NEW YORK — By establishing a presence in people’s everyday lives, fashion marketers can shake off the stamp of sameness that curtails their effectiveness in communicating with consumers.
“By starting out with the power of a great idea, and extending it across different media, brands can start to break out of the commoditization trap they’ve fallen into,” said Bob Isherwood, Saatchi & Saatchi’s worldwide creative director, in citing product-focused fashion print ads he likened to a blender in which everything is coming out the same.
“We live in an and/and world,” Isherwood said. “It’s not print versus other media; it’s a combination of print and new media that can embrace the consumer and develop a brand’s emotional potential.”
Most fashion marketers have leaned for too long on print advertising while consumers experience a world marked by mounting advertising clutter — one in which their media consumption has become more fragmented. Some fashion brands, however, are starting to launch integrated, multimedia campaigns that are intended to connect with people in different parts of their lives.
At Tag Heuer, that strategy will take root in promotional events next spring, including one in which people will be invited to the Indianapolis 500 as a guest of the luxury watch brand owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Because of the presence brand sponsorships can create in people’s lives by associating brands with events such as the Indy 500, brand loyalty specialist Robert Passikoff believes they have become more effective marketing vehicles than print ads.
“The trick is not to tell them how wonderful you are as a brand; it’s to connect with them in their everyday lives,” said Daniel Lalonde, president and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Watch and Jewelry North America. “That’s a change this year,” he said of Tag Heuer’s attempts to place the brand front and center in people’s lives, a reflection of its integrated marketing efforts begun around four years ago. “We believe we have the most effective [marketing] mix today — but in two years it won’t be the same, because consumers won’t be the same as they are today.”In 2005, for instance, a combined 20 percent of Tag’s media plan will be allocated to sponsorships and public relations, up from 15 percent this year.
Another marketing platform emerging as a means to establish a brand’s presence is in-cinema advertising, from on-screen commercials preceding movies to backlit showcases and kiosks in lobbies and rest rooms. In a brand-to-media consonance study by Brand Keys this year, 1,500 women ages 21 to 59 rated in-cinema ads as the most likely medium to enhance their awareness and image of fashion brands, as well as their likelihood of buying them.
Alloy’s 360 Youth marketing unit, which targets youths and young adults, is starting the first phase of a rollout of in-cinema advertising vehicles in most of Regal CineMedia’s 550 theaters. By yearend the project is anticipated to result in the installation of 565 backlit lobby showcases, 700 backlit lobby kiosks and 735 washroom ad panels, in stalls and above urinals, across 200 theaters. The 550 theaters, located in the country’s top 25 metropolitan markets, are used by about 350 million moviegoers annually. Roughly half are ages 24 or under, a primary point of appeal to Alloy, whose focus is on marketing various products, including apparel, to youths and young adults, said Derek White, executive vice president and general manager of media and marketing.
“Cinema advertising is largely unexploited,’’ White said. “People are getting there well in advance of movie times. It’s a big audience in an uncluttered environment.”
In its joint venture with Regal, Alloy plans to capitalize on the proximity of shopping venues to the theaters with promotions such as the redemption of ticket stubs for discounts at nearby stores and coupons distributed through the ticket window that can be redeemed at movie concession stands for product samples.
Target is one of the companies with which Alloy has been speaking about a possible in-cinema ad deal, White said, noting the sales effort started in September and there are a handful of Regal theaters displaying ads. “Movies are a see-and-be-seen scene for youths, which could [prove attractive] for fashion brands,” White suggested.
The in-cinema advertising arrangements will carry price tags from low six-figure deals to ones in seven-figure country. “Fashion people would typically spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars,” White projected, adding seven-figure deals would likely be inked by automotive, packaged goods, wireless and beverage companies.Indeed, one reason more fashion brands haven’t branched out farther beyond print advertising is the high cost of other media. “Fashion companies are [typically] spending about $5 million a year on advertising,” estimated Neil Kraft, president of KraftWorks, whose clients include Playtex, Hanes Hosiery, Just My Size, In Style, Cointreau, and Voss water. Kraft contends fashion brands with a budget of $5 million or less would do best to stay focused on print and outdoor ads, and possibly some viral marketing. “North of $8 million, they can think about whether they want to use TV and other media,” Kraft counseled.
One fashion brand at the forefront of integrated marketing campaigns aimed at getting up close and personal with consumers has been DKNY, whose DKNY Jeans label in September launched a fall multimedia campaign with Ellegirl and Alloy. The effort is based on the mutual desire of Ellegirl and DKNY Jeans to extend their presence, with Ellegirl seeking to reach more media consumers and DKNY Jeans aiming to raise its visibility among fashion-forward teens. “It gives us a platform outside print, while preserving a fashion identity,” said Ellegirl publisher Deborah Burns, who pointed out it presents DKNY Jeans with an opportunity to surround the consumer with its brand. “The [campaign’s] 41-market mall tour is a way to take the DKNY Jeans brand directly to the consumer in a way we could not have done in a magazine ad.”
Burns was referring to a series of DKNY Jeans/Ellegirl Fashion Pavilion events this fall, which are being mounted via Alloy’s partnership with Simon Malls in 41 shopping centers nationwide, including one staged at Brea Mall, in Brea, Calif., Oct. 9 that featured a live performance by recording artist Toby Lightman. The event will be recapped in Ellegirl’s February issue.
A 13-page DKNY Jeans advertorial, “VideoGirl,” published in the September issue of Ellegirl, forms the foundation of the marketing effort, one that features Lightman dressed in DKNY jeanswear and portrayed in different phases of taping a music video for her song “Real Love” — from a creative meeting to wardrobe fitting and shooting, with music video director Charles Jensen.
The advertorial extended an invitation to readers to enter a sweepstakes whose grand prize winner will become the next “VideoGirl,” winning an all-expenses paid trip early next year to go behind the scenes of an upcoming video directed by Jensen. The winner will also receive a DKNY Jeans wardrobe and be featured on a page in an edition of Ellegirl next spring documenting her experience.Augmenting that print and experiential DKNY Jeans campaign was an online component, which included a “VideoGirl” microsite created by Alloy’s 360 Youth unit, accessed through ellegirl.com and alloy.com. The DKNY Jeans fall collection was featured on the microsite and was promoted in 50 schools this September, in media vehicles such as ad boards owned by Alloy.
“A touchpoint for teens is music,” Burns said in describing the basis of the music video experience. “We like to inspire teens and challenge them.”
This is the second of two articles on alternative marketing. The first appeared on Oct. 20.
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