Refinery29 Expands 29Rooms Events to San Francisco, Chicago

The experiential event series is one area of growth for the brand

Refinery29 unveiled a number of new programs at its NewFront presentation today at New York's Town Hall. Getty Images
Headshot of Sara Jerde

There was great intent by Refinery29 about where they chose to hold their 2018 NewFront presentation for advertisers today.

At Manhattan’s historic Town Hall, founded by a group of suffragists in 1921, the very 21st century brand reiterated its commitment to providing the best content and products for their audience: “her.”

The digital publisher’s biggest news was about the expansion of its experiential events to San Francisco and Chicago. The event, 29Rooms, has already taken place in New York City and Los Angeles, for which the publisher sold 45,000 tickets. Now, with a partnership with Facebook Anthology, 29Rooms will be livestreamed.

“Everything that we do from a content and business strategy perspective is always grounded in the consumer, who she wants, what she wants, what she craves. They value experiences over things,” Sarah Personette, Refinery29’s Chief Operating Officer, told Adweek.

The company will also offer a new dance party called, “Beauty & The Beats,” in which attendees will be put on a 360-degree dance floor with a live, virtually-created soundtrack.

Executives also unveiled a new streaming network called Channel29 that will include live and on-demand lifestyle content. It will be released later this year.

The channel will live on the publisher’s website and social platforms and will eventually launch on connected devices, Personette said.

Refinery29 executives said they’ve seen a 720 percent increase in watch time for videos on YouTube this year and a 132 percent rise in audience engagement on Instagram.

The publisher is also undergoing a complete website redesign to focus on “consumer action,” including discover, watch and design, Personette said.

From a user perspective, there will be faster load times and better navigation, said Chief Content Officer Amy Emmerich.

The publisher announced new programming, including a partnership with race, gender and culture writer Michaela Angela Davis for a documentary series called America. Another series, The Beautiful, explores the experience of black women who are redefining American culture, politics and style. Also coming soon: a six-part documentary series called Pride, showing the fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States.

Refinery29 has also firmed up big brand partnerships with Google’s VR platform Daydream, Kate Spade for an Instagram short film series, and CBS News for a project ahead of this year’s midterm elections.

If that’s not all, the brand is pushing into global markets including France and Canada.

But it all came back to Town Hall, and its founders, that group of suffragists, nearly 100 years ago.

“There is no better stage to share this vision,” said Personette during her presentation today. “When women thrive, we all rise.”

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.
Publish date: May 2, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT