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Brands be warned: #selfie fatigue


Did you know, there were already 884 brands running #selfie competitions on Twitter by October 2013 (the year of the selfie), according to social media benchmarking company, Unmetric. Safe to say, that number has only risen since, as everyone from French Connection to Calvin Klein, not to mention Marc Jacobs and DKNY (and that’s in the fashion industry alone) have likewise jumped on the bandwagon.

In theory it’s a quick win: stick a contest up on social that taps into this hashtag phenomenon, sit back and wait to see your consumer engagement sky rocket.

Or so you hope.

In practice, if everyone else is calling for that content too, it doesn’t take long before standing out from the noise is as hard as it’s ever been. Selfie fatigue, or indeed hashtag fatigue is undoubtedly on its way (as so eloquently demonstrated by the lovely Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake). To really find success in this space, what that means is brands need to dedicate as much of a focus to creativity as they would with any other marketing activity.

Enter, a brilliantly-captioned warning to all on the pits of branded selfie contests. A couple of favourites selected below. Enjoy…

selfie selfie selfie

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French Connection launches in-store #selfie campaign


French Connection is launching the “ultimate selfie challenge” in the UK this spring.

Kickstarting officially in London on April 24, the retailer is introducing a campaign called #canthelpmyselfie, inviting shoppers to snap pictures of themselves to create a live display of its seasonal collection in store windows.

Fans are invited to book an appointment via the website for a variety of stores around the country (starting in Regent Street this week before touring to five other cities including Manchester and Newcastle through May) – once there they will select their favourite pieces from the line to wear, indulge in  a mini makeover session and then jump into an interactive selfie booth to snap their photo for the whole high street to see.

Jon Carney, creative partner at digital agency Somewhat, which collaborated on the project, said: “Mobile and social channels are an essential part of how millennial consumers interact with brands, and especially how they can experience fashion brands. As consumers’ physical and digital worlds are increasingly converging and colliding, brands need to respond with campaigns that bridge both worlds seamlessly.”

The real-time “phy-gital” initiative, as its being referred to, simultaneously employs live engagement with passersby by inviting them to ‘vote’ for their favourite look by placing their hand in front of sensors in the windows. The best selfies selected will be in with a chance of winning a £1,000 shopping spree.

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How fashion brands are using Vine

This article first appeared on Mashable


The fashion industry immediately embraced Vine, Twitter’s 6-second video app, after it launched in February. It was no surprise it was suddenly so popular: The app was released just two weeks before New York Fashion Week kicked off, a time when behind-the-scenes runway shots were readily available to capture and share in 6-second loops.

But Vine is much more difficult to make look beautiful and polished than Instagram photos, and brands quickly discovered that to participate, they needed to relax their typically stringent production quality requirements. Perhaps that’s why, following the shows, most fashion houses dropped the platform altogether, only returning to it, in some cases, for the menswear shows in London and Milan earlier this month.

That’s not to say that Vine’s fashion future is dead — it’s merely getting a slow start. Early data indicates that Vine videos are shared four times as often as other kinds of Internet video, and the launch of video for Instagram, which many brands have already enthusiastically adopted, is creating further incentive for fashion firms to ramp up their capabilities and resources in this area.

Let’s take a look at a few fashion brands using Vine to exceptional effect…

Stop motion art

Stop-motion artists are among Vine’s most popular users. Eyeing this trend, French Connection collaborated with photographer Meagan Cignoli to create a series of highly shareable, summer-themed stop-motion videos. In one video, the brand’s latest collection packs itself into a suitcase for a holiday. In another, various outfits are laid out and rolled up on the beach.

Cignoli tells me that each video typically has between 100 and 120 separately recorded clips. The result is incredibly fluid and eye-catching, instantly negating any notion that Vine can’t be a platform for quality creative work. Online retailer Nasty Gal is another standout for stop-motion inspiration, weaving playful, wiggling pieces of candy in and around products like handbags, shoes and makeup. Burberry, too, has used stop-motion video to showcase product prints and patterns, as well as celebrities present at its last menswear show.

Showcasing product details

The beauty of the French Connection work by Cignoli is that it places products front and center, but it’s so creative it doesn’t feel like marketing. Marc Jacobs is another example of a designer who is doing this, releasing some nice stop-motion work that features handbags on what looks like a rotating conveyor belt.

For others, Vine presents an opportunity to demonstrate the work that goes into making products. Matthew Williamson did this during London Fashion Week in February with his #matthewmagnified campaign, and Oscar de la Renta, through the handle OscarPRGirl, used Vine to detail the craftsmanship that goes into its bridalwear pieces.

Gap is also using Vine to highlight key pieces in-store, but takes a more editorial approach, employing models for its videos. In one, a woman spins around in an assortment of dresses. In another, a young girl plays in the latest DVF GapKids collection in the park. These are much more developed than the clips that debuted during fashion week season: a haphazard amalgamation of garments on hangers and poorly lit models on runways.

Injecting personality

Some brands’ Vine videos manage to be both beautifully produced and full of personality.

Urban Outfitters released short videos that are playful yet stylish at the same time. In one clip, a bunch of balloons float into an office. In another, the contents of a purse are being prepared ahead of a festival trip. In another stop-motion video, makeup carries itself into a bag. It’s worth noting that with more than 40,000 followers, Urban Outfitters is one of the most popular brands on Vine, proving that volume and frequency of posts can be a more successful formula than fewer, higher quality videos — as showcased by French Connection, which has just a fraction of Urban Outfitters’ followers.

Behind the scenes

As mentioned, fashion brands released a great deal of behind-the-scenes content on Vine during fashion week season. This is a trend that’s continued since the shows, with brands and retailers providing windows into their corporate headquarters, design studios and individual stores.

Marc Jacobs has used Vine to take followers on many journeys at its headquarters and stores, from the creation of its latest Resort collection campaign to celebrity interviews during in-store book signings. Using the hashtag #staffstyles, Marc Jacobs frequently showcases the prints and patterns worn by its employees. In another example, Bergdorf Goodman features staffers as they try on different pairs of sunglasses. The video is tied to a message about sun protection.

Puma recently released a series of Vine videos featuring Olympic champion Usain Bolt on the set of his latest campaign for the brand. The quick all-access videos, shot again by Cignoli, frequently allow Bolt’s own personality to come through. Meanwhile, Nordstrom has shown what it’s like at its stores after hours, with shoes whimsically moving about on shelves when customers aren’t there. In another video, a flying shirt leads followers on a magical tour through merchandise.

Beyond the obvious

One thing fashion and retail brands haven’t taken advantage of is the how-to video, which is a popular hashtag on Vine. Bergdorfs has done a beauty tutorial and Nordstrom has used Vine to show how to tie a tie, but there are plenty more opportunities here.

As autumn’s busy event calendar gets rolling and the fall collections hit stores, expect to see more behind-the-scenes footage as well as more close-up product shots. Though some brands’ participation has been impeded by corporate approval processes, there’s no doubt — especially with the recent launch of video on Instagram — that short-form video will become a more central part of the fashion industry’s output.

As Cignoli advises: “Fashion brands just need to let go a little and enjoy Vine for what it is, the quickness and easiness of it. If they can find a way to do that, it’s going to be much more beneficial even if what’s going out isn’t always the most amazing piece of content.”

Do you have any favorite fashion brands you follow on Vine?

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Why and how fashion brands should be on Vine: Meagan Cignoli creative interview


When Vine, Twitter’s six-second, video-sharing app, launched earlier this year, a flurry of fashion content followed from brands as varied as Dolce & Gabbana, Calvin Klein and Burberry. Jump forwards a couple of months (and out of fashion week season), and content from those same designers has gone somewhat quiet – 78 days, 32 days and 20 days since they posted respectively.

What’s left however is a collection of brands that are working out how to use it more effectively. When the hype of a new platform inevitably subdues, sometimes it’s those that stick around and keep with it that end up the most successful, even if their path to get there is somewhat bumpier. Of course for fashion, the disconnect has been the distinct lack of control they are afforded in the app; Vine videos often look far more raw than the usual slick creative seen in the industry, and the logistics of posting is quite restricted.

Meagan Cignoli, a New York-based photographer who has made a name for herself for the stop motion work she is doing on the platform, says it’s for this exact reason however, that fashion should get stuck in. “[Brands] needs to let go a little and enjoy apps like Vine for what they are rather than trying to control the creative to such an extent that it loses its momentum,” she says.

She’s already been hired to create beautifully captivating Vines for big names including Puma, French Connection, Macy’s, Benefit Cosmetics, eBay Now and home stores like Lowe’s. I caught up with her to hear a little more about her thoughts on the platform and its application for this industry…

Your stop motion work on Vine is beautiful, how did it come about?

“Actually I’d never done it before. I shoot still, but I realised doing this on Vine is like shooting many many stills consecutively to create movement, so it was a very natural leap. Most of my inspiration comes from a still moment as a result. I think about something being really beautiful and then I make it move. I see a picture of a place, or a setting at a table, or a dress, and I think I can make that look really really cool if I move it around in a series of photos. It’s just a matter of readjusting them as you go, which is what photography is anyway really.

I get up to about 100-120 frames in each Vine I do, but I use my finger. You can apparently get up to 140-160 if you use a mouse or stylus.”

How did your brand partnerships first begin?

“I just started experimenting on Vine initially, and only a few months ago, but within the first week I got a call from Lowe’s. A lot of publicity followed that work, in Advertising Age and in The Wall Street Journal for instance. Since then I’ve had a different brand getting in touch with me every other day and wanting me to work on this advertising for them.

It’s a total dream come true because I’m given so much creative freedom. I’m not just coming up with the concepts but directing and shooting the Vines too. Every project is so different and that’s why it’s so fun right now.

French Connection’s PR team in London asked me to do it as a trial with just three Vines to begin, and people went crazy for it. It was a big learning experience for me – I’m used to working with a huge team and a big studio with stylists and the like, but with this I had to go and pick up the clothes from the store myself. I then had to shoot the thing alone as well. When I do my own Vines it’s a tiny space I’m operating in, using my own hands to adjust things. But once it gets bigger with items of clothing, I need the extra help. I quickly realised it was necessary to get a stylist and an assistant.”

Do you think all of the fashion industry should be thinking about Vine?

“I’m always so shocked that more companies aren’t doing it. They have accounts but they haven’t pushed it. It’s an incredible form of advertising and method of getting out there, so why wouldn’t you?

It’s so new and it’s rapidly moving – there are 2,500 Vines being uploaded per hour, and the people on it are just scrolling through it all day. The first minute I post I get 50 likes, that’s amazing to me. If your post becomes popular enough and gets picked up on Vine’s featured page, it’s like having a commercial all day that essentially you’re not paying for. There are roughly 40,000 people looking at that page every day at a minimum, I would say. And the content doesn’t change on it for 13 hours, so you just stay up there.

The issue is that it does take a level of commitment to do it properly – you need to be getting content out every week if not every day. French Connection and Puma are weekly deals for me. Other brands are just doing short campaigns, so a lot of content in a short amount of time and there’s a level of benefit to that too. But if you think about it, a TV commercial would run over and over and over; a Vine only has a span of half a day, so I can’t help thinking there’s more benefit in being in front of this audience on a daily basis.”

What do you think the restriction is for the fashion industry, how would you tell them to approach it?

“These brands have gone so long with everything having to be approved, checked and made sure it’s on-brand, it’s much harder for them to push out content on a daily basis. The way Vine is set up you have to upload immediately too, so that makes it more complicated.

They just need to let go a little and enjoy the app for what it is, the quickness and easiness of it. If they can find a way to do that, it’s going to be much more beneficial even if what’s going out isn’t always the most amazing piece of content.

Urban Outfitters for instance, doesn’t have the best, but they’re always doing them and it’s worked for them. Gap in comparison does beautiful Vines but you never see them because they’re not doing them enough. If they’re gorgeous but not so often, then they’re hidden away.”

How do you go about posting in a logistical sense considering Vine doesn’t allow you to save and publish at a later date?

“I shoot it on airplane mode, write the caption and save it to my photo gallery. I then send the file to whoever is my contact at the agency or brand. If they’re happy with it, I then switch back on and post it from there.

French Connection has been pretty good about me just uploading it. Puma is also incredible, saying I can just post as many as I want. Lowe’s in contrast flies in and every single one is approved. I then hold it on airplane mode and post the content a week later. I have five iPhones here as result, if I’m shooting multiple in one day then I have to have.”

Would you want them to change aspects of Vine to make this all easier then?  

“If you could choose what to upload when, that would be great. So if I could shoot five at a time, then stagger when they post; because no one wants them to all go at once.

But I think it’s great that you can’t upload what you didn’t create in the app. These sort of strict guidelines as to what you can do is great, it’s like a game, you have to work against the rules. It’s hard if you’re not on Vine to understand what is a good Vine. Once you use it yourself and know how difficult it is, that it can crash or that you can’t edit it, then it becomes all the more challenging and more fun to do.”

Meagan is hosting an online class from May 29 with Skillshare, which will provide tips for others on how to create compelling stop motion work on Vine. The challenge will be focused on “animating your wardrobe”.

Below is a continued selection of both her own Vine posts and those for numerous brands, as well as a video of several of them tied together. Be sure to look out for more of her work for French Connection and Puma going live on Vine throughout this week too.

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French Connection trials Google Goggles in store windows

French Connection has become one of the first brands to experiment with Google’s visual search technology, Google Goggles, in a bid to provide shoppers with quick and easy access to video content from its UK store windows.

Users need only take a photograph of the high-street retailer’s posters with the app to access a host of videos created by the brand, including the autumn/winter 2011/12 campaign (as below), alongside additional exclusives.

The application is integrated with Google search on Android devices and the iPhone. It scans images and then matches them against a library of virtual images, pulling in all relevant search information.

“We are lucky as a brand as we make a lot of content, but sometimes we can’t afford to get it all out there. By snapping a window with your Android or iPhone you can be delivered content that is not only relevant and engaging but is actually quite cool as well,” said William Woodhams, director of marketing and PR at French Connection.

The scheme was launched on September 19, initially as a trial in the retailer’s Westfield Stratford City and Westfield London destinations.


Here’s why fashion brands need to commit to digital through every level of the business

As London Fashion Week comes to a close, and fashionandmash marks its first full season, I can’t help but think about the phenomenal pace of change surrounding the way in which the industry has embraced all things digital throughout 2011 so far.

This blog started because of my personal obsession with the crossroads of fashion and technology and a desire to both track and push the increasing convergence of the two.

Within just seven months (from the eve of LFW past), I’ve gone from posting about the same old list of familiar ‘savvy’ brands – Burberry, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton – to almost being overwhelmed with how many potential stories I could run from across every level of the industry.

In the past week alone, French Connection has teamed with Google Goggles, Gucci is launching an interactive and immersive in-store experience in time for Milan Fashion Week, and Net-a-Porter is continuing its use of Aurasma technology for its new autumn/winter campaign.

As I wrote for Mashable, LFW upped its game more than ever this season too.

From high street retail to the upper echelons of luxury design, innovative digital initiatives are popping up all over the place.

Don’t get me wrong, as I mentioned when I set out with this, there’s still a long way to go. But the sense of experimentation being adopted by fashion now more than ever is what’s pleasing to see.

So what comes next? How do brands – and particularly those in the luxury sector – continue with this tech-enabled, access-all-areas love affair in order to seem modern, and yet not erode that sense of exclusivity so important to the very essence of their beings? Or in other words, how do they respond to that same question that put them off embarking on this journey in the first place.

The answer is simple: quality.

As renowned art director Fabien Baron was recently quoted in a (brilliant) AdWeek feature, as saying: “A lot of brands say, ‘We need a film [to put online]—something quick, [like] a behind-the-scenes.’ And they do it over-the-shoulder, poorly produced, and the quality of the job is not as high as the print ad. So what starts to happen is that they have a message that is diluted, even from the brands themselves.”

In his opinion, the solution is to make brands live the same luxe life digitally that they do in print or on billboards.

In reality therefore, the answer to the aforementioned question, is actually commitment.

Brands now need to realise that digital is not just a sideline experiment that can be satisfied with the odd tweet or behind-the-scenes posting when a push around something more innovative is not at play. Instead, today it’s a layer that both sits with and surrounds every other marketing activity of the brand and accordingly it needs a dedication to it from the highest level of the business.

Speaking at ad:tech London yesterday, Marc de Swaan Arons, chairman of Effective Brands said (about social media particularly) everyone in the team will be a brand ambassador in the future. “Assume you have to get everyone on board, and build a roadmap to get there,” he said.

In essence, only when everyone is on the same page can a brand truly achieve the quality needed to portray itself as well in the online space as it does in the offline one.