Stylist has returned with its annual festival of inspiration but this year, due to Covid-19, the core aspects of what would usually be a weekend-long, in-person event have changed to become a digital offering.
"Stylist Live at home" will be a two-day event starting on 14 November, with three digital stages each named after core themes for the festival. Armani will host a "Stay Connected" stage and Lululemon a "Stay Calm" stage. The third stage – "Stay Positive" – does not have a title sponsor.
Sophie Robinson, chief marketing officer at The Stylist Group, tells Campaign that Armani and Lululemon bought in to the theme and tone of their stages and while the content for each has been editorially led by Stylist it was done with an understanding of the brand's briefs. The partnership with Armani was brokered via Essence with LuLulemon handled in-house.
Bringing beauty and wellness events to a digital format has been increasingly popular because of the limitations on hosting an in-person experience. Jane Walsh, chief executive at beauty specialist agency Seen Group, works with clients including Fenty, Simple and Revlon. She has observed the shift from real life to online events and feels audiences are using online interactions as a source of enrichment.
Walsh says: "In the first half of the year, there was talk of Zoom fatigue, now we're seeing that the female audience, in particular, is moving to a place where they don't see the screen as the enemy; they're putting strategies, routines and rituals in place so that screen time can be something that enriches them – with online talks, fitness classes and the like – as well as something they associate with work."
Grazia partnered Bare Minerals and No.7 for a week-long digital beauty event in October. With Zoom webinars and social media, content consumers were able to pick up tips from celebrities and influencers. Klarna created "Klarnival" in August, with a styling masterclass from New Look, festival make-up with Morphe and a range of musical performances. Women's Health was among the early adopters, hosting a virtual event following the postponement of "Women's Health Live". The virtual festival was inspired by the event's original schedule, with workouts and talks live-streamed via its Facebook page.
Due to the digital nature of the Stylist event, brands are able to have a multilayered presence. Robinson says: "Because the whole thing is a digital experience it means they can have their digital ads on the platform, click through to digital articles, branding of the talks and streaming of their ads before the talks. It's a really seamless way to get sponsorship into an event when you do it digitally."
In 2019 Stylist delivered its first "Stylist Live Luxe", a smaller-scale event with a more luxury focus than "Stylist Live" that had been running for four years. Most recently held at Magazine London, it consists of three core pillars: talks, interactive experiences and shopping.
For "Stylist Live at home", pre-recorded talks will take place across the digital stages. Consumers will be able to have an interactive experience through conversations that Stylist will facilitate over social media and a range of practical masterclasses, such as a meditation workshop, with Nahid de Belgeonne, and Lululemon fitness classes that will enable people to get up and move.
The shopping aspect of the event will be delivered through curated lists. With a two-tier ticket system, those who selected a VIP experience will be able to create their own gift bag worth £60 using a variety of free product codes that can be applied at online retailers.
Not only has the event been designed to be accessible to at-home audiences but the content was also planned with the current pandemic 2020 mood at its core. Faye Lancey, head of production at Hyperactive, returned to work as a new mother in 2020 and feels the change in our daily habits has provided opportunities for brands to connect with audiences on a more meaningful level.
Lancey says: "While it remains a huge challenge, there's also an opportunity for my industry and others to connect with audiences on a more meaningful level. There's a chance to cut through the (sometimes) superfluous noise and give people an exciting escape from the monotony... all without having to leave the house, or nursing chair. 2020 has proved, if anything, that there's no slowing the appetite and desire for escapism."
The initial planning stages of "Stylist Live at home" took place in the knowledge that a second lockdown could be on the cards and, after this was confirmed by the Prime Minister, the decision was taken to film all the content remotely rather than using a studio set-up.
Robinson adds: "We have planned all the content around the pandemic, 2020 and everything that's been going on. So as soon as there was a lockdown we said, that changes how we're going to do the event, but it makes the content more relevant and probably means people will need it more."
Looking ahead to 2021, Robinson feels that it makes sense for the event to return to its in-person format and is looking forward to the return to venues. She says: "I don't think [Stylist Live at home] will replace Stylist Live, because people really love the social side of it. They go with their friends, they have their cocktails and enjoy receiving a tangible goodie bag."
While many events will inevitably return to their traditional format, Walsh feels now is as good a time as ever to connect with consumers. She explains that a more immersive experience can be achieved by offering participants access to experts, sending products, refreshments and information to attendees ahead of time.
She adds: "In beauty and wellness, in particular, we’re seeing people reinvent their homes as wellness hubs. They’re investing in new at-home wellness equipment, and sales of home fragrances and scented candles have increased dramatically. All this makes something like Stylist Live at home a perfect proposition."