Q & A

Fingerprint's Jessica Meisels on Beach House Pop-ups After Malibu Outrage

By Shilpa Gopinath July 25, 2008, 2:09 PM EDT

Fingerprint Communications' Jessica Meisels

Photo: WireImage

Now that summer is in full swing, sponsored pop-up beach houses have returned to Malibu, even after buzz that new legislation would nix the concept for good. For the third year in a row, Fingerprint Communications is overseeing such a house, this year known as Project Beach House. Fingerprint owner Jessica Meisels talked to us about upcoming events, Malibu ordinances, and other house setups in town.

How is Project Beach House different from other beach houses?
We’re not a gifting house. You don’t come here and leave with tons of swag. You come here, you experience the brands, and leave with the knowledge of a new product. Yes, you may leave with some stuff, but our objective is to integrate the product into people’s lives, like what we did with [last year's] Polaroid—the whole idea was that Polaroid was going digital—so people didn’t walk out of that house with televisions, they walked out with the knowledge that Polaroid now does television. We’re more about educating our consumers rather than giving a bunch of free stuff away. I think that the other houses are more about gifting. That brings a different audience than what we bring.

How did you find the property?
The house is a Frank Lloyd Wright house. The house is rented; it’s a six-week program. It’s a four-acre estate in Malibu, in one of the prime locations, with six bedrooms, a private tennis court, pool, private beach, and helicopter landing pad. We have moved the location [from the previous year] to create a safer atmosphere in Malibu for everybody—the neighbors, the celebrities. Due to the fact that we took a four-acre estate, the paparazzi can’t really get to us. Once people are in our property, it’s a very safe environment.

How do you navigate legislation?

Malibu publicly announced an order that all properties that have over 100 people must get a permit—which has always been in existence. It was something that was very much publicized last year. We are abiding by all Malibu laws; we have gotten permits for every event and we’ve had city monitors on property. I think the city knows that we’re not an out-of-control party house. We are an upscale, high-end property. Again, moving to a property in which we don’t have public nuisances really helped.

Why call it Project Beach House this year?
This time the program is called Project Beach House, due to the fact that we took branding off of the house. We wanted more general concepts rather than having one brand associated with it. The whole idea is that it’s a lifestyle place for brands to showcase everything from electronics to liquor brands to water brands to clothing brands—everything across the board. Keeping it even with no title sponsor makes it more appealing to sponsors.

How do you choose and integrate brands at events?
Either they are clients of Fingerprint, or they make sense to bring into an event, or they are part of our program for the summer. It’s very minimal, not overly branded. During events, we have activities going on that are fun for the crowd there. Like for the Lia Sophia event, it was mostly a women’s crowd, so Garnier Nutritioniste did facials and hand massages; Ghd Hair [had services] like blow-drying. We have a doggie park set up from Hilton Hotel Pet because people bring dogs to the beach. We send the Cadillac Escalade to pick up some of our V.I.P.s.

Everything is very organic. You’re not going to find anything on property that does not make sense here. So whether you are drinking a Snapple Antioxidant Water or having a Ciroc and cranberry or scrubs in the bathrooms by Carol’s Daughter, it’s an organic environment.

What are some of the big events you have worked on or are working on?
LnA, our Fourth of July party, was a huge success. That was the first [event] that we had. We’ve done a Lia Sophia clam bake, which is our annual event that we’ve done three years in a row. The catering company served clam sandwiches, lobsters, and crab cakes. This weekend, we’re doing the 40th anniversary of the Big Mac for McDonald's. We have DJ AM spinning and Ne-Yo hosting.

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