Friday, August 26, 2011

Lauren Conrad's Sponsorship Strategy! (Forbes Lifestyle Part 5)

"A good number of companies first approached me to sponsor their brands while I was on Laguna Beach. From the moment I received my first offer I knew I had to be selective. Working with the wrong company could potentially distort my image and ultimately chip away at the faith of my fans. A sponsorship makes sense only when the company or product aligns with the qualities of my overall brand and most importantly, my personal interests.


The first endorsement I ever accepted was a deal to promote a fashion game called “Designer’s World” with the toy company Hasbro. The game allowed girls to experience the high-stakes world of fashion with an interactive console. My fans trusted my support of the game since it was a logical extension of my known interest in fashion—the deal made sense with my brand. Since my first partnership with Hasbro, I have gone on to work with companies such as Old Navy, AT&T, Sony VAIO, Linea Pelle, Kohl’s, the EYE Care Campaign and Avon’s Mark cosmetics.

Sponsorships are a diverse breed—each and every one is different. My commitments have ranged from a single day of press to multi-year contracts complete with photo shoots, press, events and various forms of product placement. Social media has also become a major factor in recent years. Most deals today require Twitter, Facebook and other forms of digital outreach. Having a substantial online presence is especially advantageous these days because larger followings and stronger connections with your market translate to a greater scope of influence, adding immeasurable value to your brand.

Aside from personal deals, I have taken on digital sponsors for my website, LaurenConrad.com. Through paid online sponsorships I am able to financially sustain my website by showcasing brands such as JewelMint and Sircuit Cosmeceuticals, which I believe my community would be interested in.

Avon’s Mark makeup line was a benchmark partnership because the deal was mutually risky: It was the first time Avon would be taking on a celebrity to face their brand and it would be my first experience as a brand ambassador. I got into business with Mark in 2006 when they were still a catalog-driven brand without any celebrity ties. They were looking for someone with a clean and aspirational image that would resonate with the young women who sold their products. When they first approached me, I was ecstatic. I’ve always had a penchant for all things beauty and welcomed the opportunity.

What began as a simple campaign grew into an incredible brand ambassadorship which enabled me to promote the message of empowering women and also learn about the corporate side of the beauty industry. Not only was I promoting a line of beauty products I truly adored, I was inspiring young women through the m.powerment campaign which works to prevent partner violence among young women in abusive relationships. I ended up doing a PSA as well as developing several products for Mark, the profits of which went to the m.powerment fund. This sponsorship is the perfect example of aligning oneself with a brand you truly believe in.

The most important lesson I’ve learned when it comes to associating yourself with another brand is to be selective. The sponsorships you turn down are just as important as the ones you agree to—it’s vital to work with companies that are harmonious with your brand. Let’s say I was to randomly promote a professional sports network. This would be an automatic red flag to my fans since I have zero connection with sports and wouldn’t make any sense. By being selective, I strengthen the connection with my fans as well as their confidence in me.

At the end of the day, it’s really about staying true to yourself and your fans."

- Lauren Conrad

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