Brands as staid as Comcast and Home Depot use Twitter to interact with consumers, and now a decidedly risqué brand has stepped up its social media game in time for Valentine's Day. British lingerie maker Agent Provocateur, through agency StrawberryFrog, began using Twitter in December, employing the platform in tandem with a blog launched around the same time, in addition to timely Web video.
Unlike many company- and brand-related blogs and Twitter accounts, the Agent Provocateur approach indicates a distinct persona, akin to the brand and its products. Olivia, described by StrawberryFrog founder and CEO Scott Goodson as "a writer who is steeped in the Agent Provocateur culture," embodies the brand as its blogger and Twitter mistress.
"[A]nyone happen to have a sign-in for bedposted.com that they wouldn't mind letting me use? id be very appreciative. like to check it out," noted a recent Twitter post. Bedpost is a new Web app allowing users to track their sex lives. According to Goodson, the agency is going for "online literature that provokes the mind [and] stimulates thought and actions."
The HelloAgentProvocateur.com blog recently included a post featuring a chart of exciting and mood-killing things to say during sex. Another recent post actually suggested that it's okay not to spend money to celebrate Valentine's Day. Citing a Consumer Reports poll finding that half of respondents planned to spend less for the holiday, the post noted, "Now, isn't that some good news? When the times get tough, the tough have sex."
Of course, the ultimate goal is to sell frilly under-things. An Agent Provocateur Valentine's Day video on YouTube features model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and has been viewed over 7,000 times since it was posted two weeks ago. In the clip, the slender blonde sets her man straight after he cancels a date because of a work commitment. As noted at the end of the short, racy film, it serves as "A Gentle reminder from Agent Provocateur not to forget Valentine's Day." Another recent video clip introduces the brand's new "Virgins" spring collection.
The mission of the overall social media effort has been to "project an authentic voice that remains compelling and relevant to our smart and progressive [target audience]," noted Goodson. "Especially in luxury and fashion, brands can feel so removed, and there's rarely a dialogue with the audience. Our strategy for this initiative has been to create authentic content and a new brand experience in the luxury space."
The agency works collaboratively with Agent Provocateur's online team and its U.S. PR staff. "They bring the history, retail, and overall brand perspective, and we specialize in communication strategy and online content ideas and production," continued Goodson.
An actual dialogue does appear to be happening between brand and follower in some cases. A recent post responded to "tweets asking if AP is participating in NY Fashion Week." Still, the reader must maintain some suspension of disbelief: "we arent. Sorry folks. But I do expect to be at a show or 2. See you there?"
The brand has about 250 followers of its twitter.com/msprovocateur account. Far more have befriended it on Facebook -- over 9,000 -- though there is much less interaction with it there thus far. Indeed, the profile includes more content posted by brand fans than by the brand itself. Several fan photos have been uploaded, including one featuring a fluffy feline perched under tissue paper in an Agent Provocateur shoebox.
Rather than trying to build a new social space for the brand, StrawberryFrog "leaned into where we know Agent Provocateur fans already live: Facebook, Twitter, and various blogs," said Goodson in an e-mail to ClickZ News. The agency is measuring engagement, traffic, sales metrics, and media attention in order to gauge results of the social media efforts.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.