Fohr Hosts the Sephora Squad for 2023 SEPHORiA: House of Beauty
Last updated on
October 10, 2023
Over the last five years running the Sephora Squad ambassador program, it has become an institution. For the first time, this year’s SEPHORiA event was hosted in New York City, and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to host.
SEPHORiA: House of Beauty is an in-person and virtual experience where beauty is for everyone, self-expression is honored, diversity is celebrated, and fun is in the foundation. This is Sephora's biggest beauty event of the year—a place to meet beauty icons, learn about the newest products, enjoy incredible swag and more.
Fohr offered to host 'The Lounge' in our office space to celebrate this occasion and welcome this year's Squad to the Big Apple. Serving as an extension of the SEPHORiA experience, the Lounge was a dedicated space for the Squad to build community, connect with brands, and learn — before, after, or in between sessions and master classes at SEPHORiA.
It wouldn't be a Fohr event without a few beverages. We also hosted a Sephora Squad x Brands Happy Hour with over 100 people attending. This was a time when the Squad and Alumni got to connect with brands sold at Sephora and the Fohr team, mingle with each other, and build a stronger sense of community with the Squad.
Takeaways from our Panel Q&A
For this year’s SEPHORiA event, Sephora brought together the 2023 Squad for a Fohr-led panel featuring our Founder & CEO James Nord, VP of Strategy Grace Murray Vazquez, Senior Creative Strategist Sophie Wood, and Senior Associate on the Fohr Sephora team, Livia Prasinos.
They covered questions about UGC, paid media, key messages, briefs, and more.
Here’s a brief snippet of some of the questions answered in our Q&A panel (This has been edited for brevity):
Audience Question: My question is pitching specifically for content you've already created organically around the brand for paid media. How would you go like, ‘hey, I made this already. Do you want to use it for paid media?’
James Nord: Great question. Grace, do you want to speak about the overwhelming demand for paid media content?
Grace Murray Vazquez: Yes. This year, it seems like many of our clients have reorganized their teams to have their paid social and influencer teams working closely together. Previously, there was a significant disconnect. Some brands still face a disconnect where the person creating the content and the person being pitched to are different. It can be tricky.
When pitching how the content is used in paid media, it's important to rely on the results you have already seen your content drive in paid. The first step is to obtain those results from the teams already utilizing your content in paid media. If brands that have already used your content in paid media are asking to extend its usage, it's a clear indication that it's working effectively.
Instead of just providing them with a rate to extend the usage term, ask for the results that it has generated. Request any insights they can provide, as they may have additional analytics on their side. Utilize the Fohr app to pitch to the brands you're working with and highlight that creator content outperforms their branded content in paid social. The disconnect in results prevents us from earning more money and reinvesting in influencer work to support paid media. If brands are extending the usage, ask for data or results to compare how it's performing against other content. Use that as evidence that your content is surpassing their branded assets.
JN:One potential concern is that around half of influencer spend is driven by the desire to have paid assets. Brands are collaborating with creators with smaller followings to save money and invest in paid media for their content. However, influencers who have proven their ability to build an audience create the most compelling content brands want to promote with paid media.
It's crucial to maintain quality and not assume that brands can avoid paying influencers with a large following and simply rely on paid media for their content. Brands are always looking to save money, but there is still a significant demand for paid media. Content that performs well organically also performs well in paid media. For example, Sephora had one of their most successful ads of all time with a "Get Ready With Me" TikTok video in an abandoned field. This success has led Sephora to consider pushing boundaries even further.
Audience Question: How do you make paid content feel organic? Sometimes, brands will approach me, and the brief will be kind of rigid, like, ‘these are the messages we want to send and hit all these points.’ How do you make it feel less like an ad and make it feel organic while still trying to hit all of their key messages?
Sophie Wood: This topic has been extensively discussed because I believe that brands and agencies should also provide clear guidelines in their briefings. They should allow for enough creative freedom to generate organic content that resonates. Instead of providing a script for someone to read off, we want to avoid that approach. As creators, we are responsible for focusing on creating content that performs well. If I review a brief and realize that regurgitating six key messages won't resonate, I wouldn't use that language. I know that I can create better content by leveraging what works best for me.
Concepting is also crucial. You can discuss it with a campaign manager and propose a more engaging and organic approach that aligns with the brand's goals. You can even showcase examples of successful past sponsored content that connected well with your audience.
Advocating for yourself and creating content that excites you is important. When you lack passion for the content, it becomes evident and unfavorable. We all have the same objective, so let's collaborate to achieve it. We can easily discern when the content doesn't feel authentic to your audience and you as a creator. Especially for Sephora, there are specific legal language requirements in paid media messaging, particularly for the skincare community. It can feel forced and unnatural.
Livia Prasinos: I wholeheartedly agree with Sophie. Advocate for yourself and carefully review the brief. If you have ideas to make it more engaging and organic, reach out to us and pitch your idea. We are open to curating content that works best for you and your platform and are happy to convey that to the brand. It may take time to convince a brand, but we can take small steps and demonstrate the success of content that resonates with your audience. It's worth it, even if it takes longer.
It's a delicate balance, and being present in brand discussions helps us understand their perspective. Working with creators is a new experience for many brands with significant budgets. We can draw insights from past examples, like how TiVo modified its commercials to convey the message even when the consumer was fast-forwarding. Similarly, most people only view a post on social media for a few seconds. If we can at least display the brand name or logo within those few seconds, it creates brand recognition. It's about creating a sense that the brand is ubiquitous. Sephora acknowledges that sales won't happen immediately on social media, but the goal is to influence purchase decisions when consumers are in the store.
Showing the product's performance before actually revealing the product itself is important. Demonstrating the visual benefits can be more effective than simply describing them. We have been discussing the need to entertain and go beyond the lens of what the audience needs to take away instead of solely focusing on key messages. Some messages are better conveyed through visual representation.
We are striving to prioritize key takeaways rather than an exhaustive list of key messages. Some messages can be implicit or understood without being explicitly verbalized or written. Leading with the problem and then presenting the solution is a great approach. Sell the solution to the problem, not just the product itself. These discussions and feedback loops are essential as the landscape evolves. Best practices change, and it is crucial for brands to keep up and adapt.
We were honored to host our 2023 Squad for this special event at the Fohr office! Learn more about the Sephora Squad ambassador program, here.