Have you heard of fashion ‘un-branding’? It’s the practice of stopping certain celebrities being photographed wearing specific labels. There is a whole segment of the PR industry, known as celebrity placement, dedicated to placing labels with celebrities (often via their stylists) that fit with their brand, in the hope that they are indeed photographed and that the images may be syndicated by the world-wide media. I recently heard once such PR saying that the goal for his brand was to have David Beckham photographed wearing it, but so far, no such luck.
But what happens when your brand falls into the wrong hands? And a few years ago, the celebrities that few brands wanted to touch was the cast of Jersey Shore, the US reality show that inspired the UK’s own Geordie Shore. One of the cast Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino, best known as a tanned Guido with a six pack and a love of booze and women, was offered a financial deal by teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch not to wear its merchandise.
Then, cast mate Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi, the pint sized Guidette, also tanned and a lover of partying, was reportedly sent high-end designer handbags by a bag manufacturer, but not of their bags but of a rival brand, in the hope that she’d stop using theirs. On that company’s website there is a ‘spotted’ section showing who has been spotted with their bags. There are photos of a whole host of celebrities, and yet a Google search shows hundreds of such shots of Snooki with her array their bags, that haven’t made it onto the corporate site – funny that!
We had a think of what the complete opposite would be. For example, say the nation’s beloved Julie Walters mentioned in an interview that she likes to buy her jewellery from Claire’s Accessories, the retailer may see a sudden spike in sales from the grey pound, but that would be short lived once the new customers realised that disposable accessories aren’t really for them. But, in the meantime, the core audience of young women will be alienated to the brand who wouldn’t want to shop in place that their grandmothers think is cool, however short-lived.
If you want to communicate effectively with your target market, it’s worth taking a lesson from the fashion industry. Whilst they’re practices may seem extreme and deliciously devious, fashion houses are brilliant at knowing and understanding their audiences, and keeping them loyal through a strong and clear brand. I often find when running branding workshops with clients that they’ve long forgotten what they stood for, or what their message is, and if they don’t know, it follows that their intended audiences will be at the very least confused, or worse completely disinterested. If you need help clarifying your brand and communicating it effectively, then drop us a line for a chat about how you can have the laser focus of the fashion industry.
By Christine Jones, Tiger Mouth