NEW YORK Anomaly has introduced its latest foray into product development with the introduction of a cosmetics line backed by an unlikely YouTube star.
By Lauren Luke is a line of cosmetics that is the signature line of Lauren Luke, a woman in Newcastle, Great Britain, who rose to YouTube fame through a series of how-to videos for applying makeup. The line is available at a brand Web site, and Anomaly is negotiating with retailers to get the cosmetics stocked in stores. Anomaly has also brokered a book deal for Luke and is negotiating with production companies about putting her on broadcast TV.
The makeup line is the latest in a series of projects from Anomaly to complement its more traditional fee-based agency business with its own projects where it retains ownership rights. By Lauren Luke is owned by Anomaly, Luke and manufacturer Zorbit. It has produced a line of women's shaving cream, Eos, and a T-shirt service called I.denti.tee.
The independent shop is not about to scrap such projects in the face of the economic downturn in order to devote its energies full time to client work, said Duncan Bird, an Anomaly partner.
"There's an element of risk, but there's an element of risk to crossing the road," he said. "I think there's more risk to flying around the world hoping to get a piece of business for 50 percent less fee and 100 percent more work."
The By Lauren Luke-Anomaly connection happened by accident. Bird came across her videos, done under the YouTube name Panacea81, while researching YouTube for a client in the beauty industry. A plain-looking woman from the north of England, she seemed the antithesis of the pre-packaged models and stars that dominate the industry. Bird noticed, however, that Luke's videos, shot from her bedroom, were incredibly popular.
"What's she's done is just connected with people in an amazing way without the use of conventional media," he said. "She's done it bedroom to bedroom."
Anomaly set to work building a brand around Luke. It is engaged in a similar venture with celebrity chef Eric Ripert. Unlike Ripert, Luke is not an accomplished chef: she's a single mother in her late 20s whose cachet derives entirely from the fan base she has built up online with her makeup tutorials. Her YouTube channel is now the most popular in the United Kingdom. About half her viewers come from North America, which led Anomaly to craft a strategy of launching her product line both here and in Europe.
"People rightly are becoming more cynical of brands and question the prices they charge," said Bird.
Next up for By Lauren Luke: a book due out in October that will cover her life, cosmetic tips and personality. Anomaly negotiated the publishing deal with Hodder & Stoughton and is plotting an online extension of the book. It brought in Dare to build the Luke Web site, which features her YouTube videos, product information and links to her various social networking accounts. One area Anomaly has steered clear of: the content and look of Luke's videos, Bird said.
"That's her thing," she said. "That's not for us at all. I want us to completely stay out of it."
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