Luxury brands are missing out by snubbing the hashtag offline
By Rachel Arthur

Browsing through the September issues on our desks this month and one thing that particularly sprang to mind – other than the models reclaiming the front covers – was the dearth of hashtags being used in any of the season’s big fashion campaigns.

Aug 29, 2014
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Browsing through the September issues on our desks this month and one thing that particularly sprang to mind – other than the models reclaiming the front covers – was the dearth of hashtags being used in any of the season’s big fashion campaigns.

Reporting on this space used to mean buying a stack of said publications twice yearly and physically scanning in the relevant pages, or calling up PRs and asking them to courier over a CD with their high res images saved on. At WGSN we cover in the region of 400 brands each season – the best of everything from designers through to retailers, denim brands, sportswear companies and more. It’s a mega feat, added to with a big chunk of analysis about the visual trends of the season, the new models to know about and more.

Of course the task started to simplify (at least a little) a few years ago as slowly but surely the brands used this creative work not just for advertising, but also as a method of PR, pushing out the imagery across their own social channels as a story in its own right to mark the beginning of the season when collections were hitting stores. Today, you only need to source a Facebook album, look to recent Instagram posts or search through Pinterest to quickly find the assets for numerous companies.

This huge focus on social releases has become the norm – and the sharing that ensues is equally unsurprisingly (particularly when you have the likes of social queen Cara Delevingne posting her campaigns for Burberry, Chanel, Topshop and Mulberry to name a few to help push them).

So why then, are so few taking advantage offline of the hashtag – the very thing that social now centres around to inspire and curate said sharing further? Fashion retains an enormous focus on placing its ads in print publications, yet next to no brands have employed a humble tag on any of their work featured in them.

Lots are talking about it back online. Topshop has #ilovetopshop, AG Jeans has #whatmovesme, but few have integrated that social concept into the real world in order to tie their campaigns wholeheartedly together. In fact, Calvin Klein’s #mycalvins campaign (as pictured) is one of the only ones.

Stepping away from fashion, the uptake of hashtags in TV ads is significantly on the rise. At the Super Bowl in March 2014, 57% of commercials featured them, up from 50% in 2013 and 25% in 2012. Resulting mentions across social during that time were, as expected, significantly higher.

So where’s the gap with fashion? Is it as simple as hashtags not fitting in with the aesthetic of the campaign in terms of the preferred direction of these brands? Quite likely.

But there’s also a little part of the scenario that makes me wonder whether this is a classic case of brands wanting consumers to share, but not wanting to suggest they’d like that to be the case. Admitting to digital in a print publication is too close to that whole democratisation of luxury debate that the industry still isn’t quite able to shake off.

If Delevingne sharing with her six million Instagram followers is anything to go by mind you, I’d say it’s finally time.


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