Chanel grabbed everyone’s attention once again at Paris Fashion Week – this time for another future-focused theme with its spacecraft set design. Kudos to the work that went into that but can you imagine the budget? Even Karl Lagerfeld’s visions have got to come back down to earth (excuse the pun) at some point – where is the true value, is the question? Jeff Bezos of Amazon meanwhile, is genuinely exploring how to ship products to the moon.
Elsewhere this week, we’re also talking about Natalie Massenet’s other role running her own VC firm alongside her new co-chair position at Farfetch; the incoming of robots at retail; news of Everlane ditching Facebook Messenger notifications (an interesting move that may spell some serious indication around chatbot ROI); and under our tech header, a must-read from Wired on Ford’s future city including hoverboards that carry shopping and drone deliveries to skyscrapers.
What better time of year for something a bit fun and interactive than at Christmas. With an increasing movement towards more in the way of technology that actually resonates with consumers, we’ve seen all sorts of campaigns deployed this season to enhance the festive experience in both physical and digital spaces.
From chatbots to virtual reality devices, not to mention increasingly clever applications on social media, all things digital are proving key for successful holiday seasons to come.
Here we’ve rounded up all of the best of this year’s initiatives across the fashion and retail space. Don’t forget to also check out our best picks of the festive films for 2016.
Technology aids in merging physical with digital
The evolving presence of tech in the holiday season was first spotted when John Lewis launched its Christmas campaign in the UK a few weeks ago. Included was an in-store activity where visitors could experience its Buster the Boxer commercial through virtual reality headsets.
Shortly after, eBay opened a two-day pop up in London that aimed to be the first store run on ‘emotions’. Visitors could browse gift items and select the ones they responded to the best, according to bio-analytic and facial technology.
Next we saw Hearst Magazines teamed up with Blippar to create the world’s first ‘augmented reality retail district’ in Covent Garden. Magazine editors worked with 35 participating retailers to bring to life beauty and fashion gift guides that are only available to view through the Blippar app. Further gamification included using the app over the district’s Christmas tree, located in the famous Piazza, to unlock retailer and restaurant discounts.
Meanwhile in New York, department store window displays are being celebrated through a campaign from Google called Window Wonderland, which allows users to experience 18 displays, from the iconic Bergdorf Goodman to Macy’s and Tiffany & Co, also through the magic of VR. Each can be zoomed in and even come with audio guides from some of the store creatives talking about this year’s work.
The experience was produced by Google’s Art, Copy & Code team by taking hundreds of high-resolution images of each store and then stitching them together so they can be viewed via a web browser, on a smartphone or tablet, or through a VR headset.
In a nod to the lesser trend of wearable technology this season, Samsung is celebrating the launch of its new G3 smartwatch in Piccadilly Circus from Dec 1 until Christmas Eve, with one choir performance a day, showcasing holiday spirit from around the world. Aiming to bring Londoners and visitors together, each choir comes from a different culture or country, ranging from France to Bangladesh.
The key part however is that selected choir members will wear the new smartwatch, which will measure their heartbeats, movements and calories burnt. The biometric results have then been transformed into visuals, displayed on eight screens around the stage.
Social media spans chatbots to live video
Beyond creatively deploying technology in physical environments, brands are taking to social media to explore new and different ways they can engage and encourage followers to get excited for the season.
Conversation was also the name of the game for Agent Provocateur this season, albeit in a human capacity. The lingerie brand took to Whatsapp for a campaign led by its agency Cult LDN. Referred to as a Ménage à Trois, it helped couples choose ideal gifts by chatting within a group.
In a simpler way, we’ve also seen retailers like Macy’s pushing its “The Santa Project” campaign over social media with ads on Facebook Canvas and Instagram Marquee, while also encouraging followers to record their own videos explaining why they #Believe in Santa.
Also deploying video is Barneys New York, which has promoted a stylish Secret Santa featuring a group of influencers, from Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine to DJ Mia Moretti. #BarneysUnwrapped lives on the retailer’s Instagram page, where each participant stars in an individual video unwrapping their gift, subtly encouraging viewers to buy said items at Barneys, of course.
Needless to say, there’s also been a big focus on Snapchat this season with retailers such as Kohl’s taking the tried-and-test route of Sponsored Geofilters and John Lewis a Sponsored Lens themed to Buster the Boxer.
Sweet, Hearst’s Snapchat-only media channel, meanwhile ran a two-day pop-up ‘shop’ sponsored by Maybelline. It released a gift guide with over 100 snaps, ranging from affordable to expensive, with Maybelline ads running in between. While Sweet’s editorial team worked on the extensive gift selection, it also developed fun and shareable content such as GIFs and catchy phrases, hoping viewers would screengrab their wish list items and send to friends.
Despite the success of a Snapchat giveaway campaign during this year’s Black Friday, US beauty subscription box Birchbox experimented with Instagram Stories in a “12 Days of Christmas” initiative for the holidays instead. It revealed prizes and discounts from partners such as Hilton and Athleta, in a campaign hosted by actress Sophia Bush.
This sort of staggered giveaway as a strategy, has been deployed by a number of other American retailers this year, including Target for Black Friday, and JetBlue with another 12-day campaign in a bid to get customers to come back and interact day after day.
Meanwhile with live video on a steep incline, Facebook Live has been the focus for a lot of brands ahead of the holidays. UK retailer Primark, an active user of the feature, has recently promoted a series of giveaways under the “Go, Get and Gift” headline, where viewers who answered questions correctly the quickest would be rewarded discounts and gifts.
ASOS ran a similar campaign that grabbed viewer’s attentions by asking them to guess what was packed inside mysterious bags as tips and hints slowly unfolded, with all the right answers entering a prize draw.
What this also proves is that with digital media so embedded in customers’ lives, brands are particularly embracing chances to grab audience attention while they’re willing to join in; during a positive and festive time of the year. The holiday season, unlike its divisive younger sister Black Friday, is the perfect opportunity for them to convey a message of unity and fun, while experimenting with all that the newest tech has to offer. Look out for much more of this ahead too however.
With 150 million active daily users worldwide and 25-34 years olds as its fastest growing demographic, Snapchat is increasingly an appealing and pivotal part of social media strategy for fashion brands.
The problem is, with a severe lack of discoverability on the platform (there’s no search nor content surfacing), gaining traction isn’t the easiest task unless you’re spending money on ad products with the company. The same goes for the lack of metrics on hand; meaning building out what that content plan should look like isn’t a terribly straightforward one.
A paid-for strategy might well be for you, of course, and is in fact all that Snapchat itself will support. Burberry, ASOS, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, John Lewis and more, have all done so, working across the three ad products available (Snap Ads, which appear between Stories and Discover content, Sponsored Geofilters, which are location-specific overlays on images and videos taken, and Sponsored Lenses, which are augmented reality additions to selfies taken by users).
But underpinning that, needs to be a strong organic content plan – an understanding of the ways in which to get the most out of the platform year round, and use your other channels as a basis to push followers to it. At our recent #FashMash Bootcamp, a masterclass dedicated to Snapchat, we put forward 10 tips and tricks to get the most out of it, as well as lots of examples of brands to learn from within the fashion industry already doing it well.
1/ Tell stories
The key thing to recognise with Snapchat is how transient the content is. Arguably that affords you the ability to throw bits and pieces up and not worry too much. But more to the point, it means you need to make a big impact in a short amount of time to convince users to return. Storytelling is critical therefore. This is a storytelling platform. You need to think about what you’re creating along those lines accordingly. Even if your content is a basic behind-the-scenes view, does it have a beginning, middle and end? Storyboard out what that looks like before you start in order to capitalise on it to its greatest extent.
In terms of what the content should be, think around providing some seriously unique access – exclusivity beyond what you offer on other channels. Burberry has done this well, so has Agent Provocateur; both of them recognising this is not a place to copy and paste the same assets. The other critical consideration is around humour. Snapchat is all about entertainment. It’s playful, funny and whimsical, which may be an entirely different direction for your brand, but it’s a critical way to think in order to win on this platform. You want your content to have an “I would screenshot that” moment and being emotionally engaging is the secret sauce to making that happen.
2/ Get creative
Use the tools on hand within the Snapchat platform. The very heart of this app is the fun and frivolous nature of its messages sitting hand-in-hand with that humorous storytelling vibe – from the quirky illustrations you can add to the emojis, bitmojis, lenses and filters. Be native to the platform by integrating them into what you send. It will instantly lift your work to be more in line with what users expect to see. Gucci is a great example of a brand that has played with it in this way, thanks largely to its partnership with street artist GucciGhost, aka Trouble Andrew, last fashion week. But also check out the likes of Sophia Webster, ASOS and Primark.
If you’re up for advertising spend, your next best move is indeed a Sponsored Lens or Geofilter. The former tends to drive engagement, the latter is good for reach. Fashion has heavily experimented with both, the likes of Chanel through to Ugg creating entertaining and quite unexpected lenses, while River Island introduced filters to 280 of its stores.
3/ Don’t overproduce it
If there’s one thing that Snapchat isn’t about, it’s a polished, beautiful, laboured-over image. Forget that. It’s raw, candid and in the moment. It’s effortless, but rough around the edges. Again, if you want to feel like you organically fit alongside what a user is viewing from their friends, you don’t want your content to feel like an advert. Amateur is the aim.
Valentino is a great brand in this space, sharing real and regular insights into what all goes on in its showrooms, without feeling too stuffy or produced. Art direction is fine, but it needs to feel native to the platform. Remember it’s shot on a smartphone, which almost instinctively leads to an insider view and a fly-on-the-wall style, so embrace it.
4/ Pick your personality
Another part of treating the platform natively, comes in thinking about how your content is presented. It almost goes without saying that video is critical, but where Snapchat sits differently to most other channels is that success is frequently found in having someone’s face on show within that. Users are used to a very personal view from the interactions and the selfies they have from friends; the augmented reality Lenses only push this further. If you’re approaching this as a brand therefore, it’s about hiring people that can achieve this for you. Are you working with an influencer (see point 7) or can your own team step up as personalities?
Everlane is the prime example here. It uses the platform as its primary social media channel, anchoring each and every post with insights from its candid and personable team members, Red Gaskell and Isadora Sales. They have come to represent the brand, making their stories and what they talk about, must-view content. It works within a feed of friends otherwise, and makes you feel as though you do indeed, know them yourself.
5/ Mix it up
The beauty of Snapchat is indeed the fact that it’s content so readily disappears, giving you the ability to experiment and see what works for you. Such ease of creation also provides the ability to mix up the type of content you produce, however. As with any channel, too much of the same thing gets repetitive. Think about how you can ensure a variety of content to keep it interesting for your team to produce and your viewers to watch – from the subject of them particularly, to whether they are stills or videos, and indeed include any of the creative tools in point 2.
Warby Parker is a particularly strong example of a brand posting regular and very varied types of posts. At this point in time, the industry at large, is leaning most heavily towards posting about product, followed by lifestyle and events, as per the below chart from L2. Can you think outside the box on this and lean towards ever-greater storytelling compared to your competitors, weaving in that piece around humour from point 1?
6/ Engage your community
To truly embrace the candidness of Snapchat, it’s important to engage your community. This isn’t a one-way channel, but rather an opportunity for authentic conversation. It’s about messaging far more than broadcasting. Encourage followers to send you Snaps by asking them questions in your story, invite them to screengrab certain posts you put up, and of course take that view into the real world with on-the-ground activations tied to your Snapchat feed.
Bloomingdale’s for instance ran a scavenger hunt with different geofilters placed around their stores that users had to send selfies of themselves with to win certain prizes. On an even simpler basis, rumour has it the team at Everlane send at least a selfie back to every Snap they receive.
7/ Work with influencers
As with so many other platform, working with influencers is a sure-fire way of authentically gaining traction and relevance with new audiences. It’s more important than ever with Snapchat however, where discovery is distinctly limited, as noted. For users to find you, they either need to know your exact username or have taken a picture of your Snapcode. Using influencers is therefore a smart route of enabling wider reach as well as engagement.
This is something the likes of Rimmel has done with Cara Delevingne and Tommy Hilfiger with Gigi Hadid. The latter has posted about the brand on her own account to drive new traffic to it, as well as hosted the occasional takeover on the Hilfiger channel around key events like fashion week. Treat those partnerships as you would on any other social network – make decisions based around what and who aligns with your brand, not just how many numbers they might extend to.
8/ Think about timing
Ensure you create a rhythm of posting. The whole purpose of Snapchat is to foster FOMO (fear of missing out), meaning you need to give your viewers a reason to return on a regular basis so they feel like they really are missing something if they’re not there. The ephemeral and transient nature of this platform provides the perfect opportunity to do so. Consider having weekly segments like Everlane does with its #TransparencyTuesday campaign and Chubbies does with its True Thighs fictionalised series – both go-to campaigns that viewers know to tune in for.
At this point in time, the fashion industry is otherwise largely focused on delivering content around fashion weeks or other events. Given there’s no back catalogue for users to flick through, that’s often a wasted opportunity. That’s not to say it’s essential to post everyday, but it’s only by regularly being present that you get seen here.
9/ Connect to commerce
All the aforementioned tips around storytelling, personalities and dialogue still stand, but on Snapchat, product reveals and showcases also have a big part to play. Consumers reportedly want to see your stuff, but the question then stands as to how you connect that engagement through to conversion? There is of course no direct route for links to e-commerce pages, nor any metrics around anything you’re putting out (unless you’re paying for ad products, as explained), but there are ways to start seeing uplift if you approach it creatively.
Think outside the box with your content strategy if conversion is a key objective. Can you drive codes through Stories that shoppers can bring into stores, giving you an anecdotal mode of ROI at least? Or could you share direct product codes within your posts, as Ann Taylor LOFT and Revolve have both done? Everlane has even experimented with Snapchat Discover publisher Sweet recently to test the idea of shoppable content via screenshots and emails.
10/ Spread the fun
As noted, discovery on Snapchat is really hard. There’s also no way to know how many followers you have or have gained with a campaign, unless it’s a paid one. Your number one job with any content strategy on the channel is therefore to look at broader means of getting people on board. You should be pushing your Snapcode out to further social platforms, as well as the real world, but more than that, cross promoting what you produce in order to drive awareness around the content itself.
Everything you post can be saved, reuploaded and shared elsewhere; teased and pushed accordingly. Fendi has even used its Snapchat Tour campaign as an opportunity to create an entire series on its own website, letting something that was once 24 hours long, live on long thereafter. Influencers come in again here too in order to help push numbers, but if you have a big following on the likes of Facebook, you might also want to think around some paid promotion on mobile using the “snapchat.com/add/username” link to drive awareness and direct click-throughs to the app and your account.
Agent Provocateur has launched a new campaign for the holiday season, anchored by an interactive video based on the idea of duality.
“Naughty or nice” sees two different versions of the same film captured, enabling the viewer to switch between the two by tapping their screen on a mobile, or pressing the letter “N” on desktop.
Actress Juno Temple plays the role of both personalities, one confident and knowing in a deep palette of blacks, the other more innocent and coquettish, marked by its softer shades of pink. You can see both in the video below, but head to the website to see the interactive version.
The initiative, built in collaboration with agency Cult LDN, gets a more personalised interactive boost over the coming weeks too, when Agent Provocateur launches what it’s calling the world’s first “WhatsApp Ménage à Trois”. Encouraging every women to explore her naughty or nice side, it is inviting certain shoppers, their lovers and an AP agent to have a “lusty conversation” in order to uncover their deepest desires, and wish list for the festive season.
No further detail available just yet, but it sounds like it will take advantage of the group chat function available on Whatsapp to provide a personal shopping and recommendation-based service ahead of the festive season, albeit with a little tongue-in-cheek action thrown in.
The Naughty or Nice campaign will run across the brand’s website, social media channels and stores, with each of its 120 boutiques given a ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ theme and merchandised accordingly.
Agent Provocateur has launched on Snapchat and Periscope simultaneously in order to provide candid insights into life working in one of its shops around the world.
#ShopGirlTakeover, as the social media initiative is being called, sees sales associates taking control of the brand’s Snapchat channel for a day as well as has them answering fan questions via live broadcasts on Periscope.
Creative director Sarah Shotton says: “I love how Snapchat and Periscope offer a candid way to document ?a moment in time, and who wouldn’t want to see what AP Agents from around the world get up to? Want to know how to get into suspenders in 30 seconds, or what to do with a whip? These are your girls!”
The results have generated over 1.2m views on Snapchat and 10,000 views on Periscope in the month its been running so far, thanks to takeovers in London, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Toronto, Shanghai and Melbourne.
Singer Paloma Faith, herself an ex-AP employee, has also had 24-hours on the channels as part of her tie-up as the star of Agent Provocateur’s autumn/winter 2015/16 #KnickersForever campaign alongside photographer Alice Hawkins.
The guys over at Story Worldwide have put together the most incredible exhibition dedicated to the history of the internet.
Digital Archaeology, as it’s called, is central to Internet Week New York this week, which I’m in town for especially. Dating from 1991, it brings together some of the most significant sites from each year since, displaying them on the original computers they were created on.
From Tim Berners-Lee’s “The Project” to games such as Noodle Box and a film portal for Requiem for a Dream.
There were a nice couple of fashion examples thrown in as well including Barneys.com from 2000. Using Flash 4.0, it featured full-bleed images, parallax movement and floating palettes.
Agent Provocateur’s site from 2007 meanwhile starred actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. A content-rich experience, it was based on the trashy novel and created in Flash 8. It was also one of a number of sites Story Worldwide worked on for the brand between 2004 and 2007, which were referred to by Vogue as the “sexiest sites on the web”.
Check out some of the Instagr.am pictures I took below: