February 28, 2024

Advertising: Fashion Week Includes Marketers on 4 Wheels

Plastered with logos — and offering free food, cosmetics samples or mini-makeovers — cars and trucks sponsored by brands have become almost as ubiquitous during the past week’s events as five-inch heels.

The car craze reflects the newest tactic in the years-old tradition of guerrilla marketing, where brands try to grab attention during a big event without paying for official sponsorships.

Why cars? Something that can move around is a little easier to get away with as official sponsors and event sites turn aggressive about protecting their turf. And it can be a lot cheaper than ponying up for a sponsorship, or paying to rent and transform a fixed location.

“For companies that we’ve worked with that do multimillion-dollar sponsorship events, there’s a lot of thought that goes into controlling against ambush marketing,” said Linda Goldstein, chairwoman of the advertising, marketing and media practice at the law firm Manatt, Phelps Phillips.

“Sponsors are increasingly demanding of the property owners that they provide protections against ambush or guerrilla marketers,” Ms. Goldstein said. “Here, you’re in public streets so it would be more difficult to prevent. You can’t police all the highways.”

Last week’s Fashion’s Night Out brought a fleet of trucks and cars from brands that didn’t want to be tied to a specific store location. A Manolo Blahnik truck offered milkshakes, and a Vera Wang truck handed out ice cream and samples. While it used a vintage ice cream truck, the nail-polish brand Color Club offered a range of its colors rather than the dairy treat. The French skincare company Votre Vu went one bigger and used an Airstream to carry French can-can girls and a contortionist as it promoted its products.

Cars at Fashion Week include one with a giant golden hairspray can on top of it, from L’Oréal’s Elnett brand. Band-Aid and the designer Cynthia Rowley sponsored a “Glambulance” where passers-by can get custom designed bandages, along with a makeup or hair touch-up.

The makeup company Urban Decay was handing out special flavors of Eddie’s Pizza from its spot at the edge of Lincoln Center, including slices that reflect its makeup palettes, like “The Naked” and “The Smokey.” Asked if the stereotypical weight-conscious fashion editor would indulge in pizza over lunch, Wende Zomnir, the founding partner and executive creative director of Urban Decay, said she was hopeful.

“It’s Eddie’s, so it’s kind of low calorie but super-high-flavor pizza,” she said.

Ms. Zomnir said the truck set her brand apart from other makeup companies involved in Fashion Week. “We view ourselves as an edgy brand, so we’re always looking to do unique things — we didn’t want to just throw stuff in a goodie bag,” she said. “It’s a food-truck moment. It seems relevant and edgy and modern.”

“It was our way to get in people’s faces, be a part of Fashion Week and engage people because we’re feeding them lunch,” she said. “To be honest, we’re not MAC or Maybelline. We’re a good-size brand now, but we’re not a behemoth, so it’s a great way for us to stay true to who we are, and we’re still talking to our customers in a grass-roots way.”

L’Oréal has taken its Elnett car to the Fashion Week sites, but has also been going to touristy areas like Times Square as the runway shows take place, said Nathalie Kristo, senior vice president for marketing at L’Oréal Paris USA.

“It will appeal to fashionistas and women that love to style their hair and that are inspired by Fashion Week, but it’s also targeted to the mass public. That’s why we wanted to go to some places that have high traffic,” Ms. Kristo said.

Like Urban Decay, L’Oréal intends to get people interacting with the brand, not just getting samples.

“What was really important with this initiative was to allow consumers to touch and feel this brand. This is a really unique hairspray, and to give them the idea to engage with the product, and try it, is really what was behind this initiative,” she said. Visitors to the truck can meet L’Oréal stylists, use the product and get hairstyling tips, along with a sample and a coupon.

And because even a car with a hairspray bottle on top is still a car, L’Oréal does not have to get any permits or approvals to park the car. “I haven’t heard of any difficulties we have had parking outside of those venues,” Ms. Kristo said. “It’s actually fairly easy.”

Marketing experts said that despite the ease of guerrilla marketing with the vehicles, official sponsorships still made sense for some brands.

“Being on the outside is good for challenger brands, for sure, but for category leaders, being on the inside still has a much different value,” said Tom Lindell, managing director of Exponent PR, a public relations firm that has worked on Fashion Week events. “If you’re trying to target the people who attend Fashion Week, I don’t know that you can do it very well even on the outside.”

Ideeli, a flash-sale site that is an official sponsor, said it wanted the imprimatur of the official role.

“We thought doing it within the context of Fashion Week was a way for us to support brand partners in general and the fashion community at large,” said David Manela, senior vice president for strategic marketing at Ideeli.

“I’m not disturbed. I can understand that if your objectives are different, then it may be more or less annoying,” he said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=60c84c5f21d92917d4051795222a72c0

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