Social Media Helps Men’s Wearhouse’s ‘Prom Reps’ Get to the Dance

It’s already time for the prom at Men’s Wearhouse, and the formal wear brand is going to the dance with social media for the second straight year.

The Houston-based company utilized a social media platform in 2009 that let high schoolers sign up for a referral program dubbed “Prom Reps,” while earning a free tuxedo rental if they recruited 10 friends to rent one. And for these next few months as proms occur during varying parts of spring, said Matt Schow, VP of online marketing and e-commerce, the boys and girls signing up for the program will have more online and social features at their disposal. (Girls are encouraged to participate and can either accept a $100 Visa gift card or give the free tuxedo to a friend.)

While characterizing last year’s initiative as “really successful,” Schow explained that it was likely hindered by requiring participants to visit a local store. This year, the entire program can be executed at a dedicated Web site, MWTuxonline.com.

The prom reps can use a personal Web page – or a “PR Dashboard,” as MW calls it – to keep track of their sales referrals. The site gives registrants a prom rep ID number to distribute to their friends via more than 200 social media channels, most notably Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and SMS messaging.

“We saw some of the kids promoting themselves on Craig’s List [last year], or as part of their blogs,” Schow said. “There was a lot of activity as we monitored the social space. It led us to believe that if we enabled it [more], it would really take off. The site has only been live for a week, but it’s already accounting for 50 percent of the registrations that are happening so far.”

Additional incentives to participate are another key difference in this year’s campaign. Individuals that register can not only qualify for a free rental, but also earn as much as $100 cash and have the chance to win a new Chevy Camaro. While all tuxedo renters will be entered into the lottery-styled drawing for the car, “Prom Reps” can put their name in up to 51 times – depending on their number of referrals.

MW.photo.jpg MW kicked off a digital campaign for the effort on Friday, March 5, while running paid search ads via Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Display ads are running at teen-oriented sites like Gaia.com, myYearbook.com, Pandora.com, and Takkle.com, as well as Facebook and MySpace.

Sponsored articles and contests are also appearing at some of those sites. “The exact situation is unique to every site,” Schow explained.

In addition, New York-based agency 360i is coordinating outreach to teen-focused blogs, he said. Meanwhile, the brand’s Facebook “fan” page has been updated to include a “Tuxedo” tab. Viewers who click on the tab will see a button for a “Build-A-Tux” app that lets them virtually create a specific look.

And, posts on its “fan” page (currently with 675 members) are being used to push the initiative. Here’s an example from last week: “Becoming a Prom Rep is easy. Fill out this form and you’ll be on your way to turning your friends into cash, scoring a free tux – and maybe even winning a new Chevy Camaro Coupe 2SS!”

The brand’s more than 500 stores have been supplied with “Prom Reps” marketing materials, and their sales teams have been instructed on how to help people get registered. Schow said the overall program was created by his brand’s in-house marketing team, which works out of San Francisco. At the same time, 360i handled creative for the digital elements.

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