It takes a great event to impress beauty editors who have seen — and sampled — it all. At the April media launch of Coty Prestige's new “Harajuku Lovers” fragrance collection, created by pop superstar Gwen Stefani, Los Angeles-based TBA Global made just such a splash. Through a mix of design, entertainment and pure creativity, the TBA team took 70 New York beauty editors to Japan's Harajuku District, inspiration for Stefani's fragrance line. “It would have been easy to just rely on a megastar to make a product stand out,” says Alison Smith Jenks, TBA's vice president of marketing. “But we wanted to push the envelope and submerse the editors in the energy of the Harajuku District culture.”
WELCOME TO JAPAN
The funky, hip quality of the Harajuku District is reflected in Stefani's fragrance bottles, which are molded in the shape of the “Harajuku Girls,” the singer's backup dancers. “Stefani is a creative genius, and her work is visually stunning,” Jenks says. “Our job was to take the creative concepts she designed with Coty and bring them to life.”
The event team started with the venue — a chic downtown loft space — which TBA chose for its size, aesthetics and proximity to magazine offices and hotels. “We didn't want the editors to travel too far,” Jenks points out. To turn the space into a fantastical “Harajuku world,” the event team designed five unique lounge areas, representative of the collections' five different scents and bottles. Larger-than-life bottle figurines adorned the space, while paper lanterns dangled from the ceiling. Sleek Lucite chairs displayed decals inspired by the Harajuku line: a mix of Japanese characters, hearts and other symbols. Bathroom doors featured Japanese anime characters in place of the usual male and female symbols, while projections of Stefani's song lyrics scrolled atop coffee tables.
Waiters passed selections from a Japanese-influenced menu on bamboo trays. The editors munched on mini tuna burgers with wasabi mayonnaise, sake-marinated fried chicken, jicama and lotus root dumplings, and wasabi peas. Coconut sorbet, green tea ice cream and hibiscus tea with lavender honey provided a sweet finale.
On a stage designed to resemble a Japanese teahouse, a multi-panel video projector displayed images of Stefani and her Harajuki Girls morphing into anime figures while her hits played. As a nod to Japanese theater, each anime figure was then revealed as a live dancer in silhouette behind rice paper scrims. “Showing just their silhouettes provided a really cool feel and added to the mystery and anticipation of Stefani's appearance on stage,” Jenks says.
The stage's center screen opened to reveal Stefani herself, who then sat with a Coty executive for an informal, talk show-style Q&A session. This personal format “allowed her personality to shine through,” Jenks says. TBA also scheduled one-on-one interview sessions with Stefani for the editors. “It was the ideal situation for a media launch,” Jenks says.
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