Inner Fashionista, Marketing for Thought

J.Crew’s Ludlow Suit #travels

J.Crew proves that incongruent campaigns and timeless style are the perfect match for selling men’s suits

Recently, J.Crew has been KILLING it on social media, and their #LudlowTraveler Instagram featuring American film director and YouTube phenomena Casey Neistat is no exception.

Two weeks ago, J.Crew released snapshots depicting Casey Neistat  decked in a Ludlow travel suit while combatting the elements via Instagram tagged #LudlowTraveler. From snowboarding to surfing, Casey Neistat was shot just about anything, proving that it is possible to be stylish in any situation and that suits aren’t just for the office.

The Ludlow suit is a retro-yet modern, trendy at professional statement and what many would call a staple to the young male’s wardrobe.

“People say that if you’re a drug addict, you have a sixth sense about who would want to party with you—people who wear Ludlows maybe know who else would own a Ludlow. It’s become that kind of club.” -Mike Vilensky, Reporter for the Wall Street Journal 

This recent Instagram campaign is ideal for their target audience: young male professionals who are adventurous and curious. As much as they enjoy their “I work in Midtown” or “I summer in the Hamptons” bragging rights, they still have that inner schoolboy “let me jump on random things even dressed nicely” attitude. Despite this, many of these men are buying suits on their own for the first time in their lives. Ludlow suits give these guys the look and feel of a tailored, made-for-you suit without an expensive trip to the iconic, wood-walled and Tim Gunn-esq tailor.

Not to mention, the entire aesthetic of the campaign is very, very cool. Definition of bad ass if you ask me. The medium is immediate and relatable for the target audience, and the content has an incongruent factor, forcing the viewer to process the Casey’s outfit of choice in conjunction with the action being performed. Who wouldn’t want to own this look?




Exploring Europe, Inner Fashionista

Reasons to love J.Crew’s latest Instagram contest

How Instagrams of wearing, rolling and pairing their favorite denim gives J.Crew inside looks at their costumer’s behaviors

Within the past year, Instagram has taken the world by storm. Its visual stimulation paired with its aesthetically pleasing filters has made it the ideal medium for social posting for many today-especially fashion enthusiasts. People buy clothes for many reasons, but people who shop at specific labels and spend a considerable amount on their clothes shop for two main reasons: to look good and to feel good. Whether they are trotting the streets of New York or driving their kids to soccer practice, these people dress and act like the world is their runway and they want to make the best impression possible.

People who shop at J.Crew are no stranger to this sensation and that’s why this Instagram contest is right up their alley.

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The Instagram contest, #JCrewDenim, challenged J.Crew fans to photograph how they wear and where they wear their favorite J.Crew denim. A few of the entries shared on J.Crew’s official Instagram account depicted beach scenes, mountain views, bed snuggles, neon outfits and even jumping kids.

This was not only an easy contest for people to enter, but it also gave J.Crew a lot of insight on how their customers wear their J.Crew denim. From these Instagrams, they now know what types of tops and looks people try to go for with different pairs of jeans and what kinds of settings and occasions their jeans are being worn it. It gives a lot of other J.Crew fans ideas and it gives J.Crew itself ideas on how to market and make their jeans. From design to store windows, J.Crew now has a better idea of what their customer’s are looking for from their jeans.

Who better to seek information from than the customer themself?



Marketing for Thought

Social celebrities take center stage in Target and H&R Block campaigns

Target and H&R Block are redefining the meaning of celebrity collaborations. Each of the brands have partnered with top Pinterest users and YouTube sensations in their most recent product developments and  marketing campaigns, capitalizing off of the popularity of social media and its ability to identify and interact with consumers.


Target is no stranger to product collaborations. From Missoni to Philip Lim, Target has partnered with several famous fashion designers to produce product lines that reflect the designer’s aesthetic and taste but sold at a more modest price.  Each of these collaborations were extremely successful, leading to Target’s website crashing and merchandise is certain locations being sold out within an hour. Then again, who wouldn’t love designer clothes, shoes and home goods at a good price?

This time, Target’s recent collaboration isn’t with a famous European designer, but design bloggers and Pinterests users with followings between 2 million and 13 million.

The chosen designers,  Joy Cho of Oh JoyJan Halverson of Poppytalk and Kate Arends of Wit + Delight have teamed up with Target to produce party goods. Target’s idea to work with well-known deisgn bloggers and Pinterest users is a stroke of genius. By teaming up with users with large followings, Target is aligning itself with an aesthetic that millions of women already love. 

H&R Block 

Who says taxes and music don’t go together? H&R Block is challenging the boring stigma of doing your taxes and marketing the celebratory feeling of getting a tax refund. With the help of agency 360i, H&R Block created a record label called Billion Back Records that uses 10 YouTube sensations including Pomplamoose and iJustine as brand ambassadors. Through original songs lyrics and social media, this tax preparation company hopes to attract young adults through the excitement of tax returns.

Through utilizing social media and partnerships with YouTube stars, H&R Block is positioning itself with a younger audience and becoming a more relatable brand. No one enjoys doing their taxes, especially young adults, but by focusing their marketing on the end result of tax returns, they are reminding them of the joy and satisfaction post process.

Why Social Celebs

Everyone loves a good star-studded performance. The public eats up movies like Valentines Day and He’s Just Not Int You because they feature 10+ highly recognizable actors. They love feeling like they can relate to celebrities and socialites because they use the same products or react to situations in a similar manner. But the public also loves when a product or service identifies with them personally, especially when they see average people like them collaborating with Target or making original music for H&R Block. It’s something that is familiar to us because we have seen them or heard of them through social media, but also because we’ve had the ability to interact with them.

As social media gains more traction, companies won’t have a choice but to incorporate its channels and its own celebrities into their marketing mix. Those who don’t choose to identify with their consumers or engage them online will not exist in years to come.

Inner Fashionista, Marketing for Thought

Perfect vs. Natural: The battle between Photoshop, fashion and millennials

From Photoshop scandals to trending exercises endorsing “thigh gaps” and “bikini bridges,” the media is no stranger to manipulating beauty.

Target recently fell into this Photoshop-gone-wrong category with an over-edited “thigh gap” on a bikini model. Along with the removal of the photo from their website, they issued a public apology for the editing but this didn’t halt bloggers or Tweeters from unloading their anger and disgust across the web.


Millennials’ addiction and constant accessibility to technology and social media is a double edged sword. This is the first time in decades where not only celebrities are voicing their disgust, but the public, their target audiences, also have a platform to preach their feelings and take a stance. They’ve taken to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, blogs, etc., backlashing over-edited magazine covers and advertisements that directly reflect what society should think beautiful is. At the same time, they are more prone to seeing these images. With every login to social media or every click browsing the internet, there is no escape. Images of models and celebrities are everywhere, and even if they know the pictures are thinned, cropped, tanned and chopped, it doesn’t stop anyone from taking a look at their own body and drawing differences. It is easy to say that so and so’s thighs on the cover of a magazine are larger in real life, but it is harder to stop yourself from criticizing your own after a mere glimpse of the picture.

Several brands have addressed these issues through promoting natural and inner beauty by ditching stick thin models and instead featuring “real” women in advertisements and marketing campaigns.

Aside from Dove’s famous Real Beauty campaign, the personal care mega-house has continued to redefine beauty through videos and workshops. Last April, Dove released a video documenting an experiment that exposed the way that woman look at themselves. In the video, a former forensic artist from the San Jose police department sketched two headshots of a group of women: one based solely on descriptions of themselves, the other based on descriptions they gave of each other. The first sketch was harsher and uglier, proving that they were hard on themselves. The second was truer and prettier, showing that sometimes the things they disliked about themselves were what others found most beautiful. This January, Dove released a similar video featuring selfies of young students and their mothers.

Each of these videos highlights a major marketing implication: the importance of relating to your consumer. The fashion and beauty industry is stereotypically superficial and capitalizes off of perfecting appearances. Sex appeal and perfect looks do sell, but differentiating your brand by relating to your customer’s insecurities has paid off for companies like Dove. When consumers buy a product today, they aren’t paying for just a tangible object. They are looking for relationships with their brands, not just to be “sold.” They follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. They are your friend and want to relate to you; the more alike you are to them, the more likely they will stick around. While I for one am not offended by the use of models in advertisements or campaigns, it is disturbing to me that there has been a need to edit photographs for people who were essentially hired based on their looks and weight.

Aerie is one of many brands steering clear of Photoshop-mishaps by promoting a more natural, real image. Their  “#AeirieREAL” campaign ditches all stick-thin, “perfect” models and solely features regular, “real” girls. By incorporating a plethora of body types, Aerie is reaching out to a variety of consumers. In reality, not every girl has the same shapes or proportions, so by showcasing their products on different types of models they are proving that anyone can look good and feel good in Aerie.



A standard of beauty is formed by the media and entertainment industry, but it doesn’t have to be. The more millenials that take a stand, the greater challenge brands face to meet our expectations. Who would want to buy a product where the even the model has to be edited to look good in it anyways?

Marketing for Thought

Kids say the darnest things

For the past two summers I have babysat for the same family in the town where I grew up.  I spent hours playing games, coloring, riding bikes, going on adventures, and watching cartoons with  the 7 year old girl and 3 year old boy, and every night without a doubt I would come home exhausted but with plenty of stories.

Everyone, even if they have only been around a kid below the age of ten for five minutes, can tell you that they say the most ridiculous, innocent, and thought-provoking things we will ever hear in our lives.  While I was babysitting on my 19th birthday, the young boy told me I was so old that when I was his age there were no GPS’s in cars. Another time, I was greeted by him on the front lawn, riding his bike without training wheels for the first time.  I asked him how it had happened so fast- just last week he had his training wheels on.  He told me that he was training to be in the Olympics.

Their innocence, curiosity, and carefree spirit paired with their non-filtered dialogue is what pulls at our heart strings.  It makes us melt. It makes us think of things in a new way, a different light.

How have marketers used this to get their messages across? Here are two of my favorite examples from this past year:

Soulpancake: Kid President Pep Talk

We watched this in my Integrated Marketing Communications class. I still melt.  His enthusiasm, speech inflexion, and perspective makes me smile and stay engaged the entire video.

Extra Mile: 10 year old teaches college guys to be gentleman

This one came up in my Facebook feed yesterday. Once again, these are simple calls to action: be nice, treat a girl nicely, pay for her dinner, pull out her chair, open the door, take long walks and talk, be a gentlemen, and ultimately be a nice guy.  Coming from a little kid though makes it mean even more.

Why do these videos work?  As we get older, we forget the little things.  Kids reminding us to make a change, be happier, or be a nicer guy, prove that these are simple things that we haven’t adopted into our lifestyles. Hearing it through this communication channel makes it even more effective than someone older telling us “the right thing to do.”

A couple weeks ago, we read as a class David Williamson’s “Marketing & Communications in Nonprofit Organizations,”  and he discusses in his cause marketing guidelines the importance of identifying the appropriate vehicle and combination of tools for delivering your message. This ties directly with knowing your audience.  He used the example of the “Truth” anti-smoking campaigns that use real facts and smokers to deter teenagers from smoking instead of authority figures.  This audience was not receptive to their parents, teachers, or other authoritative figures saying “don’t smoke” and needed to see the message in another manner.  The Kid President and the Extra Mile video use this same tactic- hearing what we should be doing from someone we don’t see as “above us.”

Plus, don’t you think they are just precious?

Marketing for Thought

One Ad, Two Messages

How can one ad contain two completely different messages?  I’m not talking puns- I’m talking actual wording and meaning.

ANAR, the Aid to Children and Adolescents at Risk Foundation in Spain, has found a way.  Their recent ad campaign launched this past week and utilizes lenticular “top layer” technology that allows viewers of different heights to see different messages.  If you are below 4 feet 5 inches (the average height of a child), the ad you will see is a picture of a young boy with bruises and a message that reads “If somebody hurts you, phone us and we will help you” along with the foundation’s phone number.  Any taller than this and you will see a message that says “sometimes child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it.”  This is taking social responsibility and directness to a whole new level.

The goal here is to provide a communication channel where the foundation can offer their help to abused children even if their aggressor is walking with them on the street.  Adults won’t be able to see the message, but any child walking past it will.

I think this is a brillant initiative that not only brings awareness to the foundation and child abuse, but also provides a direct message in what was originally conceived a safe channel.  That being said, I agree with most when saying that launching YouTube videos and announcing the campaign online takes away from it’s effectiveness. Now all adults, including aggressors, know what the true message of the ad says.


Inner Fashionista, Marketing for Thought

How to create a fashion following

How J.Crew became a fashion powerhouse by reinventing preppy chic and integrating all of their marketing initiatives


Recently I have been obsessed with J. Crew.  Yes, I have jumped on this bandwagon late, considering the countless fashion blogs obsessed and dedicated to J. Crew.

My obsession goes beyond the variety of chambrays, bold stripes, and playful lobster and sail boat prints. I idolize their runway preppy chic, but my current obsession stems from their CEO Mickey Drexler and President Jenna Lyons.  Within the past ten years they have created a fashion power house- a fashion following if you will- that has stepped up and reinvented “preppy,” so drastically different than the way it was when I was growing up.

Not only have the clothes taken a full 360, but so has their entire aesthetic and image.

For the past two weeks I have been researching Mickey Drexler for a leadership paper for my management class at Elon, and one thing that the President Jenna Lyons told Fast Company struck me:

“There were a lot of really talented people, but they were all doing their own thing, and it looked like it. [J. Crew] was bifurcated and fractured. It didn’t come together.”

And she was so spot on.  Researching for our ABAN marketing strategies project this semester made me realize how vital it was for a brand-especially in the fashion industry- to have a cohesive, strong, image on every platform they present themselves.  Everything needs to look in unison and on the same page.  If even one outlet is slightly different, it deters from the power of their image.

the fabulous J. Crew President and fashionista Jenna Lyons,

the fabulous J. Crew President and fashionista Jenna Lyons,

Mickey Drexler and Jenna Lyons revolutionized J. Crew’s clothing lines and overall fashion identity, but they also took the initiative to unite all of J. Crew’s communication channels. According to Fast Company, “Lyons believed that to create a coherent brand and drive the business forward, every piece of the creative organization–from retail to catalog to web–had to be unified”; and that is exactly what Lyons did.

Everything got a facelift- the retail stores, website, and monthly catalog.  Similar to Mickey Drexler’s  “everything is in the details” philosophy  Lyon’s pours over every detail of every cashmere and every website link.

One of the most important focuses Lyons had was uniting the website and catalog into one cohesive force.  She told Fast Company that originally their were different teams of merchandisers working on the catalog from the website- and it annoyed her that you could tell.  They didn’t have the same feel or style whatsoever.

Going on J. Crew’s website or receiving one of their catalog’s in the mail, you can tell that has changed.  Whether you are clicking through online or flipping through the pages at home, you instantly feel like you are looking through a glamourous fashion magazine.  They have their own identity  they own styling.  They use clever headings like “pops of polka dots” and professional editorial photo shoots in exotic locations.  You don’t feel like you are being sold products, but instead like they are presenting you with a new look and all of the means of achieving it.

As much as I love shopping online, I ADORE their catalog.  Despite the demise of mail promotions, J. Crew has found a brillant way to keep their monthly catalogs fresh and at the forefront of their marketing campaign with over 40 million copies distributed every year.  Renamed “J. CrewThe Style Guide,” their new catalog takes their website a step further by showing new and improved ways to pair and wear your favorite J. Crew items.  The Style Guide has even been praised by fashion bloggers including A piece of Toast.

So, why do print catalog’s still work? Because the J. Crew customer wants the availability of fashion at every outlet:

“Our twenty-something customer makes little delineation between channels.  She or he enjoys viewing our catalogue online, in her mailbox or on his phone, so we make sure our fashion is always available no matter where our customers want to view it,” Express CMO Lisa Gavales said. “That said, we haven’t seen any virtual viewing work as well as a good, old fashioned paper catalog.”

Clearly something is working- since Drexler became CEO in 2003, annual revenue has more than tripled to $2.2 billion.  



This post is a part of a series of posts for Integrated Marketing Communications class that explores strategies of integrated marketing communications and recognizes strong and weak branding strategies today.