How a major beauty brand boosted its earned media from the Met Gala

A mixture of owned, earned and influencer relations paid off in a big way.

The red carpet

The Met Gala dazzled the internet last week. From the official red carpet coverage (and ensuing “best- and worst-dressed” articles and videos) to the deluge of memes and social chatter, everyone was talking about the clothes, the hair and the faces.

But it can be a little tricky if you’re a major beauty brand without an official presence at the glittering event.

Stacey Levine is a brand marketing and communications consultant in the beauty space, serving clients including Cover Girl, Head and Shoulders, L’Oreal Paris and Herbal Essences. And it was her task last Monday night to help a major, well-known brand break into the social media and earned media cycle. While Levine couldn’t share the client publicly, PR Daily has verified her work.



“It is a beauty brand that is really interested in being part of the cultural conversation,” she explained. “They have a pretty large target audience, from Gen Z up through Millennials and sometimes Gen X, just depending on the product and the focus.”

Levine also helped with the same brand’s social last year, with a heavy focus on the consumer and strengthening relationships with makeup artists and hair stylists. They had a post-mortem to understand what worked and what didn’t and began planning for this year’s gala in January.

Their overarching strategy was “get the look.”

“What that means is a brand will partner with hairstylist or a makeup artist to do a paid sponsorship with them to incorporate that brand’s products into the look that they are already doing for a red carpet, whether that’s Grammys or Oscars or the Met Gala,” Levine explained.

While some felt that the strategy had had its moment and was beginning to fade as consumers became skeptical that the products listed were really being used in the look, Levine believes that the rise of more authentic, less-produced short-form video is fueling a renaissance for the time-honored tactic.

“Especially with TikTok and especially with these artists being able to take a quick video on their phone of the celebrity actually using a hairspray on their hair or something like that, the authenticity has had a resurgence in the way that brands activate around that,” Levine said.

But new this year, the client wanted to involve influencers in their effort in a more personal and mutually rewarding way.  They were helped by the gala’s theme, “The Garden of Time,” which Levine said was more accessible than some other years, where the inspiration might be less familiar to the average consumer, compared to last year’s ode to Karl Lagerfeld. Influencers were more likely to get excited about the possibilities of gardens and time.

Two days after the first Monday in May, Levine and her client held an influencer event in New York City featuring many of their stylist partners who had helped out on the red carpet to break down the looks and the trends.

The stylists who spoke at the event were carefully chosen for not only their makeup and hair prowess, but also for their ability to engage with influencers.

“The things that you want to keep in mind for that are, one, do they have a presence that is aspirational?” Levine said. “Are people following them on social and seeing what the latest trends are? Are they being talked about in the press? Are their looks something that is typically exciting or new or groundbreaking?”

And, of course, they have to be good at speaking to a crowd. While some artists are brilliant at their craft, not everyone can captivate a room of 50 influencers.

So with their carefully chosen stylist ambassadors, it was next time to choose the influencers to be in the room for their event. As an earned media event, none of the attendees were paid to be there, and so the guest list included only New York-based creators, mostly concentrated in the beauty, fashion or lifestyle space.

“We also wanted to have a really diverse mix,” Levine said. “That’s always really important when you’re doing an influencer event like this. You don’t want it to be a room full of people that are all only friends with each other and are seeing the same people. You really want to use opportunities like this to grow those relationships that you have.”

Much like the stars at the Met Gala itself, the influencers were encouraged to dress to the “Garden of Time” theme, and the décor of the event played into the theme as well, with special touches like pocket watch place settings. They ate and rubbed elbows with the stylists while hearing the trend breakdowns.

“These are influencers that were not people that were invited to the Met Gala, so it’s giving them sort of adjacent access to something that they may not have already had access to,” Levine said.

And it paid off. Levine said that their “Get the Look” posts earned both high social engagement and earned media pick up, and that they received plenty of organic posts from the influencers who attended their event as well. Posts reviewed by PR Daily earned more than 100,000 cumulative likes on Instagram and tens of thousands of views on TikTok.

And hot on the heels of that success, Levine is already looking to next year.

“For me, it’s like never getting complacent in what the tactics are, but also remembering that things are tried and true for a reason, not kicking something to the curb just because it’s been done, because there’s always new ways to re-energize thing,” Levine said. “But also making sure that in order to stay ahead of the curve, you really need to be thinking about new ways to do things all the time, and maybe bringing in those ideas that don’t feel so doable and figuring out a way to do them.”


Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


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