How ‘Marie Claire’ is Transforming its Women’s Summit into a Multi-city Community Platform

“In what other world in your adulthood, in corporate life, at a summit, would you be given pajamas and be able to network with like-minded powerful people, but in an environment where the walls are completely taken down physically, metaphorically and emotionally.”

–Sharon Yi, SVP-Brand Solutions, Future plc

Four ways the brand evolved its annual Power Trip conference into the always-on Power Play platform

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A curated group of 100 women kicked off Marie Claire’s reimagined Power Play summit in L.A.

Since 2016, Marie Claire’s Power Trip summit has connected curated groups of leading businesswomen in New York and Los Angeles through an upscale, bicoastal conference. But following its 2021 acquisition by publishing company Future plc, and under the helm of its new editor-in-chief, Nikki Ogunnaike, the brand overhauled its tentpole event with a new name—Power Play—and a new strategy aimed at cultivating hyper-local communities of influential women across the country through a multi-touchpoint, always-on platform.

The Power Play platform officially launched March 18-19 with Marie Claire’s reimagined women’s summit at the Santa Monica Proper Hotel, where 100 local business leaders and up-and-coming entrepreneurs were immersed in the brand’s “New Ambition” event theme (CRONY handled). The summit, presented by Merrell, was designed as a respite for the cohort of hustlers, and offered a series of conversations; high-profile panels and speaker talent like Courteney Cox, Sophia Bush and Tina Knowles; a rooftop soiree; and purposeful activations and thought leadership sessions delivered by sponsors. Across the board, the brand built moments of surprise-and-delight into the agenda as a means of breaking down barriers to interpersonal connections.

“The participants were largely L.A.-based so that we could create a local, deep community and start creating city chapters. So this is the launch of a nationwide expansion that we’re taking this year,” says Sharon Yi, svp-brand solutions at Future. “We’re going deep into specific cities to create meaningful local communities, which we know that the world and America has been asking for, particularly since the pandemic. We need those in-person touchpoints. We need to create community with people that are around us. And this was our response to that.”

Power Play marks a pivotal shift in the publication’s event tactics, so we sat down with Yi for insights into the new strategy as Marie Claire U.S. approaches its 30th anniversary this fall.

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The Power Play summit’s New Ambition theme served as Marie Claire’s acknowledgement that modern women can’t be defined by which “box” they fit into—they can be both corporate executives and moms, for instance. And the event’s messaging was all about redefining what ambition and success look like.

“Ambition has always been reserved for the privileged,” says Yi. “So it was the perfect conversation to have with this group of women who obviously are very ambitious, but taking a step back and asking how do we redefine what ambition even looks like today… The power of Marie Claire is that we acknowledge that women are not just one thing. You are not just the business executive, you are not just the mom. You can be all of those things, but how that looks to you in terms of ambition and success could be different. Those were the nuances and definitions that we wanted to explore.”



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A high-profile speaker roster included the likes of Courteney Cox, Sophia Bush and Tina Knowles.

The summit featured panels and conversations around hard-hitting subjects like women’s bodily autonomy, how Gen Z leaders are reshaping the model for success, the evolving impact of women in sports and how “multi-hyphenates” have risen to the top through non-linear career paths. Each topic was designed to demonstrate the brand’s authority in the space.

“We were speaking with The Honey Pot and Perelel about bodily autonomy—obviously, that has been under threat the past year or so, and a really important conversation for Marie Claire to own and facilitate,” Yi says. “We also had philanthropist and actor Sophia Bush who spoke about, if you’re lucky enough to have the microphone, even if it’s just for a brief moment, that it’s your responsibility to take that opportunity and speak up and create the change that you want to see. One of my favorite panels was with our Gen Z activist Marley Dias… I think it’s just redefining, again, what ambition and success can look like at every age, in every sect.”



Marie Claire famously kept its Power Trip agenda a secret until attendees had checked in on-site, and even then, they were given few details until they arrived at each touchpoint. The publication kept the tradition alive at Power Play L.A. in its bid to implement surprise and delight throughout the event for a group of women who rarely have time to slow down.

Perhaps the most surprising and delightful experience of all was the adult slumber party the brand hosted at the end of the first evening. Yep, founders, executives, c-suiters, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists were all in their jammies (provided by supporting sponsor Aerie) just a few hours after meeting one another.

“In what other world in your adulthood, in corporate life, at a summit, would you be given pajamas and be able to network with like-minded powerful people, but in an environment where the walls are completely taken down physically, metaphorically and emotionally,” says Yi. “We had women crying at the slumber party connecting with each other, they were taking selfies, they were playing poker together, doing permanent bracelets together—this is a core memory that we cultivated for these grown women.”


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Sunglass Hut sponsored a private shopping experience and panel at its nearby retail location.



Power Play sponsors were selected based on their desire to support and inspire the businesswomen in attendance, whether it was by sponsoring a panel or producing an activation. In both scenarios, Marie Claire ensured that its brand partners were adding value to the overall attendee experience.

Among standouts were presenting partner Merrell, which sponsored an early-morning, interactive hike and scavenger hunt around the Pacific Palisades; Sunglass Hut, which brought Ogunnaike’s “Self Checkout” shoppable newsletter to life with a panel and private shopping experience guided by Marie Claire fashion editors hosted at one of the Hut’s retail stores; and a Women in Sports panel sponsored by Under Armour featuring brand ambassador and flag football champion Diana Flores. Other sponsor touchpoints included somatic healing, sound meditation and “office hours” with leadership coach Aimee Baxter.

“We felt very intentional about which brands we partnered with, both from a paneling and an experience perspective—that they were value-additive to the conversation to these women in the room,” says Yi.

As far as gauging the impact of the first Power Play summit, and subsequent Power Play events, Yi says the team is focused on the community aspect, and whether or not attendees forged connections that persisted beyond the walls of the experience.

“The KPI for us is this connection piece, this community piece. People are longing for that,” Yi says. “So do these relationships stick around? Do [attendees] continue to meet up again? How can we facilitate that? And we do have some things in the works on how we’re going to continue the conversation with each of our city chapters.”


More Scenes from Power Play L.A.:

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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