel of their collection. You knew where to go to find organic dungarees, comfy fleeces and vibrant prints.
Was it all about sales and marketing?
The event had a good balance of the brand engagement and product-focused side of things running alongside other stages where you could hear talks about wellbeing or culture.
The School of Life Stage held workshops on attachment styles, building resilience and other themes. The Happy Place Podcast host Fearne Cotton shared some life lessons about our obsession with goals and achievement. Pandora Sykes was also there with a special version of her book club.
You could plan your day to get a mix of everything. That’s what keeps audiences coming back year after year.
Apart from all the fun free samples, what else will you be taking away from your experience at Stylist Live?
It’s given me inspiration to enhance how we facilitate brand activations with our clients. You could see how the brands that got the most engagement and attracted the biggest crowds really invested in the in-person interaction with their consumers. I love working with our clients on all different types of their advertising and marketing campaigns, but it’s especially exciting to work on the ones that tie-in with interactive, experiential activations.
Want to talk more with Natalie and the team about brand activations? Get in touch to arrange a meeting.
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