If you saw your Instagram feeds explode with this paisley-print Lord & Taylor dress recently, there’s good reason for it. 50 high profile fashion bloggers were enlisted by the brand to style the dress as a highly memorable debut to the new fashion-forward line, Design Lab. Each influencer was selected “based on her aesthetic and reach,” reports Lord & Taylor CMO Michael Crotty. Aside from being gifted the dress in exchange for an #OOTD snapped on Instagram, it’s unknown what amount of compensation each blogger received.
The logic behind the marketing campaign?
According to Crotty, the logic behind flooding our feeds with this dress was to ignite conversation. He says, “The goal was to make [the viewer] stop in her feed and ask why all her favorite bloggers are wearing this dress and what is Design Lab?” He adds, “Using Instagram as that vehicle is a logical choice, especially when it comes to fashion.”
Lord & Taylor Gets Creative With Their Influencer Marketing
While brands are guilty of getting caught up in vanity metrics – such as Instagram likes and pageviews – this campaign appears to be a sold out success…and only within a few days of the Instagram campaign blitz. Not only that, Lord & Taylor created some serious awareness around the debut of their new, more fashion-forward line. We have to give the brand big props for staying memorable by getting into the feeds where their customers frequent the most. In fact, through this one marketing effort alone they generated at least 20 articles in the media. Now that sounds like some serious buzz considering we are just talking about a paisley print dress.
Many of these Instagram posts had more than 1,000 likes each, with several surpassing 5,000 and some reaching even 13,000. As far as commenting goes, the most successful post generated a whopping 296 comments!
It should be noted that more and more brands are going the sponsored social route because it’s a less expensive way to expose their brand to many potential customers through highly influential bloggers. More importantly, it surfaces in the feeds of customers looking for inspiration. For fashion in particular, Instagram is a huge source of inspiration and the catalyst to many purchases.
Unfortunately the campaign wasn’t just a blitz of boho-chic Instagram #OOTD’s though…there was one little catch. The brand and its content creators didn’t disclose that they were running or participating in a paid promotional campaign by indicating #ad or #sponsored in the Instagram posts. While this seems intrusive for brands and bloggers to follow, the FTC requires the disclosure to follow the content, whether it be in a blog post, social media or otherwise. That way the consumer is armed with all the information and can make an informed purchasing decision – not a blind one as a result of sponsored content.
There are a lot of people and media buzzing about the fact that Lord & Taylor violated FTC guidelines but we do admit that their campaign was still highly successful and also served as a good reminder. The following statement was disclosed to MarketingLand by a Lord & Taylor spokesperson: “We are proud of this campaign and our partnerships but want to reiterate that our influencers were compensated by Lord & Taylor, as is customary in these types of programs. We are always looking for ways to improve our process and communications with our customers. We look forward to continuing to build great marketing campaigns.”
According to Martin Beck of MarketingLand, some of the Instagram posts have been edited to include disclosures, like this one post that generated over 13,000 likes and 124 comments. Good thing Instagram lets you edit your captions now or we have to question if these posts would have been deleted…after all, no one is trying to bark up the wrong tree…like an FTC backlash!
Nylon did a nice spread on the campaign, featuring the majority of those 50 Instagrammers in their slideshow. Two of those Instagrammers just happen to work for Nylon too. They stated on their website, “Every season, there's one collection that you see everywhere—and yet, instead of getting sick of it, you lust after it until one day, you finally cave in and get it for yourself.”
Lord & Taylor and its content creators aren’t the only ones to go against FTC guidelines, especially when it comes to the social media space. When big brands break the guidelines though, it’s a bigger problem because they get a lot more attention. If the FTC decides to crack down, everyone would be affected. With that said, we all have to do our best to make the right disclosure decisions.
While we do admit that the hashtag #ad or #sponsored can feel awkward on social media, it by no means minimizes the effects of campaigns. In fact, these campaigns, without a doubt, garner just as much engagement. People follow a blogger because they love their content; armed with this influence, readers and viewers won’t really be bothered by the disclosure. They will be too caught up in wanting that paisley print dress. They will know that their favorite bloggers are only posting content that they really love anyways and just happen to be making a living at it (good for them). It’s up to the industry as a whole to follow the suggested guidelines – that includes brands, PR agencies and content creators – and with time this type of disclosure won’t be such a huge deal. Plus, informing your audience is just the right thing to do. In fact, if you don’t disclose and your audience catches on, you will lose instant trust and credibility, two qualities that bloggers live by.
And let’s face it, disclosed or not, who didn’t want that boho babe dress? We were only inspired by 50 different ways to style it!!
What do you think of the Lord & Taylor campaign? What lessons can you take away from the entire blitz? Planning your own social media blitz? Get in touch with our team to see how we can help!