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Express raises the bar for mobile through multifaceted campaign

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March 18, 2013

Express is tying QR codes, SMS, social media and mobile Web together to bolster engagement and sales for NBC’s “Fashion Star” television show.

This season marks the second season of NBC’s fashion reality TV show, and Express’ first year participating in the program. Express has steadily been building up its mobile repertoire in the past couple of years.

“As the weekly styles we purchase on Fashion Star are available online, we want to ensure that our customer watching at home or shopping in-store has quick access to the product description, multiple images and behind-the-scenes content,” said Eric Gohs, director of digital marketing at Express, Columbus, OH.

“It was also important to engage our guy and girl wherever they may be on their mobile devices, so throughout the season, you’ll find different ways of interacting with Express and Fashion Star across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, our Explife blog and SMS – all of which they can do from their phone,” he said.

Connect on mobile
Fashion Star is a reality TV show where up-and-coming designers vie for a chance at launching collections in three stores – Express, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue – by impressing buyers from each company through weekly challenges.

The buyers then make decisions on-the-spot about which items they want to be available in their stores, and the clothes are rolled out in-store and online immediately after the show airs.

Erika De Salvatore, director of visual merchandising at Express, is the buyer from the specialty retailer.

As part of the marketing around Fashion Star, Express has placed QR codes inside its stores and on its windows that read, “See it. Love it. Wear it.” Underneath the QR code, a call-to-action prompts users to scan to receive insider information on the show from Express.

Additionally, a URL to the campaign’s microsite – http://www.express.com/fs – is promoted.

Via the site, consumers can either shop items or add them to their wish list. The product pages also mix in recommended additional merchandise from Express.com.

There are also store locator and order status features built-in to the microsite.

SMS plays a big role in how Express is connecting to the show’s viewers this year. The retailer has partnered with automotive brand Fiat on a sweepstakes.

One grand prize winner will receive a 2013 Fiat 500 Turbo, a trip to an Express event, a shopping spree and a style makeover. Additional weekly prizes include Express gift cards and Suave beauty products.

By opting in to the SMS program, consumers will receive 10 text messages during the show’s season in addition to Express’ own SMS alerts.

Consumers can text the keyword RUNWAY to the short code 397737 to enter the sweepstakes.

There is also a social media component to the sweepstakes. Consumers with an Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter page can participate in 10 weekly challenges that incorporate all of the social sites and live through the hashtag #EXPFashionStar.

Ms. Salvatore also has her own Twitter handle, which users can follow from the campaign’s microsite to stay up-to-date on the show.

The sweepstakes runs through May 16.

“The QR codes are a great visual cue that there is more content available with a quick scan,” Mr. Gohs said.

“But we also include vanity URLs on all of our in-store and print collateral to give our guy and girl the option to engage on their terms,” he said.

“And the SMS sweepstakes was a no-brainer as we’ve seen a ton of success with text-to-win campaigns at our store openings and spring break events. It’s one of the fastest and easiest ways to enter a contest and we wanted to reduce friction as much as possible. The SMS entry also allows us to re-engage with entrants after a double opt-in process.”

Macy’s is also ramping up its mobile presence with Fashion Star this year through a campaign that also includes QR codes, SMS and mobile Web (see story).

Mobile retail
Express has been building up its mobile presence for a while.

Last year, Express loaded direct mail pieces with QR codes and SMS calls-to-action that let consumers shop a line of jeans (see story).

Additionally, the retailer tapped in-store mobile bar codes to drive sign-ups for its loyalty program (see story).

In this case, using a plethora of mobile mediums with clear call-to-actions not only lets Express net the widest group of consumers, but also helps the brand connect its in-store, online and television marketing.

“Our guy and girl are definitely ahead of the curve when it comes to mobile, so we’re taking a mobile-first approach with just about anything we do,” Mr. Gohs said.

“From the in-store experience to shopping online, mobile is at the heart of any decision,” he said. “In particular, you’ll see enhancements to our loyalty program – Express Next – with a focus on social and mobile interactions.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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