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CW Taps Cover Girl to Lend ‘Riverdale’ Characters New Accents

Variety logo Variety 2/2/2017 Brian Steinberg
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The modern “Riverdale” as seen on CW is filled with illicit romance, intrigue – and, as it turns out, a specific brand of makeup.

Cover Girl, the cosmetics unit of Coty Inc., has struck a season-long deal with the CW that gives its lipstick, mascara and other beauty supplies a heightened presence in the new drama, a modern and sometimes shocking update of the time-worn Archie comics.  Viewers who tune in tonight will notice a brief announcement at the start of the show underscoring Cover Girl’s affiliation with the show, and, later on, a 45-second vignette revealing how Cover Girl products help actress Madelaine Petsch transform herself into the character Cheryl Blossom.

The advertising alliance shows the CW pushing to work more closely with sponsors seeking a female audience. When the network launched in 2006, it was seen as a haven for Madison Avenue residents eager to reach young women, thanks to programs like “Gossip Girl” and “90210.” Now, with a growing emphasis on super-hero dramas like “Arrow:” and “Flash,” one might think the network attracts more testosterone.

“Riverdale” offered an opportunity to reach out to sponsors seeking female consumers, said Barbra Robin, the network’s senior vice president of integrated marketing, in an interview. “Riverdale,” she said, “really opens up the tent for those advertisers to come back in again.”

As part of the deal, Cover Girl products will be available on set for use, and viewers each week will see a vignette showing one of the show’s actresses transforming into a “Riverdale” character with time-lapse photography. Look for video stories featuring Lili Reinhardt, who plays Betty Cooper, and Ashleigh Murray, who plays Josie McCoy. The Cover Girl promotions are meant to appear no matter whether the program is seen on the regular old TV set or on a streaming service like Apple’s, said Robin. Also on tap: social-media influencers will recreate the female leads’ makeup in a series of videos on how to get the “Riverdale “looks.

Each character will be linked to a particular Cover Girl product, said Amanda Knappman, marketing director for Cover Girl US. Cheryl Blossom, who boasts strong red in her lips, will use Outlast Color & Gloss, while “girl next door” Betty Cooper will use Clean Matte foundation, which is a “simple step” for skin coverage. Veronica Lodge will be linked to Lashy, a mascara that provides a bold, sexy look, said Knappman.

The company hopes to reach millennial and “Generation Z consumers, she said, and hopes they’ll “be encouraged to try different techniques to play up their personalities, moods, features.”

Cover Girl hasn’t been this involved with a CW series since “America’s Next Top Model,” said CW’s Robin.

Behind the scenes, Publicis Groupe’s Zenith helped negotiate the deal. Brent Poer, a senior executive there, was instrumental in tying things together, said Robin. The media executive has a long history with the CW. When the network launched, he played a key role in devising “content wraps,” or commercial pods devoted to a single advertiser. More often than not, sponsors who chose to use the concept would run 90-seconds of programming devoted to hawking their wares. Procter & Gamble, which once owned Cover Girl, ran a newsmagazine type vignette showing women making use of products like Herbal Essences.

Some members of the cast might make their own cosmetics choices. In a recent interview with Teen Vogue, Petsch suggested she might rely on her own selections to create Cheryl Blossom’s look.

The CW is hopeful the show can snare other advertisers seeking young female consumers. “My end game is to tell more stories and create more content around the show with partners,” said Robin.

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