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Bobbi Brown’s Flair for Digital Creativity

The beauty company's marketing guru Alicia Sontag talks the art of digital strategy.

Bobbi Brown Cosmetics is banking on digital creativity to grow its business.

Through its close-knit team and clever use of social media, the beauty company has found multiple ways to increase brand awareness.

According to Alicia Sontag, Bobbi Brown senior vice president of global marketing, the brand has been able to trade off of five core strategies that implement product and celebrity endorsement.

The first strategy, which Sontag dubbed “smokeshow,” leverages social and digital media strategies to “seem bigger than you are,” meaning getting the most bang for your somewhat limited buck. The executive offered up the case of Katie Holmes, who signed on as the face of Bobbi Brown. The company was able to translate Holmes into massive media impressions, beginning with a cover story in WWD.


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Within a few days, the story garnered 330 million media impressions, not to mention television pickups from “Extra,” “Good Morning America” and “Today.”

To keep the story fresh, Sontag gave The Huffington Post an exclusive photo of Holmes, which helped bring total impressions to more than six billion globally, she said.

“Don’t ask me how we got six billion impressions, because there are only six billion people in the world,” Sontag said with a chuckle, adding that her p.r. department “assured” her the total was accurate.

Bobbi Brown’s second strategy is to use “new influencers.” Sontag offered the example of the royal wedding, in which the brand exploited the fact that it provided “makeup artistry assistance” to members of the wedding party. The company posted the news on its Facebook page. In order to commemorate the anniversary of the wedding, Bobbi Brown is currently running a host of bridal-themed events, such as a contest.

The third principle, dubbed “high touch,” is related to bridging the gap between the personal experience a shopper receives from shopping in-store versus online. The cosmetics company launched a live chat for customers, which allowed them to talk directly to Bobbi Brown makeup artists. The chat led to a robust program that the brand now uses to help customers find the correct foundation for their skin tone.

The fourth strategy, called “Fashionably Early,” traded on shoppers’ appetites to buy earlier and find deals in advance of holiday. By introducing consumers to new launches via the brand’s online channel first, followed by e-mail blasts and Cyber Monday promotions, Bobbi Brown said it was able to increase traffic and conversion considerably.

The final strategy, “Pretty Powerful,” is linked to the creative efforts of the brand, which includes blogs, video makeup workshops and an online campaign that incorporates real women versus models.

“Our digital flagship needs to be our forethought,” Sontag concluded.