“Cotton On understood the importance of engaging with local influencer talent across social to speak to the fashion forward target market in the region”

The fashion market is a cluttered one, and each year, local & international brands spend millions on promoting their latest denim collection. The Australian brand, Cotton On, known locally more for its fast fashion staples – T-shirts, tops, easy dresses  – than its jeans, briefed Atmosphere  to launch the fashion forward, 91 Ltd Denim Collection. Our carefully tailored local influencer approach not only ensured our content & imagery were used on social media channels in the United States and Australia, but to top it all, one of the key items in the range sold out.

The Challenge

The edgy fashion range had to be launched to 18 – 24 year old women, in major metropolitan areas in SA. She had to be an early adopter, fashion obsessed girl who set the style agenda in her sphere. The potential challenges we faced were: - Cotton On South Africa (COSA) launched in SA five years-ago and is known in SA as a relaxed Australian fast-fashion brand. Other international retailers have recently come under fire for not using local talent in campaigns . - The 91 LTD Denim Campaign relied on one set of imagery for all of their global markets. - Cotton On’s primary target market, millennials in urban areas, is not consuming traditional media in high volumes. - The quick turnaround times in fast fashion retail means traditional media is not relevant due to long lead times. - This was a social-led initiative with no additional above the line activities

The Idea

Fortunately, Atmosphere has a good track record with social media influencers – we understand how they work and how we could use their influence on a budget. Social media provided the perfect platform to launch the range – it has a fast turnaround, is cost-effective and is also where early adopters and trendsetters interact. We did extensive research on fashion trends with a focus on what piqued influencer interest. We analysed: Snapchat, Facebook, blogs, Twitter, Instagram in detail and applied the following filters to our pool of influencers: 1) their reach 2) affinity and 3) engagement. Initially we identified a pool of 80 influencers, which were whittled down to 66, who fitted the early adopter criteria - and they were a true reflection of the SA urban, millennial market. Authentic collaboration with influencers gives a global brand local flavour. These influencers stood to benefit from partnering with Cotton On to increase their own reach and gain exposure outside the local market.

The Solution

We identified influencers across relevant sectors– fashion/style, creative, art and design, etc. Our research highlighted that international and local social campaigns and hash tags had a strong emphasis on female power and girl squad. We tapped into this trend with our creative direction which allowed us to create a sense of girl pride in SA - especially amongst the upcoming new target market, the black, young women in South Africa. Our influencer strategy was also directed by the insight that local influencers would benefit from the potential of international exposure as their content could potentially be shared internationally. Our collaboration with SA’s top female fashion influencers and young creative Instagrammers Hloni Coleman and Abe Louw came to life with an all denim shoot on the rooftop of the Big City, Johannesburg, capturing the urban African vibe. The solution was affordable, creative and highly impactful. The campaign rolled out in three phases During the Excite phase we pre-seeded 91 LTD items to a group of high-profile influencers including fashion editors and style experts and delivered personalised product packs to 26 social noisemakers. Media pitching to top tier long lead publications commenced. The Engage phase coincided with the global launch using our key channel: Instagram. We partnered with fashion bloggers, Aqeelah Harron and Crystal Kasper to seed teaser content on Instagram. We collaborated with five girl influencers to create unique SA content to launch the campaign locally. The girls were photographed by two high profile Instagram photographers who also have a high following. - Lulama Wolf - Iman Mkwanazi - Cassandra Twala - Lindiwe Ngubeni - Anelisa Mangcu During the Unveil phase collaboration content were strategically released over the two weeks leading up to the instore launch. More excitement was created by customised product seeding to 33 influencers and long lead articles appearing as a result of pitching during the Excite phase. This was supported by electronic direct marketing outreach for the duration of the campaign.

The Results

All objectives were met and exceeded as we managed to successfully create highly sharable localised content for an international brand. Business results: - SOLD OUT: A key item in the range, the culotte jumpsuit that featured heavily in our campaign, was sold out in 6 weeks, at all stores, across the country. Communications results: We were able to elevate the Cotton On denim offering and position 91LTD as a cutting edge range for local consumers. The campaign created talkability and cemented Cotton On as a ‘Brand to Watch’ by continuing to establish its trend credentials among key fashion forward influencers. Top fashionistas and style gurus gave the brand local relevance by interacting and sharing the brand messaging, promoting it organically on social media o A total of 156 media mentions and 2 795 298 impressions (+420% over KPI target). o AVE: R 3 176 656.82 (1:1) were secured. o A total of 66 influencers was engaged during the campaign which ensured the highest engagement ever generated on a Cotton On social media campaigns locally (33 000+ likes, 500+ comments). o Cotton On was featured in top fashion publications – a highlight was a 6 page article in Grazia. All imagery had a distinct SA feel to it. Budget paramaters: We worked within the allocated budget of Au$ 10 000 Full campaign cost per message = 0,03c (Total campaign investment R93 200/2 795 298 media impressions) Our approach was so novel that local influencer content and imagery was used on social platforms in both the USA and Australia.

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