When Allure editor-in-chief Michelle Lee first got to the beauty glossy in November of last year, she knew she wanted Gigi Hadid on the cover. Of course, Hadid is one of the most in-demand models of the moment, which meant her first availability was December 2016. Naturally, Lee didn't mind the wait.
"I was coming up with my wish list of who I wanted to have on the cover, and I said to our bookings editor that I would love to have Gigi at any point — any point that she was free," she says. "To me, she epitomizes modern beauty, especially on set; she has this lightness and this energy about her that is totally infectious, and I don't think we've seen it in any other models right now."
As it turns out, having a cover star booked so far in advance ended up being a huge boon to both Lee and Allure. The publication was meeting with advertisers about the possibility of partnering on a unique augmented reality app for the magazine; Tommy Hilfiger — a brand with a long relationship with Allure, who just happened to have a collaboration with Hadid — was already slated to cover the magazine. Thanks to a fragrance deal with Hadid and Hilfiger, Estée Lauder came on board, as well. The stars aligned.
"We were able to have really interesting conversations with Tommy about how we could partner and bring this to life," says publisher Agnes Chapski. "They were already a partner of ours, so we had a really strong relationship with them and we felt we could do really interesting, innovative things because they were open to it."
The fruit of this partnership is "Allure Unbound," an app which launches alongside the December issue. Readers will be able to scan various pages throughout the magazine to get an interactive experience, whether it's taking a selfie alongside Hadid herself, shopping the collaboration or seeing behind-the-scenes video of the shoot. And because publishing brands are always looking for new ways to make their print content shareable, all of the features can be easily posted to the readers' social media channels.
Both the Estée Lauder and Tommy Hilfiger activations aim to give a richer experience than the standard static ad campaigns; to avoid any trickiness, there will be a clear separation of the branded and editorial content. Still, Allure Unbound better positions the magazine to court advertisers and reach readers on mobile, a major asset in today's challenged publishing environment.
"We know she's multi-screening while she's reading the magazine," says Chapski. "The ability to provide that to the consumer so that every time she gets an issue she's going to have a new discovery and a deeper level with her is just really exciting."
Lee, Chapski and the team are already brainstorming on ways to use the technology for future issues. With beauty, the possibilities are endless: Readers could get instant makeovers, "test" a recommended product or even swap the beauty look on the cover star. While the December issue may be a modest start, the Allure Unbound app will likely be a content focus in 2017.
"The key thing for me is that we're really just scratching the surface right now," Lee says. "We've talked about doing a truly shoppable issue, we can do truly 360-degree video, and it's really different from other things that are out there because the experience is very immediate and you can see inside the page, which is cool."
Homepage image: Getty Images