You may have spotted him in Times Square, soliciting compliments from bewildered tourists. Perhaps you saw him at Coachella, making some celebrities more uncomfortable than others. If you’re one of Cosmopolitan‘s 15 million social followers, chances are your smartphone has increasingly played host to his adventures from coast-to-coast.
His name is Glitter Fantasy, and he’s Cosmo‘s new unicorn correspondent — or perhaps unicorn-correspondent, since the brand’s newest recurring video series bills him as a literal incarnation of the mythical creature.
Portrayed by professional dancer Jake DuPree, Glitter Fantasy’s intentions aren’t always clear. At times, he plays the role of a shimmery Jon Taffer, attempting to “rescue” an L.A. café. (“Today we’re visiting some shitbox in Los Angeles that really needs my help.”) Other times, he’s more of a goodwill ambassador, spreading “dancing, prancing, and sparkle” over unsuspecting passersby.
In any event, Cosmo appears to be putting the full strength of its seven-member video team behind the series, and Folio: needed to know more. So we chatted with Cosmopolitan.com editor Amy Odell about how she’s capitalizing on America’s “peak unicorn” moment, and more on Cosmo‘s growing video presence.
Folio: How did you first become aware of Jake a.k.a. Glitter Fantasy the Unicorn and why was he right for Cosmo?
Amy Odell: We had the idea to hire a unicorn correspondent when we noticed that unicorn products – food, beauty products, clothing, accessories, etc. – were becoming popular with our audience. This was well in advance of Starbucks launching their Unicorn Frappuccino, which was probably this country’s “peak unicorn” moment.
I wanted an expert to report on unicorn trends, which clearly meant we’d have to hire an actual unicorn. Jason Ikeler, Cosmopolitan.com’s lead video producer, knew Jake, who is a professional dancer, and thought he’d be perfect for the job. He sent us a test video he shot on his phone, in which he talked at length about unicorns and unicorn culture. It was immediately clear that he’d be a perfect fit.
Folio: Who came up with the “Glitter Fantasy” persona?
Odell: Cosmopolitan’s Snapchat Discover channel featured a “Unicorn Name Generator,” which led to lots of lively discussion among Hearst staff — executives included — over our respective unicorn names. My husband, however, had the best unicorn name, which was Glitter Fantasy.
Cosmopolitan.com contributor Laura Beck is the lead writer on the series. Jason and I offer input on the scripts as well. And when Jake gets to set, a lot of what we shoot is improvised under Jason’s direction. I have to say, Jake really brought the character to life — we always knew Glitter Fantasy would be sassy, but Jake took it to the next level. Jake also does his own makeup and styling. The makeup alone takes two hours!
Folio: What are some of the ways you decide where to send him?
Odell: It’s pretty simple – we send him to whatever location will be funniest. Recently, he visited a Mexican restaurant in New York to make a unicorn taco (the video is coming out soon) and Wall Street to talk about the economy and becoming someone’s second wife.
Folio: What’s the response been like from your audience?
Odell: The response has been enormous and incredibly positive. We run the videos across all of our platforms — the website, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube — and Glitter Fantasy performs incredibly well on all of them. Viewers completely get the joke and just think the character is hilarious. We’ve also had brands reach out to us to discuss sponsorships.
Folio: How would you describe Cosmo‘s overall video strategy?
Odell: Cosmopolitan.com is focusing now on long-form series that transcend service. Service videos are incredibly popular on social media, and we’ll continue making tons of those because our audience loves them. But we’re taking what we’ve learned from those videos and applying those best practices to talent development and more involved storytelling.
Folio: What makes a video successful, from your perspective?
Odell: Of course, we want each of our videos to be viewed and shared by millions of people. But we’re increasingly focused on watch time. I think watch time is the most important metric to look at for videos right now. There are so many videos media consumers can watch at any given second, and a view is only a few seconds. But if people stick around to watch, that showcases engagement, which makes your brand more valuable.
Folio: Where would you like to send Glitter Fantasy next?
Odell: It’s probably a toss-up between the White House and Mitch McConnell’s office.