I really enjoy the opportunities that I get to attend and review brand experience events. With my nibbled nails, seemingly everlasting tub of value skin moisturiser, hasty occasional hairbrush and outdoor living weather-worn wrinkles I’m not the most obvious candidate for a health and beauty show.
Nevertheless, I do advocate wellness and wellbeing, I am super fit, and I do have an understanding of the link between looking good and projecting and feeling confident.
In short, I think I looked a fish out of water at Friday’s Superdrug Presents, but I didn’t feel it, and I loved seeing the event in action, matching the expectations of its desired audience. The event was put together for Superdrug by agency N2O.
Here’s how it went
I arrived at the Truman Brewery, Brick Lane on a brisk, chilly but fortunately dry Friday morning, fortunate because enthusiastic ticket holders had turned up at the opening time for the event and processing us into puce event wristbands had caused a snaky queue up the Lane and around the next corner. The queue moved well, but it lasted long enough for a total drenching on a less appealing day.
Once admitted to the event those in the know immediately sought out further appointments – for nails, make-up and hair. I took a quick tour around the various brand exhibitors whilst getting to grips with the system and found, once I had worked out the method that I had missed all bookable slots to get my nails done. Never mind though, as I was alert enough to book myself onto the Pacifca Beauty masterclass, the first of three masterclasses that would be hosted at Superdrug Presents that day.
As masterclasses go this session was a little fragmented. There wasn’t an awful lot to it. Three engaging individuals discussed the range, the products and the Pacifica philosophy whilst the audience sat with product and mirrors to play with. There was an odd bit of chat in which the influencers on the stage discussed their Tiktok content and stated their assumption that everyone attending was also making Tiktoks. This assumption was then generally accepted by the room, and we were shown how to make a transformation video. I made one on the spot, magically auto-unboxing my bottle of ‘Cruelty Free’ Pacifica Glow Baby with canny use of the pause button on my phone.
That assumption, about Tiktok, I found very telling. I was aware, as I should be, of the growth of the platform, but perhaps I had missed out on a new hierarchy and indeed hire-archy of influence. Be Yourself, we were told. Don’t try an be [name of stellar influencer who everyone knew], just be yourself. The mid-tier influencers on the stage were our link on earth to the god tier influencers. They, in turn, were on hand to help the family and friends health and beauty influencers in the room.
And, in spite of the fairly obvious content, I became, there and then a Pacifica brand ambassador, because this brand experience was immersive and engaging. Why? Well, I was fully focused on the brand for several minutes. I sampled the brand in a room of enthusiasts, I was forced to think about how it felt on my skin, I was told the not too shocking price, I liked the philosophy, and I really liked the product.
In the daily hubbub there simply isn’t room and space for this. I might not be buying a lot of Pacifica product for myself, but I’d buy it for others and I’d recommend it*.
This, in essence is how Superdrug Presents works its magic. Almost every stand is sampling product to people, but it isn’t just giving it away. You have to sign up, you have to sit and engage, you have to play a game to win… these are often simple mechanisms, but they engage for long enough to make you properly consider the brand. Superdrug Presents had photo booths, wheels to spin to win, Britney bottles to knock over with beanbags, a fairground style hook and grab game – a litany of simple mechanisms to delay visitors for just long enough to give the products consideration.
And above all of these brand sits Superdrug, the store, the host. Here is a retailer behaving like a curator, a shop that is proud of the brands it displays.
I left Superdrug Presents with a whole new respect for the store and its effort to connect with its shoppers through its brands. This type of promotion for multiple brands and the retailer was fully energised by N2O. The staff at the event were relentlessly upbeat and buzzy. Everywhere I looked, in all corners of the hall, there was excitement, enthusiasm and joy.
On my way home from Shoreditch, having left the event behind, I was given a free full can sample of a CBD-infused drink in a can at Liverpool Street station. It was practically thrown at me. Unexpectedly I liked it, but by then I had recycled the can and now I’m not sure of its name. The lashes that I spun for and won at Superdrug Presents and fluttery and light and are by Eyelure London.
*I did go to town to check out the full range. Sadly, Pacifica is not currently stocked at Superdrug Chippenham. I assumed it would be after this news in 2022, and the mutual event support. It is available online via Superdrug.
(C) Text and Photography, Frank Wainwright