H&M has just brought tighty whities to huge heights with their latest marketing event – projecting David Beckham images in various underwear products on the White Cliffs of Dover. The interesting part of it is that the stunt is the draw and not, necessarily, the execution or actual impressions. In this case, the brand presented a nice marketing mix of timing, placement and control – letting the buzz follow.
H&M’s timing could not be better – with the Olympics taking place and Beckham’s appeal through the roof (made even stronger by his appearance in the Games’ opening ceremonies.) And, the brand was able to leverage the Olympics without having to pay a fee like all the brands who have tied their names to the Games.
As we’ve seen with other landmarks, natural and man-made, it is tricky to make use of them for marketing purposes. The challenges in negotiating for their use often lead to ideas being dropped before they even start. With the development of large-scale projection, a large part of the issue – hampering with the physical structures – is averted. It still remains to be seen what kind of fallout there might be when people realize that their beloved location has been usurped for marketing purposes.
What’s most interesting about this execution is the extremely small amount of people who might actually have a chance to see it in its actual form. The limitation of viewers to anyone who might have a flight plan bringing them over the White Cliffs of Dover at night, on a night-time ferry across the channel, or a boat just passing by, or possibly being able to make it out from the shores of France being able to see it makes the actual reach of one night’s posting very limited. But its the real reach that is making the difference.
Keep in mind that, in addition to the relatively few people who might have actually seen it, there is only one image that is circulating. While this execution happened on Wednesday night, the 1st of August, there is still only one image that is circulating around the web as of four days later. (I actually waited a couple of days to post this in order to see if there was more than the one image.) That one available image seems to be so brilliant that it just feels like it could be photoshopped. The most cynical could say that it was an agency’s mocked up proposal that made it out into the ether – with H&M getting the bang for the buck without having to actually execute. Add to that their Twitter campaign using #beckhamsbriefsofdover which has people posting the same exact image.
Regardless of that, and even if it never happened, it was a smart move on H&M’s part because of the amount of control they had and how much the action is being picked up. No matter whether people are upset or excited about it, there is still buzz. When looking at H&M’s target demo, how much concern needs to be placed on negative feelings for this?
Kent Online digs deeper into whether it was a real execution or not, but does it really matter in the end. What matters is that a generally positive buzz has been unleashed about a product that some could say had no business being in the news cycle. Perhaps the only thing I wish they had done ensure that other images or video were available to support whether it was actually executed. It will be left to the audience to determine whether they care if the execution really happened or not. What brings this marketing campaign to the edge is that it drove people to talk about a product based on an execution very people actually saw – if there was anything at all to be seen…