Under the influencer: how Universal Music Group and Make Up For Ever found a sweet spot with Jessie J

Jessie J collaborates with Make Up For Ever

Music star Jessie J last week launched her campaign with Make Up For Ever in Japan, the latest part in a long-term, unique influencer partnership.

Universal Music Group launched a campaign in late 2016 with French cosmetics brand Make Up For Ever under the #IAMANARTIST banner that combines elements such as music, brand and influencer marketing.

The campaign saw Grammy-nominated British singer Jessie J collaborating with fashion photographer Rankin and acclaimed international makeup artist Sammy Mourabit to release a single called ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’.

The music video garnered more than two million views on YouTube and streams on Spotify, as well as more than 38,000 posts with the #IAMANARTIST hashtag on Instagram.

The cosmetics brand then launched a lipstick product called ‘Artist Acrylip’ with Jessie J in January this year, before it sponsored the 2017 Grammy Awards after-parties the month after, where it invited 10 influential makeup influencers to meet and attend events with the singer.

The lead up to the Grammy after-parties saw the brand pairing Jessie J up with two beauty bloggers, Nikkie Tutorials and Patrick Starrr to create unique original video collaborations. The videos together generated more than eight million views.

The subsequent months saw Make Up For Ever continue to release new products with Jessie J, as well as make up tutorials. The singer was also in Tokyo, Japan last week to promote the campaign.

MAKE UP FOR EVER #artistrougelight #iamanartist SOOOOOOO FUN!

A post shared by J E S S I E . J (@jessiej) on

Speaking to The Drum in an exclusive interview, Universal Music Group’s global head of new business Olivier Robert-Murphy said it is important for artists to have a connection with brands before they decide on whether it is beneficial to form a partnership.

The global music corporation recently revealed that it has an in-house agency-style team of nine people who research audiences and advise brands on how to work with artists in their marketing campaigns to reach their target market, with further teams around the world capturing global insight across all labels and regions.

“In my experience, it varies artist by artist but one thing remains clear, there needs to be a real connection, a personal interest, a chance to be creative in a new area, or for some, the chance to make a social difference,” said Robert-Murphy.

“Understandably artists want their partnerships to be relevant, creatively challenging and long lasting.”

“We know through our insight tools that the audience interests and Jessie’s passion for makeup were very aligned.

“Also, the data told us that the audience overlap was very strong. And because of this, Jessie J was able to drive the creative output, resulting in a brilliant campaign.”

Robert-Murphy noted that the rise of influencers, from sports stars to YouTubers, means that there are always opportunities for brands to engage in influencer marketing.

“Artists, by definition, are creative people. Brands love having artists involved, and artists love to be able to express themselves and work in a genuine partnership,” he explained.

“The Make Up For Ever campaign worked so well because Jessie fits perfectly with the brand values and was totally involved in the creative from the start. It was a genuine and meaningful association, which we all know is what the public responds to best.”

Make Up For Ever’s global head of communication and brand entertainment Pauline Frachon, agreed with Robert-Murphy, adding that the “brand’s performance is based on its expertise in knowing how to create the right product for all artists in every venue.”

The LVMH-owned brand has in the past collaborated with music artists like English singer Charli XCX, electro pop duo Icona Pop from Sweden and American R&B singer Kehlani.

“We always collaborate with artists who truly embody our brand DNA, are charismatic and who promote artistry and exuberance. We also chose artists who are using makeup to define themselves, considering makeup as a mean of self-expression,” explained Frachon.

“What we do with stage artists is more than an advertising campaign; our goal is to create content, music and share artistry. We support stage artists in all their performances, artistic creations and development of their art.

“As a professional makeup brand, we also truly value the work of professional makeup artists. Each time we team up with stage artists we also give a voice to their makeup artists and a stage to express themselves.

“As a result, we stay true to our brand while connecting emotionally with our consumers.”

According to Robert-Murphy, taking the extra effort to tailor-made its influencer marketing strategy for each of its artists has paid off for Universal. He points to the awards that the company won at Cannes Lions 2017 for their influencer marketing campaigns as an example.

“Every campaign is bespoke, our influencer strategies are worked from the ground-up with each partner, combining our expertise, our insight team’s global input and the brand’s data and creative instincts around their product,” explained Robert-Murphy.

“Importantly, our artists rank amongst the world’s most powerful influencers, their social media reach and the strength of their direct relationships with their fans is unrivalled.

“This campaign helped raise brand awareness, generate significant media exposure and align the Make Up For Ever talent and influencer marketing strategies together, whilst introducing new fans and consumers to the brand," he added.

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Shawn Lim

Shawn Lim is a reporter at The Drum, covering industry news around the Asia Pacific region with a focus on Singapore and Southeast Asia. Based in Singapore, he has worked across photography, video and online, covering a range of subjects including current affairs and sports.

Before Game of Thrones, he was a huge Breaking Bad fan. He does CrossFit and yoga to stay healthy.

All by Shawn