MAKERS TEAM UP WITH TINSELTOWN

Byline: David Grant Caplan

NEW YORK — They may not be hollering “Hooray for Hollywood,” but jeans marketers are increasingly looking to the entertainment scene as a way to make their brands stand out in a cluttered fashion market.
With awards shows, film festivals and other celebrity pilgrimages attracting more attention, a number of denim brands are finding new ways to link their names to entertainment. Polo Jeans Co., Guess Inc.and Lucky Brand Dungarees are among the brands lining up to take advantage of the public fascination with celebrity.
Polo Jeans, for example, this year has signed on as a sponsor of the third annual Movieline Young Hollywood Awards, to be held April 23 at The House of Blues in Los Angeles. The show, which grew out of an annual feature in the magazine, honors Hollywood’s up-and-coming stars
The company’s sponsorship of the event will take a few forms: its Web site, Polo.com, will be the exclusive internet broadcaster of the event; ushers and other officials at the show will be dressed in Polo Jeans clothing, and tickets to the ceremony will be handed out in Polo Jeans departments.
Ross Klein, Polo Jeans’ senior vice president of corporate marketing, said the company will also donate either to the House of Blues Foundation, which promotes racial harmony, or “support a charity that the two [male and female] ‘New Stylemaker’ award winners chose and do that in partnership with them.”
The New Stylemaker award recognizes “today’s leading actor and actress for their ability to create a new fresh look and to establish a style that will stand out in the young Hollywood crowd,” said Movieline magazine group publisher Audrey Arnold. This year’s female nominees are Katie Holmes, Milla Jovovich, Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson, Carly Pope, Kirsten Dunst, Julia Stiles, James King and Sarah Michelle Gellar. The male nominees have not yet been announced.
Klein contended that Polo has taken a less traditional sponsorship strategy than other apparel companies.
“We haven’t jumped into what I call ‘the battle of the gift bags,’ where we read about these very extravagant gift bags for celebrities,” he said. “That has sort of become a big business and a singular marketing [initiative] for some brands.”
Klein said the popularity of denim in young celebrities’ wardrobes influenced Polo’s sponsorship of the show.
“If you look at what these people are wearing when they are being cool and casual and what they are wearing in music videos…part of their whole couture is very often denim-based,” he said.
Polo Jeans’ other entertainment-related sponsorship endeavors include the Telluride Film Festival, to be held Aug. 31 to Sept. 3 in Telluride, Colo., and the Shooting Gallery Film Series, a four-month long presentation of independent films at Loews Cineplex theaters across the country. Polo distributes free tickets to the Shooting Gallery series in its concept shops in major department stores.
“What I like about going in and out of these events…is it becomes a natural adjunct to the event,” Klein explained, “because our brand is equally aspirational as the celebrities that we’re associating with.”
Guess, which sponsored for the first time last month the Moxie/Santa Monica International Film Festival, also believes its brand benefits from the sponsorship of entertainment-related events.
“The industry that the event represents is also a factor and in this case, it was a Hollywood film scene which Guess loves to associate itself with,” a Guess spokeswoman said. “Guess prides itself on being young, sexy and adventurous, and we believe this venue successfully combined these elements with the arts, which Guess strongly supports.”
During the seven-day festival’s closing-night awards gala at the Fairmont Miramar hotel in Santa Monica, Calif., Guess staged a 20-minute fashion presentation showcasing its spring collection.
Guess also provided the gala’s approximately 500 attendees with a shopping bag filled with Guess products.
Another Los Angeles-based company, Lucky Brand, has for several years been a player in the West Coast film festival circuit.
For the fourth year running, Lucky is a sponsor of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which began March 1 and ends Sunday.
Lucky co-founder and president Gene Montesano on Sunday evening plans to host a dinner at Lucky’s, a 131-seat restaurant he opened in Santa Barbara three months ago, to honor Diane Keaton. The actress will be presented with the festival’s Modern Master Award, which honors excellence in acting. Attendees will receive a goody bag filled with Lucky products.
Attendees at the 15th Annual American Comedy Awards, to be held in Los Angeles on April 22, will receive similar Lucky-filled bags.
Montesano, who lives in Santa Barbara, said the company’s sponsorship of the film festival’s dinner is not part of any marketing or branding campaign. Instead, he claimed, he is just “trying to do whatever I can to make it a better community.”