CoverGirl Taps Into the Influencer Scene with "Allure Incubator"

Millions of dedicated beauty and fashion fans have been following shows like America’s Next Top Model for years. As attention shifts to smaller screens, however, what’s next for the producers of programs like these? 

To get a glimpse into the future of beauty and fashion television, one need look no further than ANTM’s own former partner, CoverGirl. No longer promising contracts to Tyra Banks’ protegees, the brand is instead partnering with Allure to create a web series called “Allure Incubator.” The series, which debuted on Monday, is six episodes long and follows five aspiring beauty influencers as they undergo a bootcamp-style education and tests of mettle. Challengers must prove their makeup abilities, of course, but must also outperform their competitors in the business sector. Their capacity to market, negotiate, and close sales are carefully considered over the show’s run. The winner of the show becomes one of CoverGirl’s Influencer Ambassadors, as well as a first choice to showcase Allure’s editorial and branded content. 


The move to web-based content comes on the heels of CoverGirl’s brand relaunch, and signals a clear move on the part of CoverGirl to grow with the times.

Their choice to partner with influencers rather than classic models reflects cognizance that today’s beauty consumer gets most of their “inspo” online, through platforms like Youtube and Instagram. It also shows that the brand is up to date on what resonates with the latest generation of consumers-- authenticity. As CROWD. has covered in the past, millennial consumers prize relatability. Choosing to showcase “real” individuals over models in their newest show is an impressively relevant move on the part of the makeup brand. Brent Poer is the president of content at Zenith, the production agency that has partnered with CoverGirl on these shows since its first season of ANTM.

“There’s been a radical shift in the last five years, due to the rise of the influencer,” Poer explained. “There’s a whole other space to tap into now. You want endorsements from the influencers, or enthusiasts, who are engaged in the category and are loved by fans.”

In the past, Poer added, a new product or collection thrived off editorial credits. This is in line with the priorities of past consumer generations, whose buying choices were more heavily influenced by status symbols. An endorsement by a beautiful and talented Top Model was more than enough to draw customers in. “Allure Incubator”, on the other hand, allows “average” beauty lovers to reach social media fame, and showcases the millennial American Dream-- seeing one’s peers succeed. 



The concept of online video content production is alluring (if you will) to producers for a number of reasons.

For instance, shoot time is drastically reduced. “Top Model” was shot in a series of locations over several weeks, representing a significant time investment in travel as well as editing. An episode of “Allure Incubator”, however, can be shot in a single day. “They’re a lot faster for us to produce, from concept to production to distribution,” said Poer.

Episodes are also a lot shorter than TV’s classic 50 minutes, with a runtime of only 13 minutes apiece. From the drop in both length as well as production requirements, we can infer that there must be a pretty significant drop in production cost as well. “There are economies of scale,” Poer said.

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It’s clear that CoverGirl and Allure are taking their video to where their audience is-- online.

While “Top Model” belonged to The CW, and then to VH1, fans can find “Allure Incubator” on the youtube channels of both makeup brands. 

The shift away from traditional television allows for greater freedom in both content and timeline. With no network involved to enforce strict protocols, digital video production can act as a testing ground for projects. “A lot of times, people jump the gun and say, ‘This is a great idea; let’s take this to television,’ only to find out halfway through that it’s not the most robust concept in the world, and it’s too thin to stretch into a format that’s 44 minutes long,” said Poer. 

Viewers are less likely than ever to tune in to “appointment television” these days, thanks to the widespread availability of streaming services and downloadable content. Viewers also love a sizeable (but not too intimidating) backlog of available episodes to satisfy their binge watching desires. To that end, CoverGirl and Allure dropped all six episodes of “Allure Incubator” at once. Together, the mini series runs for just over an hour.

So far, the first and last episodes have the most views, at 61,848 and 54,358, respectively.



The decision to focus in on influencers is no accident. Social media is being used in ways it never has before, most notably in terms of advertising. Online, there are many ways to promote a show like “Allure Incubator”, and Covergirl and Allure plan to make use of them all. 

“To be a modern marketer, you need to leverage every potential voice and asset you have,” said Poer, noting that everyone involved in “Allure Incubator” received a social brief, detailing how and when they should promote the show online. Host Jasmine Sanders has 2.7 million followers, and the show’s judges include Allure’s editor-in-chief Michelle Lee (42,000), designer Rebecca Minkoff(798,000) and social media star Dulce Candy (1.1 million). The contestants this season also boasted a combined follower count of over 180k. 

“The field of beauty content creators is exploding with creativity, and we are continually exploring new ways for Allure to find and cultivate new talent,” said Michelle Lee, Allure Editor-In-Chief. “We conceived this program as an extension of our mission to explore beauty through new voices.”


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