How Are Media’s BODfest Smashed It By Leading The Charge On #SelfLove

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Like many great creative ideas, Are Media’s successful BODfest event was born from an insight. 

Research around women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies, and their desire for media to better represent diversity, sparked the concept of an innovative, brand-led experience that would directly connect advertisers and consumers, across a platform of self-love and inclusion.  

That idea became BODfest: a sold-out, mini-festival of body neutrality, which attracted more than 900 people in-person and online, and reached millions across Are Media’s digital and social media footprint. 

For BODfest’s sponsors, including OGX, Maybelline, La Roche Posay, Grey Goose and White Glo, the event delivered significant brand awareness, while enabling the advertisers to reach their target market, on-the-ground, in a meaningful way. 

For Are Media, BODfest heralded a new era for the business, taking the content company beyond its traditional magazine pages and websites, into the bespoke event space at scale. BODfest’s success showcased Are Media’s ability to not only lean into what really matters to its audience, but provide a safe, positive space to further conversations. Additionally, it demonstrated the business’ capacity to unite brands to achieve real outcomes.

But how exactly do media companies find out what their audience is passionate about? How do you uncover what’s getting them excited? What they’re talking about with their girlfriends, their colleagues, their partners? 

In this case, knowledge was power. The answer lay in research, deep-diving into how women felt about their bodies, and how they thought women as a collective were being portrayed by their favourite brands and publications. 

In 2021, Are Media conducted exclusive market research, which revealed a startling eight in 10 Australian women felt dissatisfied with their bodies, and more than six in 10 said it was important for beauty and fashion brands to represent different body shapes, ethnicities, sexualities and those with disabilities. 

The statistics came as the Australian fashion industry rode the wave of a burgeoning inclusivity movement, with women calling for diversity on everything from runways to cover shoots. Are Media leant into the change, offering up diverse content across its social media channels, highlighting conversations with experts on topics like self-love and inclusivity, and testing covers featuring women of all different sizes, shapes and backgrounds. 

But with growing calls for organisations like Are Media to lead the way in championing the self-love movement, the media company decided to go a step further, with the creation of BODfest: a one-day, in-person and online event, designed to shift the conversation to celebrate body neutrality. 

Held at Sydney’s Paddington Hall on 8 October 2022, the event, delivered in partnership with production partner RSPM, featured a panel of guest speakers including supermodel Emily Ratajkowski, American curve queen Remi Bader, and mental health advocate Brooke Blurton. 

The event was enhanced by uniting brands across beauty, fashion, lifestyle and entertainment to reach participants with unique activations that reflected BODfest’s overall #selflove vibe. Sponsors including OGX, Maybelline, La Roche Posay, Grey Goose, Lakanto and White Glo hosted creative customer experiences, from skin check stations to pop-up bars, designed to connect directly with consumers, while also boosting brand awareness. 

Are Media also partnered with radio and podcast network Nova for the BodPod takeover, a first for the network, which was a win for both organisations. 

BODfest was a resounding success, with more than 900 people attending in-person and via streaming, and millions reached across Are Media’s digital and social media platforms. 

The event cleverly harnessed Are Media’s significant social media footprint (one of the biggest of any publisher in the world per capita) to amplify its offering for sponsors, reaching more than five million people through more than 150 pieces of organic social content across Instagram, Facebook and TikTok on the event day-alone. Broadcast media reached an additional 4.4 million users, while PR reached nearly five million, notching up an earned media value of $1.1 million. 

Most importantly, the festival strongly resonated with attendees, with two in three saying they would likely return. 

Are Media’s commercial director, Andrew Cook, said BODfest demonstrated the content company’s ability to deliver highly successful, insight-led marketing initiatives for its brands:

“Events like these bring our clients and brands to life. They provide a unique experience for all attendees, while also raising awareness and delivering incredible customer insights and data for advertisers.” 

BODfest also cemented Are Media’s commitment to providing a space for agenda-setting conversations around inclusivity and representation, particularly for marginalised groups including LGBTIQA+, Aboriginal people and those with disabilities.  

The event is a solid example of how media organisations can leverage key audience insights to create an industry-leading experience that reaches audiences at a critical time in history. And with the return of large-scale events post-pandemic, now is the time for agencies to find out what really matters to their audience, and provide an opportunity for them to celebrate, engage and connect, in-person. Additionally, BODfest demonstrated the effectiveness of integrating clients into the fabric of the event, making them part of the overall experience and enabling them to connect with consumers in an authentic way. 

Maybelline’s head of digital and communications, Alana Pozzebon, said: “This event enabled us to create a safe, inclusive, and positive space to engage our key youth mental health brand ambassadors and raise awareness of our NGO partner, Reachout, and their resources. We saw success beyond our reach objectives, due to the livestreaming and digital amplification across social, reaching more than seven million users.” 

La Roche-Posay’s brand manager, Priya Bhatti, said BODfest allowed the brand to engage with consumers on the importance of sun safety – with tangible results. 

Bhatti commented: “We used BODfest as an opportunity to remind guests of the importance of skin health and more seriously, the high prevalence of skin cancer in Australia. With 2 in 3 Aussies affected by skin cancer by age 70 and 2500 people losing their lives to skin cancer each year, early detection through skin checks is essential.

“In partnership with Skin Check Champions, we were able to provide 23 skin checks at the event and found six suspicious lesions. More than 3000 Anthelios SPF50+ sunscreen samples were also distributed. BODfest was a movement and a celebration of self-care – and maintaining good skin health is a key part of that.”

But BODfest’s message of self-love has extended well beyond the life of the event itself. Since launching the initiative, the inclusivity campaign has become a critical part of the Are Media stable. The media company has developed more than 50 pieces of content on diversity, inclusivity and body neutrality, while also committing to making the topic a permanent part of its content mix. 

Fast forward to 2023 and the overarching campaign has now reached nearly 10 million users; a win for #selflove.

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