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Smashbox Ditched Print Ads For Digital, and It's Working

Photo: Smashbox/Facebook

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Two years ago, beauty brand Smashbox decided to stop print advertising completely. Parent company Estée Lauder viewed the move as unorthodox, but Fast Company followed up with Smashbox to see how its all-digital campaigns are going. It turns out that growth is in the double digits, and Smashbox is Lauder's second-fastest growing brand after Tom Ford.

For Smashbox's digital play, the brand dropped expensive print ads and put that money into products. Their campaigns shifted the focus to Smashbox fans, including projects that involved projecting images submitted by social media users onto buildings around Los Angeles.

The brand is also partnering with vloggers through Made at Smashbox, a program that invites YouTube influencers to shoot their videos at Smashbox's photography studios. It's a quid pro quo system that gives vloggers access to the studio and Smashbox's make-up artists, stylists, and a production crew, with no obligation to use Smashbox products in their videos. They do have to promote the studio on social media, while a credit reading "Made at Smashbox" rolls at the end.

"The people who buy Smashbox, we call them provocateurs," Smashbox's global general manager Beth DiNardo told Fast Company. "They are two steps ahead of us. [...] The way they look for what's credible and what's real has completely changed. So the old tactics of me telling you our products are great are not as powerful as making great products and putting them in the hands of people who can vote."