Last month's launch of teenage fashion, beauty and lifestyle show SistaStyle gave magazine Cosmo Girl the perfect opportunity to meet readers and find new ones.
Title owner The National Magazine Company (Nat Mags) was struck by how well the event's ethos matched the magazine's brand. "The whole concept and attitude of the show fits. Our mission is to celebrate fun, glamour and a passion for life, and to inspire teen girls to get the best they can out of life," says Cosmo Girl publisher Judith Secombe.
The monthly magazine created a 120 sq m stand that featured six makeover booths and a retail area staffed by Clinique consultants, with a studio for photo shoots at the centre. More than 2,000 Cosmo Girl goody bags, which included a copy of the latest issue, were sold for £1 each.
Cosmetics brand Clinique has been working with the title since it launched in 2001. "We offer a sophisticated and aspirational editorial environment and Clinique can target teen girls at their point of entry into the cosmetics market," explains Secombe.
Makeover areas have worked well for Cosmo Girl, particularly at Clotheshow Live at the NEC over the past two years, although with a different make-up brand, Maybelline New York. "They are the kind of thing that our readers really love," says Secombe.
But while Nat Mags has previously launched shows on the back of its titles - such as Country Living at London's Business Design Centre based on the eponymous lifestyle monthly and the defunct Cosmo Show, designed around flagship women's title Cosmopolitan - the strategy for Cosmo Girl favours established events.
Nat Mags staged roadshows when Cosmo Girl launched but the publisher now questions their true value. "They are hard to organise and an expensive way of taking the brand to readers," admits Secombe. "We're publishers so we stick to what we do best. We have the medium to publicise events such as SistaStyle and support it editorially and in that context it works very well."
The show was devised by The Style Group to reflect what girls like - shopping, music, make-up, and hanging out with mates. So in addition to the makeover area, other features included a DJ bar sponsored by web magazine mykindaplace.com and radio station Kiss 100, the Polaroid i-zone fashion stage, and clothing brand Pucca's Love Lounge.
Activities ranging from celebrity appearances, fashion shows and dance demonstrations punctuated the three-day event that attracted a host of exhibitors from high street clothing stores.
"We wanted to give visitors value for money," says The Style Group managing director Heidi Milner. "Where else can you have a makeover with Clinique, see a fantastic stage production with models and breakdancers, and watch Top 10 performers such as Jamelia and Big Brovaz for £12?"
Cosmo Girl's Secombe believes SistaStyle offers more then other youth-oriented shows in the area. "London hasn't got anything like this. The teen environment and live elements are missing," she says. But she does voice concern at the event's location. "Despite being a fantastic venue, I'm not convinced Excel is the best one for teen girls," she suggests.
Affluent but fickle
Teenagers may be more affluent and brand-aware than ever but the youth market remains notoriously fickle. Visitor figures of 5,000 fell well short of the 15,000 target. Despite this, Milner is confident the show will develop. "We went into it quite green and idealistic but we have some quality feature areas," she maintains.
"Exhibitors have been very supportive and we know our marketing programme for next year needs to be more extensive."
But Secombe believes that Nat Mags' involvement was good for the Cosmo Girl brand. "On the whole we are very happy," she says. "It's year one, and for us it's about brand presence and awareness. The SistaStyle brand is right, it just needs to grow."
Date: 3-5 April
Show size: 6,000 sq m
Number of visitors: 5,000
Organiser: The Style Group
Main stage: 375 sq m
Fashion stage build and production: Big Chief Productions
Health and safety: Premises Management Services
Celebrity bookers: Celebrity Management
DJ bar: 289 sq m
Show sponsors: Cosmo Girl, Clinique, Kiss 100, Pucca, Polaroid,
mykindaplace.com, Models 1, Konami
COSMO GIRL FEATURE AREA
Stand design: Stanco Exhibitions
Size: 120 sq m
Furniture: Penny Banks & Co.