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Stars shine bright in fashion industry

Nothing screams “Wear me now!” like a black micro-mini dress on Rihanna, a pair of sky-high metallic Christian Louboutins on Christina Aguilera, or even a basic white tank top on Lauren Conrad. The minute I have time, (or an extra few bucks) I run to the mall and find the closest match to my fashion obsession of the day, which usually tends to be shoes.


Am I alone in this scavenger hunt? Hardly.


According to this article about celebrity product placement, I’m right where the fashion marketers want me. It states there are three different techniques that offer three different levels of control over placement: gifting the talent, product seeding and barter relationships. Let’s take a closer look at each one, focusing on fashion.


Gifting the Talent


Gifting the talent, a more narrow focus, is when fashion companies give celebrities free gifts as a “thank you” for hosting events, appearing at award shows, etc. Although it’s effective at targeting celebrities, it is hard to measure if they actually use or wear the product.


Product Seeding


Product seeding, a broader focus, is a better way to widely distribute products to celebrities who are most compelling to a targeted demographic. Creativity and appropriate targeting are key here. It can suffer if a strategy isn’t in place, but it can also skyrocket if clothes, shoes and accessories are given to the right celebrity at the right time.


Barter Relationships


Barter relationships, one-on-one focuses, are seen as the only way to guarantee performance on the part of the celebrity because in this circumstance, the celebrity agrees in advance to participate in a marketer’s promotional activities in exchange for a valuable product. Most celebrities will agree to be a part of a campaign in exchange for some designer duds.


A Best Practices Example


Those working for UGG Australia couldn’t have been happier when they saw Jessica Simpson sporting the tall chestnut UGGs during the first season Newlyweds. Although these cozy, sheepskin boots are hardly high-fashion, she started a must-have trend for women of all ages from all parts of the world.



The PR Perspective 


Those outside of the “PR world” will argue public relations and marketing are one in the same – we in the PR industry know better. The gifting the talent, product seeding and barter relationships marketing strategies are dead-on and also proven effective. But they wouldn’t survive without the help of PR professionals and their understanding for one very important thing: relationship building.


Communication equals knowledge. Knowledge equals interest. Interest equals involvement. Involvement equals trust. Trust equals a relationship. Public relations professionals must always keep this in mind when targeting a celebrity for product promotion. If celebrities feel comfortable in this kind of relationship, I think most will be ready and willing to participate. What do you think?


Celebrity clothing lines: establishing fans while building the brand

Question If you’re a celebrity, what can you do to make even more money, explore your creativity and develop a broader fan base?


AnswerStart your own clothing line.

Whether we believe it or not, we’re influenced by celebrities every day. We watch them on TV, listen to their songs on the radio and God forbid, read about them on But above all of that, we are drawn to them because most of these celebrities are fashion icons. We love their hair, their make-up and their expensive designer duds. So it’s only natural they realize this admiration and decide to make a quick buck off of it.

These clothing lines are no best-kept secret, though. Celebrities thought of the idea long ago, but it seems like more and more of them have caught on to the idea and have taken it to the next level. Those at Couture in the City noticed yet another celebrity caught on to the buzz. Everything from the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen and Jessica Simpson lines to Sean “Diddy” Combs’ Sean John and Justin Timberlake’s William Rast brands have reached a variety of consumers nationwide.


Although these five celebrities are five of many who have jumped on the clothing line bandwagon, they all, in my opinion, have three important things in common: they know their consumers, what their consumers want and how to get it to them.


Fashion message vs. PR message


I can’t help but look at these three things from a PR perspective and compare them to our three most important criteria when delivering a message: knowing your audience (consumers) your objectives (what consumers what) and channel (how to get it to them.) These celebrities had to establish these three criteria in order to launch a successful brand just like we in the PR industry must establish our three criteria in order to deliver a message to the appropriate publics.


The Perfect Example


Take Mary-Kate and Ashley, my personal role models since I was 6. These women have captured girls’ attention across the world and have developed one of the strongest fan bases I have ever seen. They knew they could launch a clothing line for tweens (girls ages 7-12) and toddlers and see a positive response. (Knowing the audience)


They also took into consideration what these girls want, so they marketed trendy clothes made for smaller bodies, along with everything from matching headbands to nail polish. (Knowing the objective)


But most importantly, Mary-Kate and Ashley knew they could market their line at Wal-Mart because it was affordable and available to key consumers. (Knowing the channel)


Although launching a successful brand isn’t easy, I’m sure most of these celebrities will tell you it comes down to the basics. I think it’s the same for us in the PR industry. Once you sit down and decide who you want to reach, what you want to accomplish and the best ways to get the word out, the rest will fall into place.


Check out last Christmas’ “Magic of Macys” commercial to see some of the celebrities mentioned above.

Is too much fashion media attention a bad thing?

Project Runway’s Heidi Klum got it right when she said one day you can be “in” and the next day you can be “out” in the fashion industry.


Competition in the fashion industry is fiercer than ever thanks to the never-ending list of fashion-related shows on TV such as Project Runway, America’s Next Top Model and The Rachel Zoe Project. These shows get aspiring designers, models and stylists motivated and excited about pursuing a career in the industry.


But is the excessive spotlight of these shows helping or hindering these peoples’ chances of landing their dream jobs? Looking at it from a PR perspective, I’m not sure. I think it could go either way.


Advantages of Media Attention

Those of us in PR love to talk about the importance of the adoption process, which includes five steps: awareness, interest, evaluation, trial and adoption. For example, we stress the importance of creating awareness about these fashion-related shows as well as job opportunities in the fashion industry. Without the awareness, no one would know these things exist.


We also understand the importance to target those who would have an interest in the subject matter. In this case, these fashion-related shows air on stations like Bravo, MTV and E!, which are primarily viewed by women with interest in fashion, trends, etc. After establishing interest in these shows, women must decide whether they care to participate in the evaluation, trial and adoption stages. If they have an interest in the subject, chances are, they will.


Disadvantages of Media Attention

Although awareness is important, is it possible to have too much of a “good thing?” I’m sure many aspiring designers, models and stylists will tell you it is. With such a large amount of awareness and interest in the fashion industry, those who wish to find work not only have to be extremely marketable and have high skill-levels, but they have to simply find job availabilities that match their needs and wants.


 According to a post on the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site,

Employment of fashion designers is projected to grow 5 percent between 2006 and 2016, more slowly than the average for all occupations. Job growth will stem from a growing population demanding more clothing, footwear, and accessories. Demand is increasing for stylish clothing that is affordable, especially among middle income consumers. However, employment declines in cut and sew apparel manufacturing are projected to offset job increases among apparel wholesalers.

Job opportunities in cut and sew manufacturing will continue to decline as apparel is increasingly manufactured overseas. However, employment of fashion designers in this industry will not decline as fast as other occupations because firms are more likely to keep design work in-house.

Job competition is expected be keen as many designers are attracted to the creativity and glamour associated with the occupation. Relatively few job openings arise because of low job turnover and the small number of new openings created every year.

Many of those seeking jobs in the fashion industry will tell you there is no room for error, and those of us in public relations can empathize. But in the words of Tim Gunn, Project Runway’s design mentor, if people really want a job in the fashion industry, they will do whatever it takes to “make it work.”