Fall, a Season for Every Brand

It’s that time of year again, the season that many consumers consider to be the real start of the “new year.” Whether you’ve been existing in a flurry of school supplies and lunch box selections or you’ve been reinforcing your closet with cool weather gear, you’ll no doubt agree that fall brings with it a lot of activity – and a lot of advertising.

Not only do countless consumers rely on this season’s ads to alert them to special offers and savings on the goods they need to buy for their school-aged kids, but they also look to them as a source of information about what’s new and what’s on trend (not to mention what’s likely to become an object of desire, whether for their offspring or themselves).

Fall Fashion for All

This year, it was school supplies that fueled young consumers’ hankerings – at least offline. According to Ace Metrix, which ranks the effectiveness of national TV ads, retailers offering apparel deals took a backseat to those offering laptops and other tantalizing technology gadgets. Microsoft, Best Buy, and Dell were among the brands to make the Ace Metrix top 10 list of most effective back-to-school TV spots.

Online things have been playing out a little differently. While we’re certainly seeing technology well represented, apparel too is coming on strong. Leading the charge is Zappos: the brand partnered with iVillage to sponsor a high-profile “Back to School Community Challenge” in addition to covering all of the consumer bases with online PR promoting its back-to-school fashions for junior boys and girls. Zappos is also currently running a fall fashion campaign geared more toward college students and post-education adults that employs the aid of a Zappos.com stylist to deliver the online retailer’s fashion trends for fall. It’s running on such sites as RealSimple.com, with expandable banners and a video counting down the stylist’s top 10 trends.

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Tech Meets Apparel Trends

Eschewing the standard approach to touting technology on the web, Sprint too is sharing its take on the top fall fashion trends – or rather, its quasi spokesperson is. Sprint has partnered with Marie Claire magazine and Jessica Quirk, a fashion blogger and author of “What I Wore,” to deliver a message about the convenience of Sprint mobile services and the importance of staying connected (the brand’s tagline “All.Together.Now” features prominently).

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Every week throughout the month of September, Quirk will present Marie Claire devotees with a fashion challenge (such as submitting a photo of themselves in their favorite vintage look) through the TrendSetter section of the publication’s Facebook page. Sprint is also promoting the campaign with posts on its own Facebook page, along with display banners in the fashion section of MarieClaire.com. Participants in the challenge upload their photos to the Sprint-sponsored Marie Claire Facebook page to be reviewed by fans and Quirk herself, and all page visitors have the chance to win her “Trendsetter Looks.”

Coffee and Pop Culture Collide

If technology and fashion seemed a somewhat unorthodox mix, what must consumers think of Starbucks being bundled with the promise of fall styles? The brand has joined forces with celebrity gossip site PopSugar – the flagship digital publication of women’s media company Sugar Inc. – to sponsor its Food section YumSugar and drum up interest in its seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte.

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Included in the campaign are a Starbucks-skinned YumSugar microsite, display ads that link to a Starbucks pumpkin-carving Facebook app, and sponsored tweets sent on behalf of PopSugar proper. The YumSugar page also features Starbucks news items in the form of branded content (consumers will find such educational and PR-oriented stories as “How to Taste Coffee” and “Starbucks and Lady Gaga Team Up”). Recipes incorporating seasonal ingredients tie in with the fall theme, as does seasonal content including a video of Diva Zappa creating knitwear and another highlighting the work of artist Yarrow Earth Hock, both of which emphasize the slogan, “Fall back into fall” with Starbucks.

Fall brings with it so many opportunities to align your brand with a subject that’s of immediate interest to consumers. Find a unique way to do it and you’ll surely fall forward…instead of back.

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