"What is this? A center for ants?" No, it's a new brand activation from Kiehl's. The Derek Zoolander Center for People Who Don't Age Good, opening in New York's West Village today, is the latest in a slew of promotional efforts for Zoolander 2, which hits theaters on Thursday.
The center, a not-so-subtle nod to the first film's Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good, "allowed us the opportunity to marry our expertise, creative spirit and a true pop culture reference," said Chris Salgardo, president of Kiehl's U.S.
Visitors to the center, created by Night Agency, are guided by male models through experiences designed to reverse the effects of aging: getting misted with Kiehl's anti-aging serum, getting a tutorial on the perfect pants-to-nipple ratio and donning tiny shoes on their fingers and strutting them down a "finger runway" dedicated to the memory of J.P. Prewitt, legendary hand model and "finger jockey," played by David Duchovny in the first Zoolander film, which starred Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as dim-witted male models Derek Zoolander and Hansel. The experience concludes, naturally, with a selfie station where visitors can pose with the models and practice their best Blue Steel.
For Kiehl's, which hasn't engaged in traditional paid media in its 165-year-history, the effort is a way to engage fans via social content tied to the experience, said Evan Slater, partner and executive creative director at Night Agency. "The intent is to create something people will talk about and use the concept to build content around it," he said. "This one, as odd as it seemed, felt like a perfect relationship, especially since the film is about Derek's struggle with aging."
LeeAnne Stables, president of worldwide marketing partnerships and licensing at Paramount, which produced the film, said, "It's a perfect brand to fit the theme. They got the joke." Stables would not reveal whether Kiehl's products will appear in the movie, but Slater said they were provided for the movie shoot.
Other campaigns for Zoolander 2 include a spot for Fiat, which debuted during the Golden Globes; a limited edition Blue Steel Ciroc vodka in Europe; and a Zoolander Instagram takeover with Barbie. Stiller and Wilson also appeared in character as Derek and Hansel at Valentino's fashion show this fall and on SNL's Weekend Update on Saturday where they referred to presidential candidate Donald Trump's "look" as "orange mocha crapaccino."