Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show: a PR wonderland

Like many on Dec. 3, I snuggled up in my bed with my 100 calorie bag of popcorn to watch the 2008 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show on CBS. As always it was a vision of sparkles, hot bodies and sexy sexy lingerie. With supermodels dressed in next to nothing plus angel wings, what’s not to love?

From the debate of which models will appear in the show (Heidi Klum, Adrianna Lima) to the $5 million 2008 Black Diamond Fantasy Miracle Bra, this show is the most exciting time of the year for the lingerie lovers of America (both women and men alike). And a time for a major brand push for Victoria’s Secret right before the holidays.

PR PR PRPINK model Victoria's Secret
Public relations is always in the air (and in my head!), and I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the fashion show is aired on 22 days before the holiday and is hyped up right before Black Friday. Obviously, the Victoria’s Secret PR people are no dummies and have perfectly crafted the show to cater to the holiday shoppers.

“The theme of the show is a return to glamour,” said company CEO Sharen Turney. “Victoria’s Secret is about sexy and the new sexy is glamorous for this season.”

The show was nothing if not sexy, and it definitely gave the  men and women of American something to lust over for the season.

What did you think of the 2008 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show? Was it really a return to glamour or do you think it was just another version of sexy?


Holiday Advertising: who will you buy from?

The holidays are my favorite time of the year. A time of family, friends, presents and ad campaigns. Ad campaigns?, you may ask. Well, who doesn’t love the fun, emotionally charged holiday commercials?

For retailers, the holidays mean it’s time to up the advertising, e-promotions and in-store sales events. For many, especially in this economic state, finding the best deals no matter where they’re from is the name of the holiday shopping game. But for some companies, the holidays are a time to give back to the community.

Holiday AdsGap Ad featuring John Krasinski
Around the holidays, retailers put a lot of time, effort and money into their holiday ad campaigns. They hire super celebrities and come up with catchy jingles. It’s the most profitable time of the year! So that means pulling out all of the stops and opening the checkbook.

Now that consumers are on the lookout for the hottest gifts and best deals, retailers are putting their best advertising foot forward. Especially during this economic crisis, retailers are putting out cheery holiday commercials to keep the spirit alive.

Holiday retailer reputation
For the PR pros, the holidays are a time to get some good PR for their clients. Whether it be donating to a children’s charity or just giving back to the community. Many corporations donate proceeds when customers buy certain products. One company that goes above and beyond in giving back is Macy’s. The department store has a history of giving back to its community with its Thanks for Sharing program and last year it donated $13 million to various charities across the country.

Holiday favorites
Some of my favorite advertisers incorporate holiday music, snow and celebrities. Here is my absolute favorite holiday commercial.

So how much does  holiday advertising affect your shopping decisions? Or do you take into consideration the company’s charitable giving?

Fashion e-Promotions: the overflowing inbox begins

Juicy Couture e-promotionThe holidays are approaching. That means it’s time for retailers to begin flooding our inboxes with their promotions and “special online offers.” The fashion and retail industries rely on these promotions, especially this holiday season, to draw in big sales.

Like many printed forms of promotions, e-promotions are used to get the word out about sales and other promotions quickly and easily. Undoubtedly, these promotions materials are crafted by the public relations department. Unfortunately for them, these types of promotions are getting lost in the clutter of overflowing e-mail inboxes and spam folders.

Good example
In order to breakthrough the clutter, retailers must design clean, simple promotional materials that will catch the eyes of their consumers. Juicy Couture does a great job of having clean, aesthetically pleasing promotions that always have me drooling for its latest handbags and accessories. So here’s a Fashion PRinciple for all those retailers ready to press send on their e-promotions: Be clean, be simple and don’t overflow my inbox.

Beaux Arts Ball: a PR success

Sophomore Monika Lange models a dress designed by Megan McCann, a member of the Synthetic Coup d'Etat design team at the Beaux Arts Ball on Friday night. Nathan Edwards | Daily Kent StaterLast week I blogged about green fashions and made a plug for the Beaux Arts Ball. Unfortunately, I was out of town and couldn’t make the event, however, many people did, and the ball drew its biggest crowd in years. As a public relations adviser for the ball, I couldn’t be prouder.

The PR plan
The planners of the ball came to us (the Kent State chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America) to help them create awareness to students about the event, and ultimately get more students to attend. According to Lindsey Ray, senior interior design student and one of the event’s planners, one of the biggest misconceptions about the ball was it was only for fashion, architecture and interior design students. So, our biggest advice was to reach out to students through their most commonly used tools.

Our advice (and my Fashion PRinciples for the week):
1. Create a Facebook group. College students LOVE Facebook; it’s the best way to initiate conversation about an event.
2. Reach out to the residence halls. Most students who would attend the ball would live in the residence halls and it was something fun on a Friday night!
3. Put fliers around campus and in the residence halls. While fliers can be redundant and there is always clutter, students still see them, and with the unique flier made by graphic designer students, it was sure to be noticed.
4. Use good old fashioned face-to-face communication. We suggested having some models stand outside the Kent Student Center and hand fliers to students. Unfortunately, it was a little late in the semester, but a good idea for the next ball.
5. Reach out to campus and local media. While local media is not the most direct way to reach students, it’s still a way to get the word out.

The results
According to the article, “‘Salvage’ draws biggest crowd in recent years,” in the Daily Kent Stater:

Ray said this year’s turnout was huge – between 700 and 800 guests, compared to 400 to 500 in previous years. The money from ticket sales is split between each student organization to help support the design programs

Score for our makeshift PR plan! The event planners took our advice and even got some local coverage before the event.The ball was a huge success and hopefully will be even bigger next year.

Environmentally fashionable: how truly going green is the new black

The Beaux Arts Ball 2008Green, green, green. “It ain’t easy” as Kermit says, and it’s the buzz word of the new millennium. At Kent State, we’re all about going green. The Fashion Student Organization, American Institute of Architecture Students and the Interior Design Student Collaborative have dedicated their annual event, The Beaux Arts Ball, to the green movement. The ball combines a fashion show and dance with special attention to the decor. This year’s theme is Salvage, and the students are using all environmentally-friendly materials, donated by local businesses and recycling companies for their garmets, decor and promotions.

Greener Fashions
The fashion industry is also diving into the green movement because of the major innovations the climate change is having on the industry. According to Jo Paoletti, an American Studies professor at the University of Maryland, 

As the impact of global warming is felt, we can anticipate debates over cotton versus polyester, and increasing concern about the water and energy needed to launder clothing. In the future, smart clothing that monitors and adjusts to body temperature may help us reduce our need for air conditioning and heating.

Smart clothing? Sounds like a new, green public relations campaign.

Greener PRactices
Green FashionGreen PR campaigns are definitely a dime a dozen these days. Going green has been the hot topic in many industries, and they want people to know it. Unfortunately, the green theme has become old news. According to James Treece, editor of Automotive News, “the green train has left the station.” Public relations people need to find a newer, more exciting green angle to get their stories printed. They also have to be aware of green washing – claiming to be green while not actually being green. Check out “PRSSA in the D and greenwashing” for more info about greenwashing and about greener public relations.

As for the students running the Beaux Arts Ball, they’re really sticking to their theme. No greenwashing here! They have committed to using greener ways of promoting the event by using Facebook invitations, face-to-face communications, printing fliers on recycled paper and pitching bloggers. So here’s my plug for the Beaux Arts Ball: Fri. Nov. 7 at 8 p.m. in the Ballroom, Kent Student Center. Should be an awesome time!

Here’s my green Fashion PRinciple: Going green should be about the environment, not for a brand boost.

Celebrity Fashion Lines: the brand and bottom line

Celebrities and fashion are an obvious match. They have a “you endorse me, I endorse you” type of relationship. Celebrities have been branding their own fashion lines, perfumes and shoes since the idea of “integrated communications” began. The crossing over of actors and singers to fashion designers and perfumers isn’t a controversial idea, but do you ever wonder, how do these celebrities do it all?

Fashion as a tactic
Jessica Simpson DessertCelebs have been haphazardly slapping their brand on any whos-it and whats-it to get the most exposure as possible. Like in my last post about bad outfits as a strategy, celebrity fashion lines are just another tactic in the world of branding their image. Take a look at Jessica Simpson. She has a shoe line, a brand of hair extensions, a line of delicious lotions called, Dessert, and a new fashion line titled, JS. For a girl who has a mediocre singing career, she certainly is everywhere, but is it really necessary to smell, taste and walk like Jessica Simpson? Why not pick one avenue and do it well?

The PR Twist
In public relations world, too much exposure can be just as bad as too little exposure. Celebrities seem to take their exposure to the max. People eat up the clothes, perfume, shoes and hair of celebrities, but why? They’re actors and singers who have no idea what it takes to be a true designer. Ask any fashion design student. Consumers are incredibly loyal to their fav celebs, but their brand loyalty fades when it’s taken for granted. Hint, hint to celebs: your fans know when you’re being true to you and when you’re being true to the bottom line.

Rachel bilsonSmart moves
Now that the public isn’t impressed with the latest random clothing line, fragrance, etc. , young Hollywood is getting smarter. Pierce Mattie digs a little deeper in its post “The New Celebrity Brand.” For celebs like Justin Timberlake and Rachel Bilson, the brand wasn’t about their celebrity, but about their style.

Here’s a Fashion PRinciple for celebs and their PR people: Be true to you and you’ll have fans for life.

Fashion Disasters: accident or strategy?

During awards seasons, fashion know-it-alls debate the best and worst fashions of the night. Most think the fashion disasters of the night are accidents and unforeseen. But have you ever really wondered why a celebrity – who has access to stylists and fashion experts – would make such huge fashion mistakes?

Any publicity is good publicity
Bjork's Oscar outfitSo the saying goes in the world of celebrity. Every move a celebrity makes is precisely calculated by PR pros to keep their client in the headlines. Their objective is to keep the public talking about them, and they view any kind of exposure is as good exposure. Because exposure is what gets celebrities the big money.Geena Davis gets it wrong at the Oscars.

Accident or strategy?  
Any good PR pro will tell you to always go back to your strategy. Unfortunately, in the celebrity world, it isn’t always a good strategy – i.e. putting your client in a hideous outfit on the biggest night of the celebrity year. But it definitely gets results. I mean looking like a nut job in a swan outfit is a fast and easy way to make headlines. And people are still talking about that outfit today. Thank goodness the rest of the business world doesn’t follow the rules of the celebrity world.

The Point
Celebrities (most of the time) don’t do things on a whim, and their fashion choices aren’t accidents. Their publicists always go back to the objective (get exposure) and strategy (hideous outfit + photo-op) – even though they aren’t always a good idea. So here’s another Fashion PRinciple: Always go back to objectives and strategies – it’s how you get results even in La-La land.