David's Bridal spreads love online

National retailer David's Bridal's (DB) was concerned about online criticism of customer service, and it wanted to create positive online interaction.

Client: David's Bridal (Conshohocken, PA)
PR team: Lippe Taylor (New York)
Campaign: One Love
Duration: September 7-October 20, 2008
Budget: $65,000-$85,000

National retailer David's Bridal's (DB) was concerned about online criticism of customer service, and it wanted to create positive online interaction. Longtime agency Lippe Taylor (LT) designed a contest-based campaign to engage and attract consumers, create positive buzz, and promote products.

“Social media shows the best way to reach a consumer is through other consumers,” says Karen Robinovitz, director of LT Interact.

A February 2008 Buzz Metrics study revealed that some brides-to-be talked on social networking sites – Facebook primarily – about not shopping at DB's due to negative experiences of peers.

The aim of the “One Love” campaign was to create an emotional connection by allowing consumers to create, post, and share content focused on the experience of finding their “one love” and to explore how DB and its partners (such as Men's Wearhouse) could help them create their perfect wedding. The team decided to use blogger and media outreach to help spread positive messages.

“Users were enabled to express the feeling of romance and excitement,” Robinovitz explains. “The concept forced them to use DB's entire lineup to create their entry, so it expanded knowledge of DB's offerings.”

To enter, contestants submitted photos, their written story, and a collage of dream items on davidsbridal.com, says Lauren Suero, group manager at LT. DB awarded winners in three categories with their entry items. A grand-prize winner also received a honeymoon gift certificate.

Additionally, viewers were able to comment and vote on entries, and the site prompted contestants to post their entries on social networking sites. An ad about the contest also ran on Facebook throughout the campaign and a branded widget with a bare link helped drive SEO. The team also showed users where the contest was being shared through viral maps on DB's site.

Outreach to wedding, women's, and lifestyle bloggers and Web sites, as well as some traditional media, helped to spread the word. The team also communicated contest details, a link to the site, and an entry example to media. It shared winner announcements directly with bloggers and media, as well as on DB's Web site. LT conducted additional media outreach in the contest winners' hometowns to garner local coverage.

The goal of 200,000 engagements was significantly exceeded with 1.7 million engagements total, including more than 1,800 entries, 14,000 reviews, 86,000 votes, and 1,600,000 views of content. Jayme Maxwell, VP of marketing at DB, is “extremely pleased,” noting that results surpassed expectations.

Technology vendor metrics comparing this effort to the average fashion campaign showed entries were 61% more than the average; 91% were shared on multiple social networking sites, versus 23% average; and user engagement, 12.2 minutes, was nearly two minutes above average.

Content was shared across 8,000 URLs, and DB saw 112% increase in social networking traffic – primarily from Facebook and MySpace– during the campaign. Nearly 650 consumers opted to receive DB correspondence. Additionally, the widget generated more than 7,500 product clicks, and media impressions to date total more than 1.3 million.

“In the end, we had brand ambassadors because DB is so much a part of their dream wedding,” Suero says.

DB and LT plan to continue working together. There is no word on what's next, but the team recently worked on two other user-generated online campaigns for the company – one for bridal products and one for prom.

PRWeek's view
The results here are astounding and really emphasize the importance of online engagement. Robinovitz attributes success to a combination of emotional resonance and back-end technology that allowed effective execution.

This effort certainly illustrates the undeniable importance of cultivating positive, personalized consumer interaction and building mechanisms to spread it. Traditional efforts just cannot compete with the ROI possible when brands find a way to get consumers talking to other consumers about a positive experience with the brand.

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