Since launching in 2010, Birchbox has been the beauty editor BFF most women wish they had, sending subscribers a monthly medley of luxe samples to try, love, and buy. The sample selections are always accompanied with a unifying theme like "Spring Training" or "In the Spotlight" for the enclosed products, but May’s delivery is about to bring some added drama to the doorsteps of many. In its first-ever major media partnership, Birchbox has collaborated with the CW’s Gossip Girl for a special-edition box curated by the show’s makeup department head Amy Tagliamonti and hair department head Jennifer Johnson.
"Ever since we started Birchbox, we had this idea of how it can be an incredible way to collaborate with large brands to reach our customers in an intimate way," says Katia Beauchamp, cofounder of Birchbox. "So we always had this dream of partnerships where we could take something that isn’t as tangible for a customer, bring it to them, and have an incredible impact for a brand." After multiple conversations with movie, music, and TV studios, it was the glamorous trends Gossip Girl has inspired among its fans and the buzz around season five’s finale in May that proved the perfect combination for collaboration.
Birchbox subscribers can expect customary editorial content within the box giving a rundown of the samples and tutorials on how to use them effectively, but it’s obvious the Gossip Girl edition warrants a little something extra. "You can think about it as being a real souped-up theme," says Beauchamp. "The theme of the box is going to be based on different major events that happened within the show, so we will be creating a ton of original content around that with interviews from the styling teams that bring those looks to life."
In addition to ancillary content, the Gossip Girl campaign is stepping out of the box with Birchbox hosting viewing parties in New York City and Los Angeles and a social media push to generate conversations online. "It’s like Birchbox but at the next level," says Beauchamp. "We’re all coming together to create a program that makes a lot of sense both for our audience and Gossip Girl’s audience to get everyone excited about what these types of partnerships can be." And, as it turns out, these types of partnerships could very well be the future of brand integration.
Birchbox has built their company on the idea of supplying subscribers with well-vetted samples to take the guesswork, not to mention cost, out of discovering new products. Couple that with a media entity like Gossip Girl that already has its heels dug deep in beauty and fashion pop culture, and a level of brand integration transparency is engendered between the consumer and brand—no longer is it a situation of skimming magazines and blogs for who used what and committing to unknown products, it’s about receiving personally curated samples contextualized by those directly in-the-know.
"I definitely would expect us to continue to do partnerships where we have the ability to bring a brand to life and develop an engaging process to customers—something that’s hard to do because large brands can be large brands," says Beauchamp. "But all of a sudden with Birchbox, you get your brand into the customer’s home as products that make sense to them—you can imagine there’s a different level of engagement when the customer has the context of that brand."
With the Gossip Girl campaign well underway, the Birchbox team continues to have their feelers out for future collaborations. Beauchamp’s personal choice? The women of Saturday Night Live. "They’re beautiful and smart and we would be so thrilled to have all of that intelligence, confidence, and humor be a brand," she says. Wanting to go from high-gloss characters Serena van der Woodsen and Blair Waldorf, to less-than-sexy SNL staples like Gilly and Bedelia might seem like a curious contradiction for the future of Birchbox partnerships, but Beauchamp wouldn’t have it any other way. "There are so many sides of us," she says. "As a woman, as anybody, you can love different things for different reasons and that’s really what Birchbox is about."