The ubiquity of social media has been a blessing for some, and for others an unwelcome sea change. Love it or hate it, social media and the way people use it is constantly changing, but here to stay. With the advent of social media stars—so-called regular people who amass major followings based first and foremost on their social media presence—many brands big and small have jumped to capitalize on these newly minted influencers. Advertising, like social media, is an ever-evolving landscape and the team at Gap is at the front of the pack. To mark the launch of the 2013 Best New Menswear Designers collaboration collection with GQ—released today, 24 September 2013—Gap called on some of the video network Vine's top users to spread the word in their own unique styles.
"More and more people are using mobile technology to consume content and advertisements," says Director of Global Digital and Social Media, Rachel Tipograph, "and we know that people respond better to content that doesn't feel like an advertisement." The solution then was to aim directly at their target demographic—young savvy men—through the most direct and trusted channel; their favorite social media personality. To find just the right personalities to to suit their audience, Tipograph called on the aptly named Niche, an agency that specializes in connecting clients with major players across social platforms. "We're consistently finding that lo-fi content, for example something made with an iPhone, is creating much better engagement than traditional hi-fi content," says Tipograph.
CH got an exclusive look at the making and execution of this real-time marketing strategy—from an early morning meet-up with the Vine characters and Gap stylists, to a secret studio location where the Vine magic was made. A range of personalities were invited, all with one thing in common: The desire to perform. From trying on the highly sought after clothing to braving rush hour in Midtown, all of the "Viners" were continually spouting off ideas for posts. "I'm not an attractive man and I haven't been shopping in three years," says aspiring stand-up comedian Bill Stiteler with a laugh, "It's so cool to be here."
After getting kitted out in the latest gear from the special collection, the Vine stars headed downtown to Gap's secret studio location in lower Manhattan. With an open space, hundreds of mannequins for props and several like-minded "Viners" around to shoot and star in the six-second videos, the content started flowing. It's clear, especially from a firsthand perspective, why this sort of content is so engaging to consumers and appealing to advertisers: It's made by the very people it's intended for.
After a well-received collaboration collection in 2012 featuring the likes of Saturdays Surf NYC and BLK DNM, the 2013 offering does not disappoint. An Americana denim-centric collection from Kansas City's Baldwin Denim provides for rock solid everyday staples, while the CBGB-meets-Savile-Row-vibe of Bespoken's offering is easy to wear and versitile.
Photos by Hans Aschim