Techno Luxury & The “Reality Check” on Branded Social Media

29 11 2009

While I did get to check out the whopping 10 minutes of this week’s Milan Global Fashion Summit that was dedicated to technology, I was really bummed out not to be able to to to the International Herald Tribune’s Techno Luxury conference held in Berlin last week (the Twitter archive can be found here). It was really a trilogy of disappointments, because the conference encompassed 3 of my favorites: the Luxury+Technology factor (which is a given- being surrounded by fellow geeks and listening to Suzy Menkes and other experts talking about my favorite subject for 2 days is like having died and gone to Heaven); the involvement of my favorite Women’s Wear Daily editor, Melissa Drier, who also happens to have significantly influenced the direction of my career; and Berlin, a city I love for many reasons, including the fact that it so brilliantly embraces its history while barreling into the future.

So I’m both green with envy and thrilled to read the tidbits of info that are coming out of this conference, and am desperately waiting for more details (and video feed, anyone?!).

On Monday, Ms Drier posted an article on the conference in WWD, but for those of you without access, I’ll include some highlights here:

Seen as both an opportunity and a threat, technology is now an unavoidable factor to be reckoned with in the luxury market. And whether it’s virtual retailing, social networking or any manner of digital or cyberspace advance, luxury brands no longer have the option of sidestepping technology.

Amen to that! Of course, the day after this piece was written, many of the traditional industry titans were gathered in Milan to ask themselves the fleeting question of whether the internet has a place in luxury. Let’s hope they were all in Berlin last week, and that‘s why the topic barely made a blip on the Milanese radar.

Mirroring my experience with industry leaders here in Italy, both through work and my experience back in business school when I interviewed dozens of CEOs and Marketing Managers of brands ranging from fashion to fine wine and motorcycles to understand their insight into the future of the luxury market, in the WWD article, Suzy Menkes had the following to say:

“The luxury market hasn’t embraced early enough or completely enough the opportunities of new technology,” IHT fashion editor Suzy Menkes told WWD shortly before the conference kicked off. This year’s technology focus was spurred, in part, by her experience of chief executive officers’ discomfort when queried about a company’s online activities. “All I’d get is a grimace, compared to the tremendous enthusiasm to how they embrace a new store,” she said.

I am very familiar with that grimace, but I personally think that a lot of the problem has to do with the fact that a great deal of the luxury-industry managers aren’t familiar with how the web can help them. With all due respect to Mme. Menkes, I believe it’s actually the luxury industry and not the luxury market – the customers are already there – which has failed to fully embrace the opportunities of new technology. Industry leaders don’t seem to view the internet as an ideal place to build a branded environment, tell your story, build a community and engage in cutting-edge customer service, but rather a murky danger-zone.

In an industry where simply knowing your way around Excel is considered a form of wizardry, it’s hardly surprising that the industry leaders might be intimidated by a technology they don’t understand, both online and off. There is definitely one industry leader out there who gets it- Burberry’s Christopher Bailey is revolutionizing the brand through technology in both marketing and internal processes, building a great digital brand presence with the added benefit of a sustainable impact.

“Technology shouldn’t be scary,” stated Burberry chief creative officer Christopher Bailey. Together with CEO Angela Ahrendts, Bailey has powered Burberry into the virtual and digital forefront both online and in-house via the use of blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Burberry TV, its own social networking site, consumer e-brochures, digital look books, digital and e-commerce links to fashion shows, digital design tools, global videoconferencing, motion sensor lights, a monitor and iPod on every desk, Wi-Fi, Skype, a digital photo studio that can get images online in two hours and so on…

And the payback? Connectivity with ateliers and offices has reduced company air travel by 17 percent, digital look books have saved 32 tons of paper, online sales are growing rapidly and Burberry’s broad online presence provides the brand “with a much broader insight into the consumer and you can build more of a story,” Bailey said.

Sustainability, high ROI and social media brilliance… (I’m in love.)

And, speaking of consumer-insight and the building of the brand story, Ms Dryer goes on to introduce FASHIONAIR, a new multimedia fashion social network/e-commerce aggregator (still in the Beta phase) which seems to have the capability of dominating the online fashion forum through brand representation and creating a killer environment where consumers want to hang out. I’m so excited about this project, but it’s going to require a separate entry (most of which I just wrote and erased for the sake of “brevity”).

Back to the Techno Luxury conference… among the attendees were some of the most prominent fashion bloggers, in addition to the editor of The Business of Fashion and founder of the Luxury Society, Imran Amed. I was just reading this article from The Business of Fashion blog about the recent frenzy of staged social media activity surrounding Fashion Week, which was apparently discussed last week at the conference. I say staged because many brands today are eager to appear “on-trend” with our virtual lifestyles, without realizing that 1) it’s not a trend, and 2) you can’t always “fake it til ya make it” and consider yourself a leader.

While the article is definitely worth a full read and a spot in your Evernote files, I thought these two points were especially on-point:

It’s not enough to be seen to embrace social media. Brands and retailers must also build real long-term symbiotic relationships with bloggers, not short-term exploitative ones. Excellent examples of this are Lane Crawford, who from the start have supported and worked with Tommy Ton on their ad campaigns, and Burberry and DKNY who hired Mr. Schuman for his photography skills to appear on their website and in their advertisements, respectively.

Finally, consider the point made by Yuli Ziv, a New York-based fashion blogger who said to brands last week: “If you are looking for sales, make sure to provide [bloggers] the detailed product info, pricing and availability, if  SEO optimization is your top goal – make sure you use the right keywords in your pitch, if publicity buzz is what makes you satisfied – give them juicy stories, and if you simply want love – give them the reasons to love you.” It’s as simple as that.

Without beating a dead horse, it’s critical for brands to incorporate digital outreach into their full strategy, and not just dabble in social media in some back office. Yet for many brand leaders, there just isn’t an understanding of technical capabilities, much less of implementation and execution, and without an acceptance that the future is now (how cliché is that?!), they are going to keep throwing money into one-time-only buzz campaigns with no depth or continuity.

PR Diagram

As anyone who’s skilled in PR will tell you, the goal of a communications investment today is not to create an event that only provides a short burst of attention, but to create something that can grow and spread on its own. Even if it’s a PR event, there should be a build-up and then an follow-through which can maintain buzz over a period of time far longer than the initial event. Web marketing is the same… and I’m struggling to think of a better medium in history that could ever provide such long-term attention after an event, especially when considering digital video and other multimedia and social content.

This is important… and as one of those “digital natives,” I couldn’t have said it better myself:

I regularly hear reports of major online fashion properties who “can’t find the budgets” to hire young digital natives to help them amp up their online content. This is pennywise, pound foolish, especially as these young talents can be hired for a fraction of the cost of major photo shoot or big-time editor.  –Imran Amed

Finally, what strikes me as perhaps the most insightful part of this analysis is a comment left by Allistair Allen of AnOther Magazine. Put simply:

Hire more Geeks.

Thanks, Allistair.

Reading Material:

Defining Moments: Blog Around the Clock | WWD

From Couture to Conversation | NYT

Once Wary of the Web, Luxury Brands Embrace It | NYT

Luxury Brands and the Case for $4,000 Sunglasses | NYT

My Techno: A Designer Viewpoint | NYT

Nick Knight: Techno King | NYT

Gritty Glamor in Berlin | NYT

You can follow the International Herald Tribune Twitter archive of the Techno Luxury conference here.

References & Reading Material from Jefferson Hack’s Presentation:

Fashion Film on Dazed Digital:
——————————
Lady Gaga Exclusive: http://dazeddigital.com/features/LadyGaga.htm
Swarovski State of Grace: http://www.dazeddigital.com/projects/astateofgrace/Default.aspx
Westwood: http://www.dazeddigital.com/Fashion/article/846/1/Backstage_With_Vivienne_Westwood
Alexander Mcqueen A/W 09: http://www.dazeddigital.com/Fashion/article/2656/1/Alexander_McQueen_AW09
Tim Richardson – Transition : http://www.dazeddigital.com/Fashion/article/1742/1/Rotation
Armani: http://www.dazeddigital.com/Fashion/article/651/1/AX_and_Dazed_present_a_film_by_Matt_Irwin
Carolotta Managio – Mutate: http://www.dazeddigital.com/Fashion/article/2349/1/Mutate
DKNY Turns 20: http://www.dazeddigital.com/Fashion/article/1687/1/DKNY_Turns_20
Martin Margiela: http://www.dazeddigital.com/Fashion/article/2367/1/Instant_Instinct

Authors:
——–
William Gibson : http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/
Marshall Mcluhan: http://www.marshallmcluhan.com/

Social Media
————
Charles Leadbeater: http://www.charlesleadbeater.net/home.aspx
Mashable: http://mashable.com/author/barb-dybwad/

Augmented Reality:
——————
Total Immersion:  http://www.t-immersion.com/
Layar: http://layar.com/layers/
Bruce Sterling: http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/

Interactive Design:
——————-
Uxbooth Blog: http://www.uxbooth.com/blog/the-future-of-interface-design/
This Happened:  http://www.thishappened.org/talks/

Future Publishing
—————–
Apple Tablet: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/09/apple-tablet-everything
Sony Flexible Full Color Paper Screen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6bkmPjVF-k&NR=1&feature=fvwp
E-Paper
: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq_2LiTxhls

Presentation Formats:
———————
Neil Perkins Presentation from IPA Social October 09: http://www.slideshare.net/The_IPA/neil-perkins-presentation-from-ipa-social-oct-09

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Luxury & the Internet: Milano Fashion Global Summit 2009

25 11 2009

Last night I had a brief moment to slip out of the office and into the Milano Fashion Global Summit in the center of Milan, where the industry leaders of Italy were gathered to talk about “Who Will Survive” the Global Financial Crisis, and more importantly, how.  Of course, with most speakers getting between 5-10 minutes on the floor, it goes without saying that there was not much depth (or height, in this case?) to the Summit.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get away in time to hear Matteo Marzotto speak about his plans for reviving the Vionnet brand, but I was able to make it there towards the end of the day, when one of my favorite topics was being highlighted: Web & Mobile Luxury. However, upon arriving at the venue, I was disappointed to find that the presentation was entitled: “Is Luxury Compatible with the Internet?”

Seriously?! …After writing about this for more than a year, and studying and working in the field for longer, I sometimes can’t believe that we are still hearing this question asked among those considered to be the industry elite.

But I digress.

The presentation was delivered by Jacques-Antoine Granjon, French CEO of vente-privee.com, a members-only online retailer of some 850 brands, typically selling end-of season products through 3-day flash sales. It’s kind of like the European version of Gilt Groupe, with what appears to be a much smaller selection of merchandise and fewer high-profile brands.

The presentation was brief, but in his defense, with only 8 minutes to deliver a message to convince business leaders that luxury and the internet do belong together, he made an entertaining synopsis.

Without further ado….

My Brief Notes on the… Brief Presentation

Following are the notes I took from the presentation. I tried to keep it as verbatim as possible, so read this with a French accent. To begin to illustrate his point, Granjon started with an analogy to online luxury…

Question: What is the most exclusive toy in the world of luxury today?

Answer: The Luxury Jet

  • It saves time & offers control (controlling the when & where in life = freedom)
  • It provides the best service (with highly skilled staff, pilots, maintenance & 1-to-1 travel care)
  • It offers the utmost in innovation & know-how (provided through superior R&D, highest quality materials, technology & design)
  • It is exclusive (traveling alone, in privacy = power)
  • It provides the dream (exploration, imagination)

These five points represent the luxury codes, which the internet can provide for brands. BUT, these codes are not enough for luxury online. There are several more points:

  1. The internet is not just a new format of boutique. It requires a new distribution strategy.
  2. It accelerates growth and visibility of brands everywhere around the world, but only if controlled.
  3. There can be no mistakes, because the internet is permanent, and it takes time to build a presence.
  4. The internet is a world that requires new skills and entrepreneurial determination. In addition to the luxury codes mentioned above, in order to be successful on the internet, luxury brands need the following:
  • Tech skills: must evolve as quickly as they emerge
  • Digital factory: create graphics, coding, etc
  • B2C distribution centers
  • Award-winning customer relationship services
  • Knowledge of online marketing

I see your point, but…

For those of you out there who are, like me, thinking, “That’s IT?” after reading this… yes, that’s it.

They still don’t get it. While it may seem obvious if not insufficient to those of us who eat, sleep and breathe this stuff, I have personally met CEOs and marketing managers of major luxury brands within the last year who are reluctant to start developing a branded web-presence because they fear losing control of the brand image. On the other hand, I have also met online wizards who are eager to take advantage of this lack of luxury presence online, but fail to realize that they need savvy logistics and distribution systems as well as a killer CRM program before even contemplating the notion of luxury e-commerce.

But, back to that presentation. There are two primary associations to luxury that are critical, and are blatantly missing here. When a branded online environment is created, they should definitely be addressed.

The first, and perhaps the most important of all luxury codes is connectivity (this can mean a lot of things, among them the connection a customer feels to what a brand represents, like American Aristocracy with Ralph Lauren, or to a brand’s history of jaw-dropping elegance and sex, which is what a customer is buying in a modern Vionnet dress). Some people will call this “history,” but I think it’s also important to indicate that the luxury customer is  buying into a community, connecting that history with their own.

Most luxury brands have a profound history, and if they don’t start with one, it’s often fabricated, as was the case with the Tod’s brand under Diego Della Valle’s brilliant marketing strategy (he had shoes from the new Tod’s brand superimposed on famous images of Audrey Hepburn and other classic icons). Just as the luxury jet connects us either to a location from our past, or to an exciting future, so does the luxury brand. There is a story behind it- something both intimately familiar and excitingly new. The internet is the perfect vehicle to convey that history, to tell the story about how a particular brand developed and why that brand is loved, and to build a connected community of “lovers” around it, like a family that shares the same values.

Finally, an unfortunate association to luxury that is certainly present with the private jet, and a term which occurred in my graduate research on the topic more than any of the other luxury codes, is waste or excess. Happily, the internet can help to eliminate waste in so many ways, from streamlining the supply chain on the back-end to providing the transparency that allows consumers to understand and choose what tradeoffs they are willing to make between such hot points as carbon footprints, “Made in…” issues, labor conditions, and production materials, versus price and quality.

Moving on to the other points of the presentation, I disagree with a couple of things:

  • His point: The internet accelerates growth and visibility of brands everywhere around the world, but only if controlled.
    • My point: The internet accelerates growth and visibility of brands everywhere around the world, regardless of whether or not the brand controls the message. It’s always better to establish your own online presence than to entrust it solely to outsiders and amateurs, who could accelerate brand growth and visibility in an entirely undesirable way.
  • His point: There can be no mistakes, because the internet is permanent, and it takes time to build a presence.
    • My point: No one is infallible. Tell a brand manager that she has to be perfect in every way on the internet, and she will never build a presence there. The beauty of the internet is that you can address mistakes right away: you apologize, publicly correct the situation, and in the process it’s likely that you actually increase your fan-base because people trust you.

So, for those of you out there who are fashion/web geeks like me, take heart: we’ve got a lot of fun work to do!

And, by the way, I noticed that the Vionnet site is not developed. If anyone knows Matteo Marzotto, let him know that I’d love to help!





Social Media for Fashion

25 06 2009

Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. MySpace. Flickr. Chictopia. LookBook.  HypeDiss. Chictini.  Kaboodle. ThisNext. StyleHive…

It took me few minutes to count up all of the social networks that I am a part of (18, I think) -I personally got started on friendster, back in the day! There are so many options in social media and networking, and while many brands have gotten on-board, as I’ve mentioned time and again, fashion and luxury brands have taken a backseat on the action.

The irony of this is obvious- these brands are supposed to be the leaders in what is cool, not the followers. However, pressure from 2 sides of the spectrum has led many fashion brands to get moving in social media:

  1. Baby Boomers are moving out of the market and into retirement, and brands must now target the emerging market (that’s us here in Gen X & Y). Not only do we live online, but we expect that our favorite brands include us and talk to us. We don’t care so much about the branded temples of retail flagships, though they’re nice for a minute or two.
    • According to Forrester Research, 2/3 of Facebook’s 200 million users are post-college age, with the +35 group growing the fastest.
    • Twitter, which had 20 million unique visitors just last month, estimates that 42% of its users are 35-49 and 20% are 25-34.
  2. If you build it, they will come. If you don’t build it, someone else will. Many brands avoided the online forum for fear of losing control of their message. Then they lost control of their message… other players went online and spoke for them with no official brand representation or rebuttal.

Enter the Worldwide Web of Fashion

Finally, fashion brands are entering the playing field, using social media to build their brand image and community online.

Today’s WWD had a great article called Social Media Rewrites the Rules for Brands, exploring this topic:

Fashion houses, designers and retailers are rushing into the free social media phenomenon that is reshaping not only interpersonal communication, but how apparel, accessories and beauty products are marketed and sold.

They are tweeting, blogging and updating their profiles in an effort to mold their brand personalities on real-time global platforms and form relationships with a community of customers, particularly consumers for whom the Web is as important as a limb.

Social media enables brands to provide personalized customer support and drive conversion to retail sites, but it goes further in reinforcing the tribal element of fashion- the inclusive sense of identity that many brand-fans seek when they purchase fashion products.

“Customers can feel like they are part of the brand’s extended family, and therefore the brand itself, while the interactive element further deepens that relationship,” said Alex Bolen, chief executive officer of Oscar de la Renta. “These characteristics address and satisfy that ‘tribal’ part of the fashion consumer — the way in which people identify themselves by the brands they buy.”

In addition to providing a sense of inclusion, social media enables companies to be a part of the conversation about their brands. They can address controversy, reward loyal fans, and inform customers on everything from sales to upcoming collections, to the details and behind-the-scenes action that goes into producing a fashion line.

Furthermore, social media can provide the very sense of intimacy between a brand and its consumers that the recent consumption-boom and mass-marketization in fashion annihilated.

Keeping Up the Chatter

Virtue, the social media consultancy firm, created a Social Media Index to measure what people were talking about online. They found that the five most talked-about fashion and retail brands online were Gucci, Target, Gap, American Apparel and Urban Outfitters (May 26 – June 1, 2009). Not surprisingly, all of these brands are active in social media and networking, and they update frequently.

The “currency of the internet is such that if you’re not updating on a timely basis, individuals are disappointed,” said Robert Triefus, worldwide marketing and communications director for Gucci. “In fact, it can end up backfiring.”

Main point: the brand should be present and interacting online, vigilant to conversations, and constantly adapting to communicate their consistent message in new ways. Furthermore, the company should be prepared to make an investment to create social media worthy of the brand. Generic doesn’t fly in the fashion/luxury community.

Another important point is that it is critical for brands to state when a social media page is OFFICIAL. Otherwise, it’s often hard to tell if it’s coming from the company or a third party, particularly with so many fan sites out there!

Social Media Brand Directory for Fashion

I took the WWD Twitter directory, added some brands, and expanded into Facebook and a little MySpace. If you know of any additional brands/sites that should be included, please let me know!  Check it out…





Social Media Brand Directory for Fashion

25 06 2009

It’s interesting to see the different levels of interactivity that each brands goes for…

Please let me know what is missing!

Twitter:

Adidaswww.twitter.com/adidasrunning
American Apparelwww.twitter.com/americanapparel
Anna Wintour (fake):  www.twitter.com/AnnaWintour
Baby Phat www.twitter.com/BabyPhat
Banana Republic: www.twitter.com/BROfficial
BCBG Max Azria www.twitter.com/BCBGMAXAZRIA
Betsey Johnsonwww.twitter.com/xoBetseyJohnson
Brian Reyes: www.twitter.com/BrianReyes
Burberry: www.twitter.com/Burberry
Calvin Klein:   www.twitter.com/calvinklein
Charlotte Ronsonwww.twitter.com/cjronson and www.twitter.com/shopronson
Colette www.twitter.com/coletteparis
Diorwww.twitter.com/Lady_Dior
Diane Von Furstenbergwww.twitter.com/InsideDVF
Dolce & Gabbanawww.twitter.com/swide
Donna Karanwww.twitter.com/dkny
Edun LIVEwww.twitter.com/edunlive
French Connectionwww.twitter.com/frenchconn39
The GAPwww.twitter.com/GapOfficial
Patrick Robinson designing for GAPwww.twitter.com/Patrick_at_Gap
Givenchywww.twitter.com/givenchy
Gucciwww.twitter.com/GuccibyGucci
www.twitter.com/gucciofficial
H&M USAwww.twitter.com/hmusa
Halstonwww.twitter.com/halstonette
Hayden Harnetwww.twitter.com/hayden_harnett
Henry Hollandwww.twitter.com/henryholland
Isaac Mizrahi www.twitter.com/isaacmizrahi
J. Mendelwww.twitter.com/jmendelfashions
Karl Lagerfeldwww.twitter.com/Karl_Lagerfeld
Fake Karlwww.twitter.com/fakekarl
Kate Spadewww.twitter.com/katespadeny
Lacostewww.twitter.com/LACOSTE
Liz Claibornewww.twitter.com/LizClaiborneNY
Loehmannswww.twitter.com/Loehmanns
Louis Vuittonwww.twitter.com/LouisVuitton_US
LuisaViaRomawww.twitter.com/LuisaViaRoma
Marc Eckowww.twitter.com/beingmarcecko
Nikewww.twitter.com/nikebasketball
Nordstromwww.twitter.com/nordstrom
Oscar de la Rentawww.twitter.com/OscarPRgirl
Rachel Roywww.twitter.com/rachel_roy
Rebecca Minkoff www.twitter.com/RebeccaMinkoff
Sakswww.twitter.com/SaksSF
Stella McCartney www.twitter.com/stellamccartney
Thread Social: www.twitter.com/threadsaid
T.J. Maxx www.twitter.com/tjmaxx
TOPSHOPwww.twitter.com/Topshop_tweets
Tory Burchwww.twitter.com/toryburch
Urban Outfitterswww.twitter.com/urbanoutfitters
Vivienne Tamwww.twitter.com/VivienneTam
William Rastwww.twitter.com/williamrast
Where Fashionwww.twitter.com/WHEREitisAT

Facebook:

Adidaswww.facebook.com/adidasoriginals
American Apparelwww.facebook.com/pages/American-Apparel/5677674978
Baby Phatwww.facebook.com/pages/Baby-Phat/35373382369
Balenciaga: www.facebook.com/pages/BALENCIAGA/21947035401
Banana Republicwww.facebook.com/BananaRepublic
BCBG Max Azria:  (facebook accounts set up by individual stores)
Betsey Johnsonwww.facebook.com/xobetseyjohnson
Burberrywww.facebook.com/pages/Burberry
Burberry Prorsumwww.facebook.com/pages/Burberry-Prorsum/43075077013
Calvin Kleinwww.facebook.com/CalvinKlein
Comme des Garçonswww.facebook.com/pages/Comme-des-Garcons/41358966980
Diane Von Furstenbergwww.facebook.com/dvf
Dior www.facebook.com/pages/Dior-Products/11089634356
Dolce & Gabbanawww.facebook.com/DolceGabbana and www.facebook.com/SWIDE
Donna Karanwww.facebook.com/DKNY
Edun LIVEwww.facebook.com/edunlive
Fendiwww.facebook.com/pages/Fendi/19285423476
French Connectionwww.facebook.com/pages/French-Connection/36004768305
The GAPwww.facebook.com/gap
Gucciwww.facebook.com/pages/GUCCI-the-official-page/44596321012
H&M www.facebook.com/hm
Halston www.facebook.com/pages/Halston/34900667531
Hayden Harnetwww.facebook.com/pages/Hayden-Harnett/16959276125
Isaac Mizrahiwww.facebook.com/IsaacMizrahi
J. Mendelwww.facebook.com/pages/J-Mendel/56407368815
Juicy Couturewww.facebook.com/pages/Juicy-Couture/48253834063
Karen Walkerwww.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Walker/92673569182
Kate Spadewww.facebook.com/kate-spade/10737653985
Loehmannswww.facebook.com/DiscountDesignerClothing
Louis Vuittonwww.facebook.com/pages/Louis-Vuitton-Paris/8572077774
LuisaViaRomawww.facebook.com/pages/Florence-Italy/Luisa-Via-Roma/110378796336
Maison Martin Margielawww.facebook.com/maisonmargiela
Nikewww.facebook.com/Nikestore
Nordstromwww.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2218233177 (employee-focused)
Not Just A Labelwww.facebook.com/group.php?gid=14224765798
Oscar de la Rentawww.facebook.com/pages/Oscar-de-la-Renta/7722689875
Rachel Roywww.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-Roy/66287349227
Ralph Laurenwww.facebook.com/RalphLauren
Rebecca Minkoffwww.facebook.com/pages/Rebecca-Minkoff/77383965939
Sakswww.facebook.com/saks
Stella McCartneywww.facebook.com/stellamccartney
TOPSHOPwww.facebook.com/pages/Topshop/59672929326
Tory Burchwww.facebook.com/toryburch
Thread Socialwww.facebook.com/pages/Thread-Social/53595221355
Urban Outfitterswww.facebook.com/pages/Urban-Outfitters/9278511141
Vivienne Tamwww.facebook.com/pages/Vivienne-Tam/48184458173
Vivienne Westwoodwww.facebook.com/pages/Vivienne-Westwood/18379711361

MySpace: (in progress)

Edun LIVEwww.myspace.com/edunlive
LuisaViaRomawww.myspace.com/luisavroma
William Rastwww.profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=126348999





Topshop rides the Sartorialist wave, bringing integrated marketing to NYC

19 06 2009

vintage bike“What do bicycles, fashion, photography and the Internet have in common?” asks WWD.

To that, I would reply, “Me!”

Sadly, today’s WWD article is not referring to yours truly, but to the latest Topshop marketing campaign, which is so exciting and thoroughly integrated that I couldn’t NOT write something about it.

For one week starting tomorrow, New Yorkers can borrow one of 30 Topshop bicycles (for free) and cruise around the city to prescribed destinations. There will even be a bike valet outside the store to take care of customers’ own bikes as they shop.Topshop has been building up to this event for a couple of weeks, event featuring a style section on their website for “how to cycle in style.”

Topshop's latest style advisor article

topshop fashion mapEveryone who borrows a bike will receive a fashion map which will take them round a choice of three separate routes via Topshop’s favorite New York haunts. The route will include snacks at Tea & Sympathy, a visit to DIY- clothing emporium Home Ec from the owners of boutique clothing shop ‘Flirt’, and a trip to Pixie Market to browse the up-and-coming designer offerings. According to the press release, the map will also include a few hidden gems.

nicky digitalNow, lending out bicycles for a sort of indie fashion city-tour is a cool idea, but here’s what turns the PR event into a lasting marketing scheme: the shoppers and cyclists will be shooting pictures of each other, or will have their pics taken by a nightlife photographer (Nicky Digital) in the store. The goal is to have everyone create their own content to be posted on social networking sites Chictopia.com (an online community for fashion peeps), Flickr, and Topshop’s Facebook page. They’ll be encouraged to do this through an online competition, the winners of which will receive a bike of their own.

Followers of Topshop’s Twitter feed will get clues to a scavenger hunt inside the store, where hidden tickets will admit finders to a screening of Michelangelo Antonioni’s “Blowup” on June 26 at The Yard in Brooklyn, an outdoor party space that is also on the Topshop map.

This is also a pretty good way to encourage people to build a community around the brand, first by introducing people through a fun social activity, then by recording their interactions and activities, and creating continuity of the new community online through content and tagging… and with a follow-up event!

Sartorialist Bike shotWhile the green movement is certainly at play somewhere in the growth of bike popularity, I think another implied message here has something to do with the Sartorialist craze. Scott Schuman resides in New York, and is a big fan of shooting chick-on-a-bike shots, which his followers go wild for. Of course, most of the shots ares somewhere between fashion-forward and downright classy, and this is a good way for the Topshop brand to say, “Here you go ladies… go out and find the Sartorialist.”

It also serves to introduce the Topshop brand to New York (as if that were necessary) by featuring brand “complimentors” on the fashion map. By featuring cute little indie boutiques, cafes, and young designers, Topshop is implying that this is a community to which they belong. Whether we could actually consider the multi-national Topshop chain to be a part of this community in reality is debateable at best, but their core customers certainly affiliate with it.





H&M and Iran on Twitter

18 06 2009

The power of social media is strong!

Today I was making my way home through Milanese streets crowded with demonstrators protesting on behalf of Iran. Understanding how Twitter was quite instrumental in the organization and publicity of these demonstrations worldwide, I was not surprised to find a large number of Tweets in my feed referring to the Iranian election. However, what was surprising was the comparable balance of tweets focused between the Iran Election and the newly announced co-project between Jimmy Choo  and H&M. After reading Mashable’s blog post on the intense use of Twitter surrounding the Iran elections, I decided to do a quick comparison of my own, using Twist.

It turns out that the Iran election received a whopping 222,000 tweets in it’s top hour on Tuesday, comprising 2% of all Twitter traffic that day!  Perhaps even more surprising is the fact the H&M received nearly half that on Wednesday (still “today” for some of you!), comprising 1% of the daily Twitter traffic.

Take from that what you will, but I’m impressed on both accounts.

H&M twitter stats

iran election twitter stats

(Sorry about the low quality, but you can check H&M out here and the Iran election here.)





Fun & Games in Online Marketing

6 06 2009

david victoria beckham EA ad

We have all read a bunch of articles about the reluctance of luxury brands to go online due to a fear of brand dilution (translation: they don’t want to lose their luxury status by putting the brand out there with everyone else, and losing the ability to control their brand message). Now that the luxury players are developing their own websites and even some e-commerce capabilities, they are still unsure of how to proceed with interactive marketing. However, regardless of whether or not a brand decided to play the online game, people will talk about a brand. They will say great things, terrible things, true and untrue things… they will make spoof commercials and fake marketing campaigns.

The only good defense a luxury brand can have is a good offense. If they put out a website that’s substandard… well, that’s not very luxury, is it? But, if they do it well, there’s really no better way to protect the brand, distinguishing the “real thing” from the posers.

I was thinking about this today when I came across a spoof on a campaign for Emporio Armani underwear. You know the Beckham ad I’m talking about? Armani spent more than £32 million to have David and Victoria pose for a series of shots in the EA underwear, and the ads were posted on billboards around the world (including a rather fetching one of David, here in Milan). Well, it appears that a couple of married pranksters (sic.) decided to do their own version. Back in February, the UK’s 70-year old TV magician, Paul Daniels and his wife, Debbie McGee, set up the same shot used in the EA campaign, down to the drawn-on tattoos. The photo was published in the UK’s Closer Magazine, and across various websites around Europe.

paul daniels debbie mcgee emporio armani

My point is, if you’re a known brand, people will take your marketing messages and make their own messages, irregardless of the medium. User-generated content has been around a lot longer than the internet. Once the luxury companies get a handle on Web 1.0, Web 2.0 (or, some would say Web 3.0) can offer exactly the sort of customer attention and user-experience that the luxury market expects. Might as well play the game!