Mandee brings the runway to teen fans

Earlier this year, fashion retailer Mandee opened an 8,000 square-foot store in Clifton, NJ, which serves as the prototype for its other 120 stores nationwide.

Client: Mandee (Totowa, NJ)
Agency: The Bromley Group (New York, NY)
Campaign: 2009 Fashion Week Back to School Event and Runway Show
Time Frame: July 1—September 30
Budget: $11,000

Earlier this year, fashion retailer Mandee opened an 8,000 square-foot store in Clifton, NJ, which serves as the prototype for its other 120 stores nationwide. The new design features an elevated white runway designed to be the focal point for in-store events such as fashion shows and concerts.

The first event featured professional models walking the runway in the latest fashions. For the fiercely competitive back-to-school season, Mandee wanted to turn its customers into the stars of the event. “We wanted to take our existing loyalty base—the girls who we talk to constantly through direct mail and online—and showcase them in a back-to-school fashion show,” says Patti Boldt, Mandee's director of marketing, advertising, and visual advertising.

The Bromley Group coordinated elements of the show, as well as helped to promote it.

The reality show America's Next Top Model is popular among the brand's target group. So Mandee built its September 12 fashion show around a model contest that could be followed on its social networks.

Would-be models auditioned at a “go-see” on August 20. To bring credibility to the search, Mandee recruited the likes of Chamisa Lamm from MTV and Betsy Mullinix from Seventeen Magazine to serve as judges. “It was important that the judges came from the shows that the girls watch and the magazines they read,” says Boldt. “We wanted to give them the full professional treatment, from the auditions to the final show.”

Bromley created an e-mail blast to launch the contest, which was sent to Mandee's database of almost 500,000 customers. The e-mail encouraged customers to follow the contest on Mandee's various social networking sites (including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channel), where they could watch video of the go-see and meet the 20 model finalists.

Mandee also recruited America's Next Top Model winner Saleisha Stowers to host the fashion show, “which really helped build more buzz,” says Boldt. After the show, visitors to Mandee's social sites could vote for their favorite model to be featured in Mandee's in-store holiday campaign.

In-store sales were double the normal volume the day of the event, and for the week of the event were up 14% versus the norm.

More importantly, online sales were up 15% for the week of the event (and sales from social media click-throughs were up 13%). More than 1,200 customers also signed up to receive ongoing communications with Mandee, either through its Web site or Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Mandee plans to do it again—with a few key differences designed to bring media to the fashion show. First, the show will instead take place at its New York City location, which is currently renovating to the new store format.

Second, it will hold the event outside Fashion Week. “Editors just had too much to do that week,” says Karen Bromley, principal of Bromley. More media coverage should help extend the reach of the event in 2010.

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