How to do Fashion Marketing in Times of Covid
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit during the spring, many fashion companies had to put their advertising campaigns on hiatus. It was no longer possible to hang out with creative teams – directors, photographers, models, etc. – in person, in a studio, or on location. So companies had to get creative quickly.
Some brands decided to send clothes from their new collections to models and influencers, asking them to be creative and to use whatever they had at hand, wishing for the best result. For many brands, this was the first time they gave up creative control to the model or influencer.
In the end, many of these campaigns, although conducted at home, went viral and were very successful. Others, not so much. This has raised a new question in the industry, have brands entered a new era of marketing strategies? And is it worth including this new model in future marketing strategies?
Laura Lanteri, creative director and consultant at LLNYC Worldwide, a global advertising and marketing firm based in New York City, answers this question with a resounding no. She believes that this strategy has a very short life and produces results in terms of metrics, data and active participation in social networks. Laura says: “In my opinion, a campaign is really successful when it becomes part of the day-to-day conversation, when it becomes part of our cultural environment. Influencer marketing doesn’t have the power to do all of that. It all depends on what we decide to focus on: cultural relevance or likes on Instagram ”.
However, with the growth of social media like Instagram, and the ability and access of almost anyone to create content, a real shift in consumer demand has occurred in the last decade. A change that gives more value to a realistic image and narrative, as opposed to the pursuit of perfection, or at least the illusion of perfection, that the fashion industry has fostered for the last century. Laura says it’s a one-way illusion. “Fashion has for decades been the guardian and promoter of highly biased narratives, based on beauty standards centered on the white and European image that can never be achieved. It was built and designed to be unattainable. That was not perfection, but racism and discrimination. People are getting tired of being talked down to in a condescending way and being criticized for a submissive attitude. When people see fashion what they want to see is themselves in a real way, but there is still a long way to go to get to this point ”, emphasizes Laura.
The need to balance reality and perfection in a plural society creates great tension for brands that want to maintain as much control over their positive image as possible, but also want to authentically connect and engage in a two-way conversation with their customers. There are several examples of brands that are at both ends. From the rejection of Chanel to even allow its clients to use its name in social networks, to Marc Jacobs and Burberry that, on the contrary, request and distribute content generated by their clients. This makes us wonder how fashion brands are going to try this new strategy, especially when they try so hard to control the brand’s narrative and ensure that the brand’s DNA is not denigrated. Laura suggests looking at it from another perspective. She says clients will start asking questions like “What is Chanel adding to my life now?” or “Why am I investing in this company? What are they doing for me? And is this brand aligned with my values? ”
In an era driven primarily by cold and hard data, a focus on listening is key for creative directors. And it’s your role to edit and curate the message in a way that makes sense for the brand. Laura emphasizes the following: “I believe that creativity and true originality in thinking will be more important than ever. I think it will be crucial to return to creative roles that are not driven solely by sales forecasts and profit margins, although even this is hard to imagine. The role of the creative director will imply decolonizing the fashion narrative and creating a new language ”.