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Star Power

When Sandra Alexander, a marketing rep for cosmetic firm darci by Di Caprio, sent out a press release announcing the firm's new makeup brush cleaner in September 2011, she never dreamed that the product would find itself in the Oscar gift bags of Hollywood's elite at last year's Oscar ceremony.

Upon reading the press release, a representative from an agency that specializes in the entertainment industry reached out to Darci Henry and Lisa Di Caprio, to see if they would be interested in contributing their new brush cleaner to the gift bags for Oscar nominees in the top five categories of the 2012 Oscars.

At first the pair ignored the call, but after receiving a second call telling them their product would be great for the celebrity swag bag, they decided to get involved. "Make it as unique as you can," was the only request the agency made. The women brainstormed about how best to build around this opportunity, and ultimately won raves and press coverage, including mentions in Lucky magazine and Philadelphia Business Journal for the cleverly designed gift packaging, which centered on the founders' mission statement, "The Beauty of Believing in Yourself." Henry and Di Caprio, divorced mothers who overcame personal adversity, became best friends and started darci by Di Caprio to support themselves, become independent and inspire others to do the same.

The women chose boxes that looked like hollowed-out books bearing the tagline, "Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover." The box contained the brand's signature brush cleaner, with limited-edition Kabuki brushes (no animal hair was used and the product was cruelty free-certified by PETA) as well as a towel with the brand's logo to dry off the brushes.

A card insert read,  "You can't summarize your career with one performance, define a character with a single facial expression or take one look at someone and understand who they are or how far they've come. On the surface, your makeup brushes may seem clean. But look a little closer and you may find a different story." The gift box also contained a mini movie script and a short video on a USB drive telling the story behind the brand.

Appearances on talk shows and morning shows to discuss the Oscar gift bags reached almost 3 million viewers. The press that darci by Di Caprio received resulted in increased traffic in their PA-based store, plus the addition of four new wholesale accounts, including Beauty Cirque, New Beauty at Fred Segal, and two major online retailers, www.beautysak.com and www.dermstore.com.

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