Refinery29 is adding to its executive ranks as it looks to take its popular 29Rooms event international.
Katherine Tooley is coming on as the new senior vice president of experiential, where she will oversee all of Refinery29’s live events, including its lead event 29Rooms, which the company intends to expand outside the U.S. for the first time this year. Launched in 2015, 29Rooms is a ticketed event that includes just that, 29 rooms, all created with brand partners and advertisers that are interactive representations of various topics, like style and technology.
Through a new partnership with IMG, part of mega-agency William Morris Endeavor, Refinery is planning to expand 29Rooms in the U.S. and launch in at least four new markets this year, including Canada, and possibly the U.K. and Australia. The deal with IMG will see the agency produce the events and bring it to even more marketers.
Tooley will also oversee Refinery’s other events, all co-branded, of which around 30 were held in 2018 and even more are expected this year. No wonder, as the events portion of Refinery’s business is profitable, according to the company. Past events have included things like screenings, book tours and retail takeovers, and often create revenue from ticket sales and advertising or branding deals.
Amy Emmerich, Refinery’s chief content officer to whom Tooley will report, said the company is “fortunate” to have her help build out the events business even further.
“Katherine is an amazing talent with a wealth of experience in the experiential space, and we’re excited for her vision to bring new and meaningful ways for audiences to interact with our content, our brand partners and each other,” Emmerich said.
Before joining Refinery, Tooley was executive vice president of event operations and production at Superfly, an event and marketing agency best known for producing music festivals like Bonnaroo and Outside Lands. Tooley was with Superfly for 15 years producing and coordinating events and working in artists’ relations. Such a background could be a signal of where Refinery is looking to take its events next, namely bigger, but also possibly to include more direct work with music talent.
Tooley said she’s “always admired Refinery29’s ability to capture and understand their audience,” citing 29Rooms, in particular.
“I’m excited to help grow the 29Rooms experience as well as develop new properties and partnerships that bring the same level of innovation and creativity that will showcase Refinery29 as a leader in the experiential and live event space,” Tooley said.
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