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.
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
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."
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.
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.
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.