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WWD Media Summit: Mobile Message

Brands must go where the consumers are.

Esi Eggleston Bracey

As nontraditional approaches to advertising continue to gain momentum, brands are using the larger reach of new media to take their messages further.

“It starts with the consumer and where she is the most receptive,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, vice president and general manager of global cosmetics for Procter & Gamble Co., during the summit’s panel on brand stories.

While Eggleston Bracey said P&G consumers are using new media more and more, a healthy blend of both approaches is necessary for reaching each customer. “She’s mobile texting and blogging,” said Eggleston Bracey. “She also reads magazines and is watching TV.”

Edgar Huber, president of Juicy Couture for Liz Claiborne Inc., and a former senior executive at L’Oréal, also was on the panel and provided insight into how he helped build Juicy into a $600 million brand. “We used very little traditional advertising,” said Huber, who credits new media, namely online, for its ability to “transport more content” and create an “interactive community” for less than the costs of traditional advertising.

To that end, Juicy Couture’s Web site, which launched at the end of September, has already attracted more than 8 million visitors. The site offers interactive clubs and opportunities for feedback, such as the online program “Rate My Juicy.”

“They [consumers] decide with you in what direction your brand should go,” said Huber. “It allows you to completely integrate the consumer.”

Juicy Couture’s newest Fifth Avenue store, “Juicy Land,” which opened in October, also provides customers with a more traditional visual representation of the brand’s message. “It’s very important for us to have an opportunity to express the whole DNA of Juicy Couture in stores,” said Huber.

When it comes to nontraditional approaches to brand management and advertising, Eggleston Bracey said P&G has had recent success with its partnerships. For the launch of Cover Girl’s Wetslicks Fruit Spritzers lip gloss, a partnership with pop star Rihanna provided customers the first downloads of her hit single “Umbrella” and product displays in Wal-Mart stores featured interactive elements, including song samples from her newest album and a message from the singer. Cover Girl’s partnership with the TV show “America’s Next Top Model,” as well as multifaceted spokeswomen ­— including its newest, Ellen DeGeneres — have also been successful for the brand and have lent themselves well toward new media and online content.

Cover Girl’s Web site offers live chats with makeup artists, mobile text clubs and customer-generated product reviews. “I love the idea of consumers having a voice,” said Eggleston Bracey. “An expert said that 67 percent of consumers are more likely to try a beauty product if they’ve read something positive about it on a blog or a message board or online social media, and that compares to 20 percent for a beauty counselor.”

Eggleston Bracey said the unfiltered blogs are monitored at P&G through a program called “chatterbox,” which tracks positive and negative words associated with the products. “We use blogs to not just market our product but to listen to what’s going on,” she said.

For Juicy, Huber said one of the Web site’s goals has been to offer customers an active relationship with the brand. He plans to extend the use of non-traditional and multimedia approaches in the future, especially during the recession. “It’s something you would push further when economic times are difficult because the potential return is much better than with traditional advertising,” Huber said. “Especially for innovation and development, interactive and new media is much more useful than traditional because it’s not one way, it’s two ways.”

Eggleston Bracey said that due to the state of the economy, it is more important than ever for brands to focus on their message rather than the strategy. For P&G, Eggleston Bracey said it is vital that the customer feels she’s making a smart purchase and can relate to the brand, its partnerships and its spokeswomen. “It’s a bit of science and a bit of art,” said Eggleston Bracey.

Although new media offer a variety of avenues for brands to market products, Eggleston Bracey repeated the importance of “cutting through the clutter” so that a brand’s overall message is clearly represented through whichever advertising approach it takes.

“At the end of the day, it’s a brand for girls who like stuff,” said Huber of Juicy Couture. “That’s what we stand for, and it’s not something we’ll give up.”