Since its arrival in 2005, international beauty brand Sephora has made its presence increasingly felt in the fast-growing Chinese market. But in 2011, the brand was looking to go a step further and find a fresh, integrated way to talk to consumers, to increase brand awareness and to underline the company's position as a leading authority in the beauty industry.
Many TV channels in China accept brand sponsorship for their shows - but the challenge is to truly integrate a brand's message and values. Sponsors often end up paying to simply show their logo on-screen during a show, a fallback in the face of complex issues that arise around editorial control when dealing with TV channels and the authorities.
To meet Sephora's brief, our experiential agency in Asia, Emotion, created China's first ever branded content reality TV show - "The Sephora Beauty Academy". The 10-episode show was broadcast on one of the country's biggest satellite channels - Dragon TV - from July to September 2011 and also on video website Tudou. The Sephora Beauty Academy followed 12 aspiring make-up and beauty artists from across China as they competed to become the brand's first Asian beauty ambassador.
With a multicultural production crew and the famous French reality TV show director Alexis De Gemini, the show was created and produced entirely around Sephora's brand values. Leveraging Chinese viewers' fascination with all things luxury, fashion and beauty, the show also brought a rarely-seen entertaining side of the world of make-up and beauty to life.