One Minute With... Hannah Webley-Smith, Benefit Cosmetics

Benefit Cosmetics' marketing director UK & ROI, Hannah Webley-Smith gives Event the lowdown on her highlights from last year, the driving force behind the brand's activity and plans for 2016.

One of Webley-Smith's standout activations was the Curl's Best Friend pop-up
One of Webley-Smith's standout activations was the Curl's Best Friend pop-up

Benefit was particularly active with its experiential activity in 2015, from paint parties and Twitter-powered vending machines to its ‘They’re Real!’ tour. In November the make-up brand opened a tropical pop-up, complete with palms trees and Hoola girl, and this year has already seen a link-up with Starbucks to deliver a series of pop-up parlour experiences.

What has been your experiential highlight of the past 12 months?

In February we launched ‘Curl’s Best Friend’ - a pop up, three-storey curl and cocktail bar in London, that celebrated the launch of our new mascara, Roller Lash. It created a brand world that brought Benefit and Roller Lash to life. On the ground floor we created a 1950s style parlour complete with salon-style chairs, hood-hairdryer lamps, retro brick walls and bespoke flooring in brand colours.

On the first floor sat a beauty salon and curl station where guests could trial and buy the Roller Lash product, as well as receive one of three types of curly blow dries. To celebrate and protect the existing brand of Benefit’s best-selling mascara, they’re Real!, a secret Noir Bar was created on the second floor which opened from 7pm until late each evening.

For the month we were open, we reached venue capacity every night with over 3,000 women coming through the doors and trialing the product. The campaign hashtag #RollerLash generated over 72,300,000 impressions and was 99% positive in tone.

Knowing that our audience is prevalent right across the UK, we also took Curl’s Best Friend on the road (in a 40ft shipping container) and brought the experience to four cities across the UK, including Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff.

What is the driving force behind your activity?

The customer has always been, and will always be, our starting point and driving force. Right from product conception and innovation, we are always answering a customer need. Our products will always do as much as possible for the customer – multifunctional "fix its" and "fake its" is part of our ethos so that naturally spills into our experiential activity. We provide spaces and experiences for women to discover our products in a fun and inclusive way.

Is there a consistent brand message you aim to get across with Benefit's experiential activity?

"Laughter is the Best Cosmetic - so Grin & Wear It!!". For us, the key is to appeal to an attitude. Success lies in creating a conversation, having fun with the many faces of our customer and celebrating their beauty however they choose to portray it. Whether that’s marching around the streets of London, as part of our Bold is Beautiful campaign, sipping Benetini’s with your girlfriends at our recent experiential activity, or in store learning about our latest product launch from our trained Benebabes.

What will 2016 bring?

2016 is going to be our biggest year yet. We will be taking our learnings from the Gabbi’s Head in 2014 and Curl’s Best Friend last year to create the ultimate branded customer experience.

More: Power Brands case study: Benefit's Rollerlash campaign

Benefit to activate at National Television Awards

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