The Femmy Awards' PR team reveals how to sell out an event

Host Dita Von Teese and targeted media coverage helped the awards ceremony attract a record number of attendees.

Dita Von Teese with student designers at the Femmy Awards.
Dita Von Teese with student designers at the Femmy Awards.

Company: Underfashion Club
Campaign: 2016 Femmy Awards
Agency: The Bromley Group
Duration: February 2, 2016
Budget: $200,000

The Femmy Awards – a ceremony honoring individuals and companies in the intimate apparel industry – attracted a record number of attendees after securing fashion icon Dita Von Teese as host, along with targeted media coverage.

The fashion industry group behind the event, Underfashion Club, promoted the Femmy Awards with help from the Bromley Group. In recent years, the firm has introduced red carpet elements to the ceremony, reeling in celebrity guest hosts, and garnering comprehensive media coverage.

The 2016 Femmy Awards were held on February 2 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.

The goals of this year’s event were to boost attendance to maximize support for the funding of student scholarships in intimate apparel design and merchandising. Elevating the event with a celebrity host relevant to the intimates industry was another objective.

"A major challenge for us is that this is an industry event," said Karen Bromley, principal of the Bromley Group. "People are asked to support a lot of events, so we wanted to make a trade event the place to be for executives that are busy and have a lot of demands."

The annual awards event also serves as a fundraising vehicle that enables the Underfashion Club to support its extensive Scholarship, Awards, Internship, and Grants (SAIG) programs for intimate apparel design and merchandising. These efforts bring to life the Underfashion Club's credo of, "Education today for a better industry tomorrow."

Von Teese was secured to host the event because she’s a media magnet and for her ties to the industry.

Bromley told PRWeek that planning for the Femmy Awards begins almost one year prior.

"Dita Von Teese hosting the event was a major part of the Femmy Awards' success this year, as well as outstanding honorees," she said. "Her career as the queen of burlesque [and] her intimate apparel collection made her the perfect host."

Past celebrity hosts for the awards include Carson Kressley from Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and actresses Vivica Fox and Debi Mazar.

Bromley Group secured media attention prior to the event by targeting influential trade outlets, including: Women's Wear Daily, Lingerie Journal, Lingerie Briefs, and Creations Lingerie. Consumer media outlets in fashion, lifestyle, and celebrity news were also pitched to cover and attend this year's Femmy Awards.

In addition, media interviews took place pre-event with a specific focus on Valentine's Day, as the event took place just two weeks prior.  

A red carpet and media area were set up in order to facilitate photography and interviews of high-profile attendees at the event.

The 2016 Femmy Awards also included the 13th Annual Student Design Contest, which featured the work of fashion design students with a specialization in intimate apparel from the Fashion Institute of Technology. This year’s theme was Artists as Muse, and the six finalists drew their inspiration from artists Georgia O’Keefe and Frida Kahlo. 

Attendees voted for their favorite garment, and the winning designs were announced that night. A display was created at the entrance of the venue with designs from the finalists.

The Femmy Awards sold out with more than 700 attendees and broke all records for money raised at $600,000.

"The event was the most successful Femmy Awards to date in terms of number of attendees and money raised for the SAIG programs," said Bromley. "Our team was able to secure A-list media outlets including Vogue, Maxim, The Daily Front Row, Daily News, and many others."

Intimate apparel trade media outlets also gave extensive coverage to the event, including feature placements in Women's Wear Daily, The Lingerie Journal, Lingerie Briefs, and Creations Lingerie.

Total media value for the campaign was estimated at more than $800,000.

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