A Cultural Shift, Fashion Marketing for Athleisure

Over the past few years, “athleisure”—a clothing trend combining athletic wear and casual attire—has taken the fashion world by storm.
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In an article from Business Insider, Dennis Green says that athleisure has changed the fashion industry to the extent of creating an entirely new category of clothing.

The popularity of athleisure reflects a lifestyle change towards health and fitness—a movement spearheaded by millennials.

And as many fashion brands are acknowledging, appealing to this new health-savvy population of fashionistas rather than dissuading them is the trick.

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Any marketing expert can tell you that understanding the audience and its desires is key. Per a Harris poll, 72% of millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences, rather than material things. As athleisure clothing is typically worn for an experience, such as working out or hiking, they are more likely to spend their money on it.

Out of the numerous brands that have caught on to the trend, Lululemon could be considered the pioneer.

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From the start, Lululemon never had to truly change its marketing strategy. Millennials ignited the cultural emphasis on health and wellness, bolstering the marketing success of companies like Lululemon that already had products catering to exercise and outdoor activities.

A mixture of well-established fashion brands and niche brands have answered the athleisure trend. Old Navy and Target offer low-price athleisure gear, while more high-end fashion brands such as Tory Burch have created their own lines of athleisure clothing.

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Meanwhile, smaller brands like Outdoor Voices launched in response to the demand for athleisure products.

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Many speculate it was only during the height of the athleisure craze in 2015 that these other brands began to mimic Lululemon’s marketing practices.

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The beauty is, this trend isn’t just for the millennial demographic. At CBC we’ve worked with female apparel brand Garnet Hill to spotlight their own athleisure line with content that is more than just about the physical piece – it’s about the lifestyle you live while wearing it.

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In our opinion, these companies have the right idea. They appeal to this athleisure-crazed audience by promoting healthy experiences in a comfortable, fashion-focused way.

Using Instagram to strengthen your food brand

Restaurants are constantly facing competition when marketing their brand, but what makes a customer choose them over their competitor?

Many are turning to the social platform Instagram to expand their reach and, likewise, consumers are using the channel to document their own meals (admit it, we’ve all been guilty of whipping out our phones to snap our Instagram-worthy latte and croissant). But not only are people using the photo-sharing network to capture their meals – they’re also using to it to choose where they eat.

Whether you like it or not, this photo sharing app has changed the marketing game for restaurants. Here are some of our tips on how to leverage it.

Everybody loves free stuff

For one popular restaurant located in South Boston, Lincoln, giveaways and campaigns encouraging people to tag their friends for a chance to win gift cards and free meals works like a charm.

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With consistent, engaging promotions, Lincoln has secured a substantial following and will continue to expand their reach.

Network and build your voice

By enlisting the help of social influencers, a restaurant can develop a reputation as a “foodstagram” and engage with a wider audience. A restaurant in NYC, Springbone Kitchen, experienced a surge of customers after a prominent food influencer in the area featured it.

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For one of our brands, Garnet Hill, we helped them to develop a team of established influencers who regularly engage with and show off the brand.

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Influencers speak to an audience of generally thousands and while many are niche (i.e. specific to food, fashion, home, etc.), you can find some who are a jack-of-all-trades lifestyle influencer.

Have a little fun with it

People respond to brands that use humor and relatable content. Create a loud restaurant identity and use social media to play with it.

Outside of the South Boston Loco Taqueria, is a sign that they frequently change with witty sayings and play on words.

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It gives the restaurant a fun, hip persona that can be seen through its 16.1k followers.

Emphasize your heritage

One of the benefits of being a food brand or restaurant is that your heritage matters. Your followers will be interested to know about your history, how you came to be, and your ethics. For Stonewall Kitchen, CBC helped them to celebrate their 25th birthday with a microsite entirely dedicated to their story.BLOOOG

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At the end of the day, our advice to you is to run your brand’s marketing the same way you cook your meals: be creative, have fun, and don’t be afraid to improvise the recipe.

CBC View: A guide to the most successful experiential marketing campaigns (so far)

As a public relations agency with many experiential marketing campaigns under our belt, we’d like to think we’re in a good position to point out some great work by brands and our colleagues at other PR agencies.

For experiential marketing to work, it has to grab your attention. Think about it: Have you ever done something crazy to get someone’s attention in real life? Sometimes it’s the same in marketing – drastic measures in order to differentiate yourself from the sea of similar brands. It can be risky, scary, and very thrilling to pioneer experiential campaigns.

We get it. Our idea to create a mobile boutique from a shipping container for Garnet Hill raised a few eyebrows when it was first floated. But in the end, the campaign was a huge success.

That’s why the campaigns below – all daring and different – hit close to home for us.

 Apple Orchard in the Big Apple

In June 2016, Strongbow apple cider decided they would bring a taste of nature to NYC with a floating garden. In a barge filled with fruits, vegetables and herbs, people reconnected with nature, foraged for their food, and learned about all of the ingredients found in Strongbow’s Cider.

Why we love it: This took Farmer’s Markets to a new level and imprints visitors with a memory for life.

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Big city, tiny house

In May, NESTEA introduced their own tiny house in Herald Square that emulated relaxation, minimalism, and the perfect place to enjoy a glass of iced tea. Their message to consumers: life today is not easy, but NESTEA’s new line of classic teas can help simplify things.

Why we love it: Minimalism is a coveted lifestyle in busy cities like NYC. Kudos to NESTEA for capitalizing on it!

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NEW YORK, NY - MAY 17: Actress Anna Camp launches the new NESTEA in Herald Square at the NESTEA Tiny House on May 17, 2017 in New York City. Designed in part by bloggers Southern Bite, Inspired by Charm, and Hapa Time, the NESTEA Tiny House is unveiled in Herald Square. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images) (PRNewsfoto/NESTEA)

Refueling with a brew

In a refurbished 1952 GMC Coach bus, now known as the High Brew Liner, High Brew Coffee is embarking on a cross country tour. The goal is to pop up in 31 cities for people to try a cup of High Brew’s cold brewed coffee and refuel.

Why we love it: High Brew transformed the vintage bus to speak to an audience of millennials who, according to their research, go nuts for authentic experiences.

BigFoot on the loose

The Bootmobile is a rolling shoe created by L.L. Bean to commemorate it’s 100th anniversary, created for new store openings and promotional events. The bootmobile has been so successful that a new one was made and sent to Japan for their stores.

Why we love it: L.L.Bean took it global and didn’t just section it off for convenience.

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Sweat, hydrate, repeat

In the summer 2016, Propel hosted fitness events to roll out their updated electrolyte rich flavored water. The campaign went viral with the hashtag #LetsGetUgly, in the attempt to negate the glamorous and often unrealistic social media portrayal of people working out. From yoga to boxing, Propel got consumers active and hydrated them with their water.

Why we love it: Propel provided an environment where it’s okay to get sweaty and work hard.

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Touch and Feel

The Garnet Hill Mobile Boutique supported by our PR and creative services team here at Cercone Brown Company, transformed a shipping container into a moveable, shop-able, pop up shop. The revamped shipping container was a unique place for consumers to touch and feel all of the products before buying them.

Why we love it: Garnet Hill allowed their consumers to get to know the Garnet Hill products in a more natural, homelike setting.

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Gone are the days of blanket advertising via commercials and print ads. People want to touch, taste, feel and smell the brand. In other words, an experience.

 

Organic Marketing Through Your Customers

Fragrances are a main revenue source for big name fashion brands, and for good reason – smell is one of the strongest triggers of emotion and memory. But in a digitally-driven world, how do you advertise something intended to be tangible? Unfortunately, you can’t send people scents via iMessage or tag them on Instagram. This is why some brands, like Dior, have resorted to capturing their scent’s essence with the help of big-name celebrities.

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Others, like Armani, emulate their fragrance by setting a mood.

But some brands are taking up organic techniques to compel people to seek out the fragrance. In addition to its primary Instagram, New York-based perfumer Le Labo lets their customers do the talking via an Instagram page specially dedicated to sharing (alleged) real-life customer feedback.

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Along with sharp packaging and cleverly-named products, Le Labo uses Instagram to organically differentiate itself in a market otherwise saturated with inaccessible corporate brands.

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Since many of their secondary Instagram’s posts organically incorporate a narrative about their fragrance and introduce the exorbitant price, they create a powerful reputation without coming off as snobby.

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With over 132k Instagram followers combined between their two Instagram pages, the brand has successfully ensured steady engagement from a global fan base.

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What other brands do you know that employ an organic marketing strategy while still maintaining authenticity?

Escape to Nantucket with CBC’s Summer House

What do you get when you take a group of editors to a gorgeous summer destination and immerse them in a weekend of Instagram-worthy activations hosted by popular brands?

That’s easy. The signature CBC Summer House and one heck of a good time.

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From June 12-22, we invited around 30 editors and influencers from top-tier publications and outlets to spend some time in the sun with us on the beautiful island of Nantucket, MA. Our annual Summer House, part of the CBC House Programs, boasted an itinerary chock-full of delicious meals, adventurous activities, and daily escapes to some of Nantucket’s well-known gems.

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Day 1: Setting sail in Nantucket

CBC gave editors their first sip of the island with a special wine tasting and boat cruise with 90+ Cellars. Open waters and Lila Wines Rosè cans ensured for a memorable kick-off to the weekend – especially with Superfeet shoes and sandles on their feet.

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Born Shoes and Justin Boots closed the evening with a delicious dinner in comfy footwear.

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Day 2: Exploring the island

It wouldn’t be a trip to Nantucket without an iconic lighthouse Instagram pic. After a smoothie breakfast with Dole, we saddled up with Schwinn for a beach bike ride to Sankaty Head Lighthouse.

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Hungry from the day’s exercise, we stopped for some eats and puppy playtime with Nutro followed by a hummus and cocktail hour with Sabra.

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Then, it was time to let loose and play dress-up with the one and only Miraclesuit!

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Day 3: Closed with a cardio kick

A long day before didn’t stop us from getting up bright and early for a HIIT workout with POM Wonderful and fitness instructor/blogger Sarah Fit.

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With the glow of a weekend well-spent, the editors boarded their flights and we closed another successful Summer House. Check out all of the posts via the #CBCSummerHouse hashtag. Interested in leveraging our experiential marketing programs for your brand? Email us!

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Storytelling in the Digital Age

We live in the age of digital storytelling. While social media influences how consumers communicate their personal stories, an advertiser’s job is to harness technology and use it to shape an authentic brand narrative that resonates with the audience.

Digital storytelling is fluid and requires constant self-education. As it evolves quickly (and sometimes unpredictably), brands must engage strategically.

To understand where we are now, we have to look at how digital storytelling has evolved overtime.

The birth of Facebook

When Facebook hit the scene in 2004, users were thrilled to be able to share pieces of their lives in a virtual, easy way.

In 2009, Facebook introduced brand pages for companies to connect with their audience and then enhanced its storytelling offerings in 2011 with the implementation of a timeline, cementing itself as the go-to connection channel.

An example of massive brand success via Facebook is Tasty, the food brand owned by BuzzFeed known for its interactive recipe videos. Their content ensures that users stay on Facebook longer, links to e-comm, and generates ad revenue.

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The Twitter egg hatches

The Twitter bird flew onto the scene in 2006 and started as an outlet for quotes, quick statuses, and celebrity updates. Today, Twitter has transformed into a driver for media, news, and entertainment. It is also used as way to directly connect consumers to brands.

JetBlue effectively uses Twitter for customer service and real-time updates. They make sure that their brand story is all about how well they care for their customers.

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Twitter has remained consistent in its delivery of stories, while its digital counterparts advance according to the demands of a hungry digital audience. But beware, headlines and hashtags are only one piece of the brand story.

Instagram enters the playing field

Instagram capitalized on the visual trend, impacting what people expect to see. Despite its roots, it is no longer just a photo-sharing company.

Its methods of visual communication have evolved tremendously from static images, to short videos, to live and real-time stories.

We at CerconeBrownCompany have embraced this new feature to connect with our own consumer base – brands and potential clients! Our Instagram and Stories are a hub of all the happenings at our House Programs.

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As digital storytelling evolves in accordance with the way consumers communicate, brands will need to exhibit a willingness to experiment and adapt right alongside existing and emerging platforms.

 

 

The CBC guide on how to choose an experiential marketing agency

Experiential marketing is changing how brands interact with consumers by allowing for the opportunity to introduce them to products in an authentic, tactile and memorable way. In turn, this fosters lifelong relationships between brands and their consumers.

At CerconeBrownCompany, we believe that an experience can be a brand’s most valuable offering and has the power to convert a person from a one-time customer into a brand advocate.

Hiring an agency is a wise investment, as one that is successful will create, deliver and share a positive experience on behalf of your brand. But before you sign on the dotted line, review the qualities below to make sure you are selecting the ideal partnership.

Consider your company’s values

Read between the lines of the mission statement and opt for an agency with similar values to your own. Collaborating is more successful when both parties genuinely enjoy working together.

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You can’t do experiential without “experience”

Every agency will admit to spaces that are more in their areas of expertise than others. A quality agency will host a kick-off or strategy session when you first begin work together. It’s not always a deal-breaker if the agency hasn’t worked in your industry before – sometimes a group of people with a proactive, go-getter attitude with experience in getting their hands dirty for their clients is more efficient than anything else.

Creativity is a skill

You wouldn’t buy a car without reading about the reviews and expert opinions, right? It’s no different when selecting an agency. Peruse the agency’s portfolio and see how they’ve brought other brands’ creative visions to life.

For example, CBC hosts a variety of unique House Programs – an opportunity for influential journalists to immerse themselves in unforgettable brand experiences in idyllic settings.

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Communication and accessibility

We totally get it, you are passionate about your brand. The right agency will understand that and do everything they can to keep you in the loop. It is important that you work with a team that is responsive, the direct point of contact, and collaborative.

One way an agency will communicate is through consistent and formalized reporting. At CBC, we report with two different platforms: TrendKite for public relations and Brandwatch for social and digital.

 What are your goals?

If you’re looking into experiential marketing, it’s likely you have specific business objectives in mind. Whether it’s growth or overall brand amplification, make sure the agency understands your goals and is proactive about addressing them in their proposal. If you are upfront and direct about your goals, you will better identify the agency that will best fit your needs.

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Inhouse vs outsource

Why look somewhere else for an asset you might have right in front of you? An agency with a photographer, designer, and creative director in-house is a bonus because it means they have the all of the essential tools readily available. Agencies who want to outsource talent require extra time, money and resources.

Stalk on social

You know the old adage “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Check out how the agency presents itself on their own social posts – if you see a strategy or unique quality in their digital presence, that’s a good indication they will power up their client’s channels too.

For example, we at CBC are strategic in our social approach, pumping up our Twitter feed with daily industry news and coloring our Instagram feed with the happenings in our House Programs.

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There are certainly many other traits to take into consideration when picking the best experiential marketing agency. What are the qualities you look for in an agency?

Damage Control: Crisis Communication in a Constantly Connected World

Social media has revolutionized the way brands function. Messages reach a larger demographic, consumers engage more often, and news hits the stands before it’s even fact-checked.

But let’s just say it: not all sharing is constructive. And if there’s one thing that permeates the digital space faster than the latest Kardashian scandal, it’s brand controversy. Even a relatively small issue can erupt into vicious global outrage.

There’s no real science to definitively avoiding one, but how can brands use social media as a way of managing an impending crisis?

Separating business from pleasure

It’s social media 101 to take extra when managing a business channel. However, mistakes happen. The American Red Cross took quick action when an employee mistakenly posted a personal tweet to the company’s Twitter page instead of their own.

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The Red Cross quickly removed the tweet and in response posted:

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Often times, responding in a genuine and even humorous way can diffuse the crisis. It might even help a brand’s exposure – the #gettingslizzard hashtag spun off to become a positive message to donate blood.

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Takeaways:

  1. Respond immediately
  2. Openly accept responsibility
  3. Use social media management tools such as Hootsuite to mitigate accidental posting

An automatic “no-no”

We can all agree: it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with an endless stream of real-time conversations. But that doesn’t mean brands should give in to taking the easy way out.

Progressive Insurance proved that this is never the right course of action after a “robo-tweet” Twitter mishap. It started when people accused the company of defending one of its insurance holders in court after he killed a young girl.

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The company did not respond directly but rather used a robot with an auto response when prompted.

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Takeaways:

  1. Silence does not resolve an issue
  2. Be human, compassionate and authentic in your response
  3. Directly communicate with consumers

Removing political ties

Crisis communication has touched most agencies, including CBC. When our client, Garnet Hill’s, advertisements were unknowingly featured on the highly controversial website Breitbart, we took immediate action.

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CBC instantly removed the ad and Garnet Hill was praised by hoards of social users.

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Takeaways:

  1. Constant monitoring of social channels to prevent the spread of bad press
  2. Stay neutral in politics
  3. Listening to your audience’s requests pays off

As many of us know, crises happen. Effective communication and management, as well as a plan to mitigate, can turn a negative into a positive.

Or, at the very least, extinguish the fire as it starts.

(In)Authentic Marketing in the Age of the Influencer

Casey Neistat is a YouTube influencer and vlog pioneer.  With cinematic shots and clear narrative lines, his high-quality daily vlog has been a breath of fresh air in a genre filled with shaky selfie-like shots. Moreover, Neistat has built himself a loyal audience from the ground-up; one that follows his recommendations devotedly and takes his word on different products as the undying truth.

Digital influencers like Casey are the ticket in for successful marketing campaigns. In fact, MuseFind revealed that 92 percent of consumers trust an influencer more than a celebrity endorsement or traditional advertisement. With that, companies are doing everything they can to foster these unicorn relationships as a way to build loyalty with consumers.

Earlier this year, Samsung recruited Neistat to be the face of their “Do What You Can’t” campaign, to position the Galaxy S8 as the device to have in today’s creator-driven landscape. The campaign celebrates everyday people who use social media and new technology to shape their careers.

Samsung’s choice to solicit an influencer was understandable; however, how valuable a choice was it? Historically, Neistat is a loyal and vocal fan of Apple – a major rival to Samsung with a reputation for innovation.

Neistat’s following responded to the Samsung partnership negatively, saying it wasn’t the authentic story. Perhaps Samsung made a bet that the benefits of Neistat’s endorsement and the exposure would outweigh the questions the partnership begs. But evidence of that can’t be found in the comments of Neistat’s video.

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Unnatural brand and influencer partnerships can tarnish an image. Comments from Samsung’s Oscar ad are pretty mixed, but the animosity towards Neistat for working with Samsung centers on him “becoming a sellout”. As Neistat once said, “The key to cool is that you shouldn’t have to tell someone you’re cool.” Seems like Samsung wasn’t listening. That said, the entertainment industry is changing, and the line between marketing and entertainment is blurring. Many influencers have started launching their own brands using platforms like YouTube, allowing them to control their own image and ensure everything they endorse remains authentic.

Jeffree Star is one example of this kind of self-made influencer. Originally a makeup artist, Star began his climb to top-tier influencer as a Myspace musician and makeup/beauty vlogger. A few years ago, he launched an eponymous cosmetics line.

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Star also uses his products to secure trust and strengthen his brand’s image.

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And that feedback loop has led to immense commercial success for Star, who now employs over 100 people. Star almost never partners with anyone; however, when he does, it’s either his best friend or a brand he truly believes in, allowing him to ensure his image and messaging are consistent. As Samsung proved with Casey Neistat, all of this matters when fans are loyal to their influencers and can recognize an inauthentic partnership.

When brands and influencers partner, both need to make sure their actions and essence align. Audiences can smell inauthenticity a mile away, and you can bet they’ll have something to say about it.

Why the Louise Delage Campaign Went Viral

We live in the age of information; an era that gave birth to the World Wide Web, online messaging, and social media.

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More and more, brands are expected to keep up with digital trends when it comes to connecting with their audiences, oftentimes relying on tried-and-true approaches.

But every so often, one brand will do something completely unexpected and disrupt the digital space.

One such brand is Addict Aide, a French organization that empowers progress in the fight against addiction.

Their 2016 campaign Like My Addiction featured Louise Delage, French socialite who had it all: glamour, wealth, style … and a drinking problem? In every one of her pictures, she held a drink. Not one of her followers noticed.

Little did her fans know, she was an actress devised by Addict Aide as part of a campaign to bring awareness to alcohol addiction.

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Below we have dissected the science behind this viral campaign using an online persona and created some takeaways for your next disruption.

 

Do your homework

Underneath the seemingly simple social posts was a data-driven scheme. The creators identified their audience before the launch, studied the influencers within that space, and designed a character that would appeal to the targeted demographic.

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They also used standard strategies such as posting at high-traffic times, networking with influencers, and sourcing trending hashtags.

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Fake it ‘till you make it

To keep “her” audience unaware, Louise Delage posted content that was relevant, attractive, and enviable. While the alcoholic beverages were conspicuous, the images crafted a realistic storyline that didn’t seem out of the ordinary.

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Blending in with the crowd

Users are accustomed to an Instagram feed of idealized and fantastical photos from their favorite influencers – a space that already makes it difficult to quickly distinguish reality from fiction. Louise Delage successfully played the part of “the girl women want to be and men want to be with”. She evoked jealousy and longing, sentiments that led to her reaching 50k followers in just a few weeks.

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Close with a bang

The big reveal came in a short video; one that disrobed the campaign and presented the concept that you never know when someone is suffering from addiction, even when it’s right in front of your face. Addict Aide closed its campaign in a simple, informative, and nonjudgmental way.

 

The Like My Addiction finale video garnered more than 1 million views and was featured in prominent publications. Most importantly, the creators achieved their objective. Louise was more than just an interesting marketing tactic – she was a living, breathing representation of the company’s mission.

When done wisely, an alternate identity or other disruptive use of digital marketing can help to prompt brand awareness. Just remember: what you see on social media may only show a fraction of the truth.