When famous Vogue editor and notorious “The Devil Wears Prada” subject, Anna Wintour, launched Fashion’s Night Out in 2009, her goal was to encourage people to shop and spend money on consumer goods, in the wake of global financial collapse in 2008.
Remember, the fashion industry had a rocky road to travel after Wall Street fell apart. Consumers simply had no extra cash for “luxury” purchases, and even affluent buyers backed off their spending in favor of more conservative budgets (and clothing). As a result, many designers (including notables like Christian Lacroix and Yohji Yamamoto) were forced to file, or seriously consider filing, for bankruptcy.
Image courtesy of esapartments.com
While most people didn’t sympathize much with the fashionistas—given that many were struggling to scrape together money for their mortgages, let alone a new dress—Wintour saw the impact the economic downturn was having on fashion-related jobs and revenues. She maintained that the nation needed the kind of pick-me-up that only the fashion community could provide.
By combining a fun shopping experience at the beginning of New York’s Fashion Week with an engine for charitable giving—all contributions by shoppers would go to the “New York City AIDS Fund in the Community Trust”—Wintour took the guilt out of “frivolous” spending, and voila . . . FNO was born!
Now in its fourth year, Fashion’s Night Out has events in more than 500 cities across 18 countries, and it benefits a host of different local and national charities, depending on which ones the individual organizers choose. The different branches are regulated by a strict set of rules for who can register, and how they can operate their own FNO events.
FNO’s marketing engines begin revving up months in advance across the globe, promoting both invitation-only and public shopping experiences and parties for fashion junkies. Sure, New York remains the recipient of much of the buzz because of their internationally renowned Fashion Week, but by allowing the event to spread, FNO shares its notable fashion spotlight with cities that may not be as well known for their fashion chops. It’s a win-win —and each city brings its own flavor to the celebration, as well.
Savvy marketers can learn some important lessons from the FNO marketing machine:
- Spread the word with social media. The FNO Twitter account and FNO Facebook page have hundreds of thousands of supporters, and the #FNO hashtag is still producing Tweets from around the globe –even after the NYC event has ended. New this year, Facebook-backed Instagram partnered with FNO to run FNO Live, a real-time picture engine for the event. The fashion community loves the fast-paced nature of social media conversation, not to mention the inexpensive grassroots support it provides for independent designers, small shops and communities with smaller marketing budgets. Many cities created their own FNO hashtags to share their events as they happened—and to line their efforts up against FNO cities across the world.
- Include everyone… but offer consistent brand. The FNO branding imagery changes somewhat from year to year, but the branding trickles down to the cities from the central New York hub. By providing marketing resources that reflect that branding to the different cities, the FNO brand stays strong wherever it goes.
- Take the guilt out of the party with cause marketing. Anything for a good cause, right? By partnering with charities—who, don’t forget, also took a recession-related hit—the fashion industry makes it “okay” for shoppers to indulge a bit more. Companies often see a rush of goodwill when they link up with a great cause, and that’s usually associated with an accompanying rise in revenues, too!
Click through the FNO website and social media channels to do a bit of “learning by example.” I think you’ll find, like I did, that the folks behind Fashion’s Night Out are leading the pack when it comes to marketing smarts.