Former NBCU Exec Lauren Zalaznick Discusses Her Role With Refinery29

Lifestyle publisher hopes to bolster growth through entertainment vertical

Millennial fashion, beauty and lifestyle website Refinery29 announced today that Lauren Zalaznick will be joining the company as a strategic adviser. The New York-based company said that the former NBCU evp will work with the executive team to help form future objectives, including monetization, programming strategy and partnerships, as well as to help build out its entertainment vertical.

Zalaznick is best known for relaunching the Bravo network. During her 12-year tenure with NBCU, she also oversaw operations at the Oxygen and Style networks, the Fandango and Daily Candy websites, and additional digital and Hispanic initiatives. 

Co-CEO Justin Stefano said in a statement that Zalaznick's hire was part of the plan to bolster Refinery29's entertainment and digital staffing using the $20 million in Series C funding it raised last October. Co-CEO Philippe von Borries added that he hopes Zalaznick's experience in growing media and entertainment companies will help Refinery29 expand into international territories.

Zalaznick spoke to Adweek about what she hopes she can bring to her new appointment.

What can you bring from your experience at NBCU to Refinery 29?

Refinery 29 is a jewel. The editorial is attuned to the audience's needs and curiosities; the visuals are clean and appealing; the technology and product is joyful and forward looking. 

I'm a longtime operator with proven strategies to drive growth at a wide variety of businesses, no matter what the sector. From cable TV, to Hispanic media, to digital businesses like Fandango—the hallmarks of my career are defining brands through content, marketing, and research crossed with identifying revenue opportunity and, now, technology. That should be the perfect fit to enhance Justin, Philippe, and the leadership team's innate and already-proven track record.

Do you see Refinery 29 moving away from fashion and lifestyle and more toward entertainment?

Refinery 29 has a clear fix on their customer. It is, at its core, essentially a fashion, style, and beauty brand that wraps knowledge and information about those sectors in a "lifestyle" package. There's a ton of "runway" on which to build an even keener editorial voice and further depth and expertise in those sectors. Refinery29 can continue to scale audience and revenue growth at its rapid pace, and it won't have to come at the expense of the clear brand vision that has brought it this far.

Will we see more original web programming?

Original content is the key to consumer satisfaction. With it comes the authenticity of voice and knowledge that consumers—and advertisers—respond to. The product roadmap will include delightful features that spur editorial creativity and breadth, and are the gateway to growth at any digital business. Beauty, fashion and style are the definition of visual opportunity—from the right take on "how to" to the "who, what, where, and why" of those marketplaces, there's nothing but user and advertiser upside.