To cover the constant content cycle across digital platforms, fashion brand strategies have changed around photoshoots and fashion shows to make sure they’re milked for all their worth.
Marketing and advertising teams have been dealing with the need to create more content for more customer touch points, without significant budget increases, for years now as ad spend shifts and customer attention moves online. According to 2017 research data from intelligence firm Magna, the year’s digital ad spend for luxury brands increased 63 percent since 2013, while print ad spend decreased by 8 percent.
“The traditional model has changed a lot. Brands used to pay a lot of money for not a lot of content. Think 10 high-quality, high-brow photos from a shoot,” said Matt Rowean, a partner and the creative director at production company and creative agency Matte Projects, which has worked with brands like Chanel, Rag & Bone and Kith. “Now, they’re trying to create more while spending less. The incessant need for short-form social content means you’re not walking away from a shoot that you spent a lot of money on for just a few assets.”
As brands see growth in regions like Asia, which has a unique set of platforms in need of different brand content, and as more product is dropped throughout the year, they’re forced to make more adjustments.
“In addition to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, we’re investing in WeChat and Weibo as a cost effective consumer communication opportunity to increase online and store sales, acquire new customers and build brand awareness,” Victor Luis, CEO of Coach parent company Tapestry, told investors in March.
One vp of marketing at a contemporary fashion brand said that while marketing spend hadn’t substantially increased, a single photoshoot now must yield enough social media fodder in both video and photo format to be able to post multiple times per day for the weeks surrounding a specific campaign. That includes behind-the-scenes footage, videos that can be edited for multiple formats, and extra photos and video footage that can be run as influencer content.
“We all learned that content couldn’t be repurposed across platforms — that became a social media marketing rule of thumb,” said the exec. “But we’re getting creative to work around that.”
On production sets, that means more power is going into the hands of more people so that more is getting done at once. Rowean said that while five years ago, a set would have one brand executive, one director and one photographer calling the shots, brands have had to become more versatile. While a main photoshoot is happening, a social media editor may be updating Instagram Stories with sneak-peek footage. One video taken on an iPhone might be cut up and run on social media weeks down the line.
“You need to be scrappy and also high-quality. How can you do more with the money that’s being spent without cutting corners?” he said. “That’s changed our work because strategy has evolved beyond a single campaign, to an overarching concept. We help create the assets, and then help them figure out how to use them in order to be rolling out content on a regular basis.”
The same mindset has taken over brand strategies around fashion shows. While some designers have decided that the fashion format, as an investment, is no longer worth it, those who remain on the runway have to make sure that the outcome is not just the debut of a collection but marketing content that can last until the next one.
According to Laurie DeJong, CEO at fashion events agency LDJ Productions, this has played out in a few different ways on the day of a fashion show. Using runway sets as backdrops for look books and photoshoots and livestreaming the show have become standard strategy in recent years. Influencers, sometimes paid, sometimes not, have played bigger roles than front-row fixtures: They’re often set up with daylong access to fittings, run-throughs, and hair and makeup in order to feed a constant flow of brand content to followers.
Brands across the board aren’t spending more on fashion shows, said DeJong. But sponsorship dollars are increasing, and coming from differentiated sources. It used to be that mainly hair and makeup brands would sponsor individual fashion shows; now, tech companies, hotels, lifestyle brands, food and beverage companies and more want in on the increased exposure.
“People see the value of being involved more now than they have in the past because of the increase in media exposure — and not just fashion media, mainstream media,” said DeJong.
There’s resistance, of course. As agencies and production companies guide brands through an age of media gluttony, some designers are pushing the brakes and deciding that more isn’t better — an attitude that some agency execs think will spread.
“Things have become very rapid. The existence of all these forms of social media that brands inhabit has necessitated coming up with an approach on their behalf. So the increased speed of consuming information and the accessibility has created a different atmosphere around creators and brands,” said Brian Phillips, president of the agency Black Frame, which works with brands like Rodarte and Opening Ceremony. “It’s a portal for them to connect, but it’s put pressure on them to constantly update and have something to say. Not all designers do, and we want to respect that.”