ONE FOR THE DOGS: Lyst.com has been pulling pranks on social media in a bid to raise awareness around specific issues related to fashion — and the plan appears to be working.
On Monday, the London-based fashion and shopping site announced it had launched a “canine collection” on Twitter. The faux campaign sparked outrage on social media.
The site sent a press release to media outlets — along with a selection of imagery and a short video — promoting its new category: animals.
The following day the site said it was “inundated with requests to purchase a pup. More than 100 people e-mailed to preorder a French Bulldog.”
Lyst also said it was working with certified breeders in the U.K. and U.S. to supply the dogs from 33 breeds including dachshunds, great danes, pugs and poodles.
It said shoppers could filter dogs by type, color options or size. It also offered free consulting services with dogs hand-delivered in a carrier kennel.
The company later came clean and admitted the ploy was meant to raise awareness about all of the handbag-sized dogs that are purchased — and later abandoned.
According to statistics from Blue Cross, a U.K. pet charity, an increasing number of “fashionable dogs” have been given up in record numbers by owners.
Lyst’s chief marketing officer Christian Woolfenden said the prank has garnered much attention.
Introducing the Canine Collection! Be sure to compliment your summer outfit with a four legged friend 🐶 pic.twitter.com/tUYMHibQSj
— LYST (@lyst) May 9, 2016
@lyst Hi, can we talk via DM about your new Canine Collection?— RSPCA (@RSPCA_official) May 9, 2016
“We’re delighted by the response so far,” Woolfenden told WWD. “I strongly believe companies have to do their bit in the world beyond making donations to charities. The real impact comes from throwing the weight of an organization and brand behind a cause,” he told WWD.
“We were inspired by stats from the Blue Cross animal charity about the increasing number of abandoned ‘handbag’ dogs, and I firmly believe that businesses have a duty to do their bit, and we wanted a campaign that would make mainstream news as well as fashion press, to highlight a real cause, relevant to the fashion industry and a broader public audience.”
The dog prank wasn’t Lyst’s first — and it will most likely not be the last.
On April Fool’s Day, the site announced it was involved in a project involving “rainbow silkie” chickens. According to Lyst, the new “agricultural breeding project” combined genetics, science and poultry husbandry to create a species of chickens that lay pom-poms instead of eggs.
For April 1 only, customers could purchase their own custom box of free-range pom-poms, said Lyst, which had been inspired by images of Kylie Jenner’s puppy pictured with a pom-pom on social media.
“A hoax is a brilliant way to let a marketing narrative unfold,” added Woolfenden. He admitted that last month, Lyst “kidnapped” a DHL driver for his Vetements T-shirt, later releasing pictures of him being held hostage in the brand’s office while staff tickled him with feathers.
“You can’t be a one-trick pony. This is one of the many levers we’ll be pulling over the coming months and years to turn the brand into something as powerful as the incredible product we have built. The fashion industry is pretty conservative when it comes to marketing and there’s a lot of fun to be had in this space.”