By Victoria Manenti
I recently came across an article on the Vanity Fair website about Sacai, a growing fashion brand, that does not place a strong emphasis on celebrity endorsement in its brand strategy. The article caught my attention because I think this strategy differs from what so many other brands are doing today. Sacai seeks to tap into its target audiences in the most intimate and genuine way possible. In other words, Sacai places strong emphasis on creating a “mini-army” of Sacai-wearing women in all shapes and sizes. The brand believes a word-of-mouth strategy among its most loyal consumers is the strongest way to expand its popularity.
“It’s not so much about celebrity dressing, but it’s actually about women referring the clothing to other women,” Chitose Abe, Sacai’s designer, says in the article.
I believe this is something more retail brands should be thinking about when trying to reach their customers. As stated in the article, so many retail brands rely on the use of celebrities to promote their clothing through advertisements, social media and highly publicized events. However, more and more customers are looking for brands that speak to them from a more real and authentic voice. When conducting research during my summer internship, I discovered that consumers, especially college-aged millennials, want brands to create messaging that doesn’t feel like an advertisement. These consumers also want to see average, everyday individuals featured in campaigns, rather than celebrities or models. The research may suggest that younger consumers are becoming more media literate and savvy when it comes to advertising, as well as public relations. Celebrity endorsements may not be resonating with these younger audiences as successfully as they were before. In my opinion, many brands must be more innovative than relying on celebrity endorsements to break though today’s information clutter. Brands must sustain a close relationship with its most loyal consumer base. These loyal consumers can become a brand’s most active promotional tool though customer-centric ambassador programs, advertisements and public relations campaigns.
Below, I’ve highlighted other brands that I believe are doing a successful job connecting to audiences without the use of celebrity endorsement.
Apple’s Shot on iPhone Campaign: The brand uses authentic, unedited imagery and video footage captured by its consumers directly in Apple advertising pieces.
Starbucks’ Holiday Red Cup Campaign: To celebrate this year's holiday season, Starbucks opted to use designs on its cups created by its artistic customer base to express the "shared spirit of the holidays."
Victoria’s Secret PINK’s Campus Representative Program: PINK leverages everyday college women to promote its products on campus through its successful brand ambassador program. The brand also uses content curated by the Campus Reps on PINK's official social media accounts.
Each of these brands does an effective job making its customers feel like a close part of its story and overall mission. Rather than using a celebrity endorsement, these brands allow everyday consumers to sell its brand message and newest products, creating powerful "mini-armies."
What are your thoughts on brands relying on celebrity endorsements? Do you think this strategy is as powerful as it used to be for retail companies? Let me know your thoughts below.
Victoria Manenti is a senior public relations major at Kent State. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This blog post was originally shared on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/celebrity-problem-victoria-manenti?trk=hb_ntf_MEGAPHONE_ARTICLE_POST
by Alyse Rohloff
Can you imagine sitting second row in a fashion show at New York Fashion Week and being in the same room as former Glee star, Naya Rivera? Well believe it or not, these things actually happened to me. Last week, my dreams came true when I was given the opportunity to volunteer with a fashion PR firm in New York City for New York Fashion Week. I worked with Agentry PR for the Claudia Li and Rubin Singer presentations and the Nicholas K and Christian Siriano shows. My duties were basically to hand out programs and help seat guests, nothing challenging. The best part was after all the guests had their seats, the volunteers were able to sit in any open seat, meaning I got to sit second row!
I couldn’t believe that I was actually at New York at Fashion Week because it had been a dream of mine for so long. But to be honest, I was terrified. I was going to New York alone to work with people I had never met before. I was scared about learning how to use the subways, what people would think about my outfits and if I would make any friends. But going alone and doing my own thing was one of the best choices I could have ever made. I proved to myself that I don’t need someone to hold my hand. I went to fashion shows, surfed the subway, made new friends and I did it by myself.
Overall, going to NYFW was one of the best experiences of my life. It made me excited to go back to New York in the summer for an internship and even more excited to (hopefully) live there someday. It also showed me what fashion PR is like and a small glimpse of what my future career will look like. It also showed me that I am strong enough to do my own thing and make the best of it. I would strongly recommend anyone that is interested in working in fashion PR in the future to volunteer for NYFW and get your foot in the door.
By Alyse Rohloff
Fashion public relations is a large and ever growing industry; however, if you think it’s all about looking cute and shopping, you have this industry completely wrong.
In the PRSSA National Conference presentation “Just the Right Fit: Fashion Public Relations,” Theo Tyson owner of Trinity Productions, defines fashion PR as “the idea of creating coverage for clients for free.” The industry is highly strategic and relationship driven while also being dynamic, cyclical and fast paced.
“PR is a practice, it’s an active thing. You have to have interaction,” Tyson said.
Tyson that one of the most important elements of fashion PR is brand ethos. This is not only knowing the brand you represent, but living it as well.
Three things that make up fashion PR is image management, brand awareness and relationship building. Image management deals with working with models, celebrities and organizations to show the values and identity of your company. Brand awareness deals with creating attention using magazine articles, promotional events and film and television coverage. Relationship building includes taking the advantage of connections with fashion editors, bloggers and stylists. However, Tyson says to be aware that bloggers can be either your best friend or worst enemy.
As for agency verses corporate, you can’t escape it in the fashion industry. In fashion, corporate is known as in-house. In this field, one can become very focused solely in her company.
Tyson states that in the role of a fashion PR professional, you must act as the friend that everyone comes to about their jeans. This means you have to be the one that is honest and makes their friends look good.
“You have to get people to the point where your brand is more than a commodity, it’s a part of their lifestyle,” Tyson said.
Tyson's final tips on becoming a great PR professional is to be authentic, be strategic and be memorable. Also, be a thought leader instead of a trend setter.