Please don’t fill new channels with bad creative
TechStyle Fashion Group’s pandemic pivot might be considered rare in a world when marketers say most ads are lackluster and repetitive.
For nearly a year, marketers have operated in a pandemic world where digital channels are all they’ve got. But saying you’re going to tap new channels and then actually delivering results there depends on just how strong your content game is. But just how quickly must you get strong?
“Almost overnight,” said Aubrie Richey, vice president of customer acquisition and media at TechStyle Fashion Group. “We had to rapidly adapt to understand how to get the perfect photo, social media ad or commercial from home, all with the added challenge of developing relatable marketing content for a consumer base experiencing altered life experiences in response to the pandemic.”
TechStyle, which manages fashion brands like JustFab, FabKids and Savage X Fenty, the inclusive lingerie line designed by music icon Rihanna, had already invested in five in-house production studios. Each was staffed by professional photographers and creatives that drove out content across more than 20 channels and networks, developed TV and social media campaigns and supported their flagship web destinations.
But now the company found itself sending production equipment to influencers and brand ambassadors so they could build their own “mini-studios” at home. This way, they could keep up with campaign imagery for monthly new product drops and other promotions, Richey said.
“Our brands began leaning into our vast libraries of influencer-generated content, and ensuring that our influencers had the equipment needed to develop their own content,” Richey stated.
She added, “Our brands rethought core campaigns and key holidays, shifting messaging to be more resonant to consumers who may be adopting a Zoom holiday celebration or more low-key family gatherings. We found that these shifts in strategy resonated with consumers across brands, and that by developing relatable marketing content we were actually strengthening our consumer base.”
Can we be more … creative?
The downside of the sudden influx of channels to consider during COVID-19 is just how much content is needed to fill those gaps. But many marketers say the demand has not been met with worthy creative. In fact, you might say the opposite is happening.
Nearly 69% of the 250 marketers recently surveyed by creative automation provider Celtra say ads are far too repetitive. In fact, 63% concluded that “very few brands are doing creative ads right now.”
But TechStyle has committed itself to being one of those few.
For its JustFab brand, Richey said the company adapted to consumers dwindling interest in workplace and street styles in favor of more quarantine-appropriate athletic wear and loungewear. Its FabKids brands focused on the adjustments parents and children were making for remote learning.
“Each of our brands had to take a reflective look at how to adopt their various marketing strategies to their respective ‘new’ consumers,” she said.
The FabKids content team began recruiting parents to shoot the content of their children in home environments, reflecting the changes to everyday life that families were experiencing. As a direct result of these new strategies, TechStyle launched 25% more ads in 2020 than the preceding year.
And not only were there more ads, but they resonated with consumers’ lives, Richey said.
Nurturing what’s next
Relevance isn’t just about the content, though. It’s also about where the content is seen.
Celtra’s survey found 73% of marketers use Facebook and/or Instagram “the most to engage with their customers.” This was followed by email, at 55%, and 35% through Twitter.
Only 12% of marketers said they use TikTok the most, which is at least an indication that brands with similar audiences are seeing opportunities to expand through that channel. The main takeaway is that brands should keep looking and be ready to pounce if there’s a good match.
For TechStyle, they have made TikTok a priority this year by launching an initiative they call the “#techtokstyle challenge.”
“Our teams saw a gap in TechStyle’s social media presence, and have created a new virtual challenge to grow and scale our presence on TikTok,” said Richey. The challenge asks employees “to express their brand pride and get involved with the content creation process, all while creating relatable ads for our members.”
Here’s hoping they can pack that all in to 15 seconds or less.