Ketchum Creates Fashion Marketing Group

by MR Magazine Staff

NEW YORK – Marketing firm Ketchum has created a new apparel section called Fashion Interactive 2.0, to be led by Roy Edmondson and Jeff Danzer. The group will expand on the traditional marketing modes by exploring blogging, social networks, and other new media and experiential marketing.

Describing the new group’s methods in a press release, the marketing firm explained: “Using Ketchum’s newly developed proprietary program that proactively harnesses the power of social networks, such as MySpace and Facebook, the group will provide a completely measurable communications platform that encourages consumers to become brand evangelists like never before.”

Edmondson, who is Ketchum’s senior vice president in the Global Brand Practice, previously directed marketing at Levi-Strauss and served as vice president of marketing at Rocawear. Danzer will be Ketchum’s vice president and group manager in the apparel section. His previous experience includes being the brand architect behind 2(x)ist.

“The companies that are doing marketing and communications for brands within the apparel business are stuck within product placement, P.R., doing events, seeding, sponsorships, endorsements and all that kind of jazz,” explained Danzer, comparing traditional P.R. to the Internet’s early stages. Ketchum’s new initiative will take a more Web 2.0-style look at marketing brands in the fashion industry. With social networks doing much of the publicity work for a brand, the growth can be exponential, says Danzer.

The biggest benefit of Ketchum’s 2.0 initiative may be its accountability. Danzer is coy about revealing proprietary information too early, but he says that with Ketchum’s new system, brands will have the ability to see growth – or lack of growth – and follow information about its consumers in real time, instead of seeing how they did after a season has passed.

But convincing consumers to embrace brands and become evangelists without alienating them has been difficult for marketers like Ketchum. Danzer thinks he has the solution: “This program we are launching does not go after the social networkers directly through the social networks. Because when brands do that, they alienate the consumer. We’ve figured out a way to get those brand evangelists to opt into the program and to actually create networks of brand evangelist for the brand. Which is huge. No one has been able to figure it out; we did.”

There is a dark side to Web 2.0 with all of its promise of fast networking and instant communication, though. What empowers consumers to spread positive feelings about a brand can also enable them to circulate frustration and anger, as companies like AOL and Dell have learned. Will this work against brands that try to use it to raise their own profiles?

“Consumers can actually cause so much action around a brand, whether it’s positive or negative,” Danzer noted. “What this allows apparel companies to do, which they’ve never been able to do before, is to listen, learn, and respond – instantly. So let’s just say that, for example, an apparel company comes out with something that’s a complete failure. Instantaneously they know it’s a failure. They don’t have to wait for the sales to come through; they don’t have to wait for the retailer to say ‘this isn’t selling.’”

Although the project has a fashion focus right now, it will be applicable to all markets. “We’re incubating it in the apparel area,” Danzer said. “Once we see the power of it, the magnitude and the force behind it, we’re going to be able to roll it out into other areas.”

Ketchum’s Fashion Interactive 2.0 group is in the process of signing their first customer, and they hope to make a formal announcement in September.