Here you'll find the things and events that inspire and shape the work of New York-based advertising copywriter Katja Bartholmess. A trend spotter, fashion friend, globetrotter and party host, she promises to entertain and delight. -- Tends to be opinionated, so read at your own peril.

Jun 11th, 2010

“A recent blog post tracker revealed that there are 126 million blogs on the Internet today and 84 percent of social networking sites are dominated by female members — a lot of opportunity to engage.” Virginia C. Drosos, president of global beauty of P&G Beauty & Grooming

If you ask me, this quote from WWD Beauty Summit should be taped to fridges and computer screens. And it should be the torch that lights the way to successfully marketing beauty right now and in the years to come. Because if a whopping 84% of social media networking sites are dominated by women., I'd say: let's market to them in a fun, engaging and, above all, two-sided way.

Yes, I'm very passionate about using the powers of social media to connect with consumers, engage them in meaningful conversations and listen to -- as well as learn from -- what they have to say.

Right now, these are brands that "get social right":

In the mass segment I'm tipping my hat to Yes to Inc. and in the prestige section I feel Bobbi Brown is doing a great job with their Pretty Powerful campaign.

Done right, social media allows up and coming beauty brands to mobilze as many consumers as a well-established brand. For a fraction of the resources of traditional marketing. -- Don't be left behind!

If you want to talk to me about ideas and strategies, please go right ahead. I'd be delighted. -->

Mar 19th, 2010

"Who was number 1? Oprah?" asked Mindy Grossman's daughter when she heard that her mother was voted one of the world's 100 most powerful women by Forbes Magazine.

Apparently, it's easier to impress one of the world's leading business publications than it is your own children. But Mindy Grosmann, CEO of HSN, the 24 hour Home Shopping Network, has a great sense of humor. At this week's Women in Beauty event, organized by Cosmetic Executive Women, she talked about developing the beauty segment at HSN.

When Mindy left Nike to join HSN in 2006, the shopping network was merely a selling vehicle. It was her mission to turn it into an experiential vehicle that sells.

Beauty is a great business driver as it's telegenic and can be brought to life on TV and the other outlets that HSN uses (they stream not only for television but online and on mobile devices). "We wanted to market beauty in the most inspirational way." Mindy says. And it made sense to grow that segment as 80% of the customers are women. When she was thinking about strategically growing beauty, it was about ownership of an idea, not just following someone else's lead. She aksed herself: "What could we really own?"

And the answer was --> Fragrance.

She was met with skepticism. People wanted to know how to "show" a scent. "But it's not about the smell," Mindy argued. "Let's just assume it smells nice." And she set about to develop ideas on how to create a world and an experience around a fragrance. Like VH 1's "Behind the Music," she wanted to grant the viewers access to the world behind the fragrance. To create a fantasy world around the scent.

It works. Sean John's new perfume, for instance, sold out within 45 minutes.

A key to selling products, she says, is getting people excited. "People are so overwhelmed and so distracted. The products that get people excited and create a reason, are the ones that manage to cut through the clutter."

Despite their continued growth -- HSN just had their most profitable quarter in its 32 years of existence -- the economy did affect the shopping network.

"We did see changed shopping behavior," she said, "The spending ceiling came down as people have less resources for disretionary spending." But the beauty segment remained strong. After all: "Beauty is the most affordable luxury."

It was Mindy Grossman's approach to provide women with a destination, an escape. "We wanted to continue to be there for her -- even if she can't afford to shop with us right now. HSN is the place where she feels right, where her favorite brands are and where she'll only hear great news."

The first audience member to pose a question exclaimed "You are fabulous" and everyone agreed, clapping. I found her very engaging -- not to mention wildly persuasive. I had downloaded the HSN iPhone App before she was even done talking. So I hope you've enjoyed the read...

Mar 19th, 2010

Just received a bunch of branded magazines from German fashion retailer SOCCX in the mail.

They teamed up with me and I developed the voice and write the articles. Great fun and a great mixture of advertising, branding and editorial.

I hear the customers are snatching up the issues like there's no tomorrow -- and I look forward to working on the next one!

Mar 19th, 2010

You shower like we do, you groom like we do, you use deodorant and fragrance like we do (well, you use a little more). But dear men, I do not understand why all your cleaning and grooming products have to look like they contain something inflammable or even explosive.

Would you really stop showering if your shower gel stopped resembling a container of heavy duty machine oil, fit for a Formula One race car?

I really wonder ...

Jan 29th, 2010

"I've never been listened to by so many women before." Fabrizio Freda, CEO at Estee Lauder since 2008, is a charming man. And one who knows how to steer a company to success even in challenging times. No wonder the Newsmaker Forum, organized by Cosmetic Executive Women, was sold out and buzzing with the high-heeled leaders and aspiring executives of the beauty industry.

Fabrizio Freda talked about change, innovation, changed consumer behavior, the internet -- and frogs. He's eloquent and full of fantastic insight. My pen never got to to rest and I'd like to share my favorite quotes with you.

Fabrizio Freda about change:

"Challenging the status quo is the most important thing a leader can do."

"Look reality in the eye. Don't change just for change's sake and know what you shouldn't change but understand that some changes will be disruptive."

For those who don't believe that disruptive change can be a really good thing, Freda had a little example:

"If you -- and I don't advise that you actually try it -- throw a frog into boiling water, he will jump right out of the pot to save its life. But if you put a frog into water and bring it slowly to a boil, it'll only notice when it's too late for it to save its life."

"Create a new vision, define the key elements of change -- and make it understood by the entire organization. Alignment throughout the organization is critical. The same priorities have to apply to everyone. And understand that 'being aligned' doesn't mean that you get rid of the diversity and differentiation within your organization."

"I recommend a 'reverse engineering' approach. Where do you want to be in 5 years? What has to happen to get you there? -- Implement those changes."

"The recession was a great force to accellerate the changes that were due anyway."

Fabrizio Freda on innovation:

"If you want to be innovative in the beauty market, you have to look at your most demanding consumer in every category."

"If you want to invent the best brightening cream, look to the Japanese women. If you want to invent the best mascara, look to the French women. -- Satisfy the most demanding consumers and bring the results to the whole world."

Fabrizio Freda on changing shopping behavior:

"The 'new normal' is for our consumers to be more sensitive to craftsmanship and experience. She buys less for status and judges more harshly. But she has also understood the meaning of 'value' -- and that's not about cheap product."

"I hope she -- the consumer -- will continue to go forward and not go back to her old shopping patterns."

"The prestige brands offer a moment of service to the consumer. You can have a learning experience about new trends, the best way to use a product. You can indulge and treat yourself to a moment for yourself. -- For instance, 50% of Estee Lauder's customers come to Lauder to replenish. They want to be pampered and sprayed. -- We have to ask: What does that mean to us?"

"The consumer ist ready for this message: It is about the experience."

Fabrizio Freda about the internet:

"Digital is changing the world of communication. Advertising has become a two way street with the consumer in control."

"The new advertising is closer to 'storytelling.' The story travels across the world, creates conversations."


I hope some of the quotes resonated with you. I know that I was thoroughly inspired -- and glad that I was able to tell Fabrizio Freda in person.

Let me know if you have any questions. (Like, what was in CEW's legendary goodie bags?)