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Burberry took further strides in the digital universe Monday, pushing its spring women’s show in London out across 11 social networks, its own digital flagship and through 13 live-streams on outdoor screens set up in locales from New York’s Times Square to Hong Kong’s Worldwide House.
The push was part of a partnership with Apple, featuring the tech giant’s iPhone 5S. Apple approached Burberry to exclusively use the iPhone 5S to capture images and video before, during and after the show, and Twitter’s real-time reach resulted in tens of millions of impressions for content relating to the event. This also marked the first time that Burberry used photos taken with a mobile device to broadcast on large-scale outdoor screens.
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This story first appeared in the September 17, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The brand saw 1,200 retweets of the show’s finale photo and more than 3,000 retweets for a picture featuring Harry Styles. Due to the success of Burberry’s behind the scenes #beautybooth, which the company launched at the previous women’s show, models Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn posed for and posted personalized messages to Burberry’s more than 2.6 million Twitter followers. A 15-second finale video on Instagram garnered nearly 18,000 likes in a matter of hours (Burberry currently has 960,000 followers on Instagram).
The content was disseminated among the platforms where Burberry maintains a digital presence — including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Japan’s Sumally and China’s Sina Weibo, Douban and Youku.
A screen in Times Square live-streamed the show, as did 11 additional screens along Cromwell Road in London and one in Hong Kong.
“Social media is as important as search, as print, as outdoor, because you’re reaching a totally different consumer,” said Angela Ahrendts, Burberry’s chief executive officer, in an interview with WWD after the show. “You can either put it out there or let them say whatever they want, but we prefer to lead the conversation, fill it with rich content, to start a higher level discussion. And why not? I think that’s great branding today.”
The ceo said she’s “not 100 percent [sure] what will come of it, but we’ll see.”
Immediately following the show, looks from the runway went on sale at burberry.com, which is fully optimized for mobile devices. The site is also selling a slew of show-related handbags, techcessories and the Burberry Nails collection containing the six colors — pale grape, sage green, rose pink, mink, pale yellow and dusky mauve — through Sept. 30. The oversize Petal clutch (with an interior pocket designed expressly for the iPhone 5S) is available in 34 colors and materials, from a $1,695 pink leather version with lavender shearling trim to a $1,250 translucent turquoise style with hand-applied rubber flowers. Forty-six different iPhone 5S cases — also compatible with the iPhone 5 — range in price from $265 to $365. The Runway Made to Order service, originally introduced in February, saw an evolution this season — and customers now have the option of purchasing timepieces and nail polish.
Ahrendts declined to comment on how return on investment will be measured on any digital fashion week programs, or what role social media plays in Burberry’s overall digital marketing spend.
Digital observers have noted that the company appears to have scaled back on its investment in social media, devoting fewer dollars to promoted posts and ads on Facebook, while pumping more capital into e-commerce operations.
The exception is China, where the brand is still working hard to bolster its social media profile.
“I mean, if you look at some of the social media stats coming out of China today — three times more people are on social media than there are even in America, so it’s another medium to communicate, to show people your brand image, who you are in your way,” Ahrendts said.