CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch - Punk panties' PR goes over in style

Client: Franky & Minx (New York)

PR Team: In-house, with assistance from 212 Group (New York)

Campaign: Franky & Minx launch

Time Frame: June 2001 - present

Budget: About $20,000



Companies that try to break into niche markets often lack the

credibility required for success.



But that's never been a problem for Heidi Minx. If the fact that she

founded the alternative marketing division at 212 Group - a lifestyle PR

firm - doesn't signal that she's a genuine lifelong punk rocker, the

piercings, tattoos, and blue hair certainly do. So when Minx teamed up

with monomial friend Franky (a tattoo artist who previously worked with

fashion diva Betsy Johnson) to develop products for punk rockers, she

knew that they'd have to do what punk rockers do best: make everyone

else's heads turn.



Strategy



When Minx attended a Las Vegas fashion convention, she saw the marketing

communications problem firsthand. "A lot of companies were trying to

gear toward punk rock customers," says Minx, "but they weren't getting

it.



They were trying to meet a need, but they didn't understand it.



"When I create a product, I want to think about who's it going to appeal

to, and how's it going to get there?" Minx continues.



"So many power brands are trying to reposition themselves as lifestyle

brands. Mountain Dew isn't soda - it's snowboarding."



Franky and Minx figured out that Franky's designs would work on

everything from bedding to home and lifestyle products. But they decided

to start with something simple and eye-catching: underwear. The

challenge, however, was to position the panties (which Minx herself

screens and presses by hand) as part of the punk rock lifestyle, and use

that as a launchpad for gaining a licensee to manufacture, distribute,

and sell other Franky & Minx products. "Major clothing companies like

Tommy Hilfiger are all licensed," Minx explains. "We wanted to work in

that vein, and use that to grow."



Tactics



Franky & Minx began their push by launching a website

(frankyandminx.com), but before Minx could reach out to the press, she

had to get the underwear into a store.



Having previously worked as a fashion and lifestyle journalist, Minx

knew exactly where to start: with Jennifer Kaufman, a boutique in LA's

Beverly Center known for selling accessories to stars. "Heidi sent me

samples. The quality was outstanding, and the fit was really good," says

Kaufman, who owns and operates the store. "She sold all of our product

to Christina Aguilera, and we even did a custom order for her," adds

Minx. "Things like that make it justifiable for a national magazine. If

they didn't want to take a risk on us before, now they do."



By the time Aguilera had snapped up all the thongs at Jennifer Kaufman,

however, Minx already had the story of Franky & Minx in the trade

publication Licensing Letter, which began to generate interest.

"(Website) Fashion Wire Daily did a story on us. The editor called me

up, and we gave her a punk rock makeover. We had her for the whole day,

did her hair and make-up, and Franky painted a company logo on her

chest. We even dressed her up in Sub-Mission, and shot it all on my

digital camera. The next thing I know, the story runs on Page Six (of

the New York Post), and gets picked up worldwide. A piece on InStyle.

com hit on the same day, and I found myself getting orders from

Milwaukee to Australia," Minx says.



Results



The story of Franky & Minx is still spreading, and along with it, the

availability of the underwear.



"I didn't even pitch the European press, but somehow the story got

picked up. We got stores in London and Dublin calling, asking to carry

our line," Minx says. Kaufman adds that she's "sold the products to

everyone," and has had to reorder.



Other stories have appeared in a variety of places, such as Tattoo

Review, Time Out New York, and even a newspaper in North Carolina. And

along with each story comes more orders for thongs.



Future



To expand interest in the line, Minx has enlisted friend and former

Playboy Playmate Nicole Wood to model Franky & Minx underwear. "She's

off the wall," says Wood of Minx. "She has her own style, and doesn't

follow trends. She really does her own thing."



The same could be said for her PR efforts, which seem to be working.



Currently, Minx is in talks with a major retailer to produce,

distribute, and sell a variety of tattoo-inspired products in its stores

in the US and UK.



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