More than 4,400 retail executives and solution providers gathered at the 2012 Shop.org Annual Summit to learn about current trends and best practices in digital and cross-channel marketing.
Creating a compelling yet brand-consistent experience across channels was a key theme at this year’s Shop.org, which took place Sept. 10-12, 2012, in Denver. With a packed agenda featuring retail success stories and insights on evolving shopping behaviors, the conference included sessions from thought leaders and executives from retailers including: Crate and Barrel, Guitar Center, H&M, J. Crew, Macy’s and Nordstrom.
H&M Executive Reveals Brand Marketing Case Studies
During the presentation, titled: “Branding Innovation The H&M Way,” Stephen Lubomski, Marketing Director of H&M North America, shared key principles the retailer follows with every marketing campaign.
Though the goal of every campaign is to maintain one consistent brand, Lubomski said, “we always keep certain principles in mind.” Those are:
Always be surprising.
Do everything at the highest level, or don’t do it at all.
Coordinate all channels.
Activate relevant media and touch points based on target consumers.
Tie all marketing initiatives to sales.
In addition, “we always get our whole team on board,” Lubomski said. “PR, the visual team, sales and all our staff in stores are always supportive of what we’re doing from a marketing standpoint.”
Lubomski illustrated to Shop.org attendees how H&M utilizes these guidelines to increase brand recognition among U.S. consumers. He discussed the goals, planning processes and execution of two campaigns: the unveiling of the David Beckham for H&M bodywear collection, and the #KissForACure campaign, rolled out during the 2012 Coachella music festival.
Using Beckham And The Super Bowl To Reach New Audiences
The Super Bowl is a must-see event for Americans, making it an ideal opportunity for brands to promote new products. With approximately 110 million people watching the football game in 2011, H&M saw Super Bowl 2012 as an ideal opportunity to generate conversations around the Beckham body line, Lubomski explained.
“Our primary goal was to use the celebrity body wear collection to really launch the brand, raise awareness among all target customers, and to increase sales in menswear,” Lubomski said. “We held a multi-media campaign with our first-ever Super Bowl ad as the centerpiece. Everything else was built around that commercial spot.”
However, before investing in a highly-coveted yet costly commercial spot, H&M team members considered the following factors:
Commercial spot time
Editing process and song decision for the ad
The ad release schedule
When to officially launch the product in stores: before or after the ad release
“We decided to launch the Beckham line before the ad was played during the Super Bowl so we had something to benchmark,” Lubomski explained. “We were able to determine if the ad worked because we had prior sales metrics for comparison, which allowed us to justify the money we spent for the spot.”
The bodywear line officially was launched on Jan. 17, 2012. H&M released the 30-second David Beckham Super Bowl commercial on YouTube Jan. 30, 2012, then embarked on a media tour to further the association with the soccer star.
Creating a 360-degree campaign across digital and physical channels, the retailer tackled publications such as GQ and Sports Illustrated, as well as social media sites, to target new demographics. Overall, H&M gained 1.94 million media impressions across digital and physical channels two weeks before and after the ad was aired on Feb. 5, 2012.
After Super Bowl Sunday, H&M experienced triple-digit sales growth for the Beckham line, Lubomski reported, and increased profits within men’s apparel.
Additionally, the retailer experienced a surge in social communication throughout and following the commercial spot, garnering 930 million social media impressions and 114,000 million comments across social sites.
“Social TV is real, and it’s here to stay,” Lubomski advised. “We know people are watching television with tablets and smartphones in their hands; they’re tweeting and posting on Facebook. We recognized that these trends were big during last year’s Super Bowl, but we didn’t know how big it was going to be this year.”
Spotlighting Social With #KissForACure
While the David Beckham Super Bowl ad leveraged many traditional marketing strategies, the H&M #KissForACure relied on social media only to increase awareness. The campaign was developed to generate buzz around the H&M Fashion Against AIDS initiative, in which proceeds were donated to Designers Against AIDS.
“We knew from the very start this campaign would succeed best in social channels,” Lubomski explained, “so everything we did had the hash tag included to reinforce that it was social media-based.”
H&M used its sponsorship at Coachella 2012 as an opportunity to promote the #KissForACure campaign to target consumers between the ages of 18 and 34. This age range also was the primary demographic of Coachella.
“This campaign didn’t require multimillion dollar budgets or PR agencies, but we worked on it just as hard,” Lubomski said. “The solution was to take the hash tag campaign to Coachella and encourage on-site activation, but then extend it outside the festival grounds to all consumers.”
During the six-day event, concertgoers were encouraged to take photos of their favorite Coachella fashions then upload them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the #KissForACure hash tag. Every time the hash tag was used, one dollar was donated to charity.
By the end of Coachella, the retailer had experienced the following results:
2,115 “Likes” on Facebook
1,062 mentions on Twitter
2% increase in social followers
$14,863 raised for Designers Against AIDS
To increase engagement among festival attendees, H&M also built a “relaxation” tent on the grounds. The space included a lounge area; free water; a “freshen-up” station featuring sunscreen, lipstick and other materials; and two photo booths.
However, it was imperative that the tent not feature an influx of overt sales messaging, Lubomski explained. “We intentionally did not oversell the H&M brand in this rest area,” he said. “We posted a few simple images of the campaign to reinforce that picture message and also a few signs with the hash tag, but that was the extent of our branding in the tent.”
Through the David Beckham and #KissForACure campaigns, H&M successfully maintained consistent brand messaging across print, digital and physical channels. As a result, consumers could identify the retailer easily, and have a concise understanding of its products and what the brand represents.