WestJet: My Favourite Feel Good Campaign

I’m a bit of a sucker for a good viral video, especially if they make me laugh out loud or bring a tear to my eye.  If I had to choose one company who tug at my heart strings every time it is WestJet, an American airline who create the most fabulous videos that have gone viral in an instant.  Some of THE BEST feel good campaigns in the world are the ones that WestJet have created, especially their Christmas videos, which really continue to maintain and build on their reputation as a friendly and caring company as well as having a positive impact on their website hits, bookings and revenue.  You might be wondering why I’m talking about Christmas when we’re only in July, well to create campaigns with such a huge impact, WestJet actually start their planning in August.  At least they have done for the last two years and I sincerely hope that those in their PR department are have another on their agenda this year too.

Last years campaign was INCREDIBLE.  At 25 years of age, I still love Santa.  I’m a believer; there’s just something about good ol’ St. Nic that really makes Christmas feel so magical and brings people together.  When I first saw the WestJet Christmas Miracle video, I couldn’t help but beam with happiness and if was in America and I’d needed a flight that day, theres no doubt in my mind who I would have booked with!  Check out the video below:

The video was created to show the world that the owners of WestJet care at such a special time of the year.  Virtual Santa kiosks were set up at different airports and passengers were asked what they wanted for Christmas.  As they boarded the plane, 150 WestJet employees worked their socks off to make their Christmas wishes come true and when they got off the plane, the passengers were surprised with their gifts wrapped up on the baggage carousel.  Hidden cameras captured scenes of tears of joy and laughter as the passengers were surprised beyond their wildest dreams.  You can watch a case study of the results of the video here:

The WestJet Christmas Miracle video was uploaded to Youtube on 8th December 2013 and Twitter and Facebook updates amplified the reach that the video had through the use of hash tags and propelled the video to viral stardom.  WestJet were the number one trending topic worldwide with millions of people from all over the globe interacting with the company through social media as well as watching the video.  The result was amazing for business but it did more to rocket the reputation of the company with so much positive publicity.  An American news channel even hailed it as ‘the perfect lesson on how to do public relations’ and I couldn’t agree more.

What I also really admire about WestJet as a company is that the way that they really engage with social media, and their ever increasing audience, to really shout about the good work that they do and what they stand for as a business.  They’re their to be profitable but they’re also their to give back and do some good in the world.  I love watching how passionate the Vice President, Richard Bartrem, is when speaking about WestJet in this video:

He comes across as a fabulous representative of the company.  What he is saying is believable, honest and you can relate to it which would definitely increase a customer or potential customers trust in WestJet.

The year prior to the WestJet Christmas Miracle, they created a Flash Mob in an airport (check out the video here) and over the years they’ve created some fantastic videos, not just at Christmas time.  Give their Youtube channel a watch to really appreciate the PR genius that goes on in this company.

In the meantime, I’ll be waiting with baited breath to see what they do this year… Ho ho ho!

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How to Create a Theme for an Event

In my last post, I wrote about my top tips for planning a successful event for bloggers.  One of which is to create a strong theme that flows throughout your event from your very first contact with a blogger until your last follow up email.
 
Creating a theme for your event is very important when planning a blogging event, particularly if it is a new product launch or a brand showcase, as it really enables the brand to put their stamp on the occasion.  It delivers an environment where the key messages can be delivered, reinforced and hammered home.  With so many brands competing for exposure on social media and blogs, it is super important that the event is memorable and having a clear theme is the quickest way to achieving that.
 
A strong theme starts at the planning stages, before you’ve booked your venue, printed press materials and contacted bloggers.  You need to think about the purpose of the event, the message you’re trying to get a cross, who you’re inviting and the timing of the event.  
 
The contrast between the time of year that you’re in now and the time of year that your product is aimed at is very important and its your job to get your creative thinking caps on to conjure up some imagery in the minds of the bloggers at your event.  Jo Malone recently put on a cracking press day for bloggers and press alike where they created an indoor winter wonderland complete with mini ice rink to showcase their Christmas products.  You can see a clip of the event in the video below which is a vlog from ViviannaDoesMakeup, skip to 2:20 for the Jo Malone part.
When you’re ready to invite those on your list of bloggers, ensure the invite is eye catching.  With so many event invites being sent to bloggers, you need yours to stand out and grab their attention, in just the same way that you wouldn’t send a bland, rambling press release to a journalist, you wouldn’t send a few sentences to a blogger.  Get some colour on there and imagery that has the theme of your event or brand evident on it from first glance.  Also include sneak previews of things they’ll be able to do at the event, like having their nails done etc.  This can also be a good way to incorporate other brands on your portfolio and gain them some exposure too.  For example, if you’re working at a fashion event for the launch of a Christmas collection where tartan and dogtooth prints are going to heavily featured, you could get a nail brand on board to paint bloggers nails, inspired by the designs of the clothing collection, at the event.
 
Create a hash tag for the event and encourage the bloggers to use it.  It could be included in the invite to get the bloggers to create a buzz about the event and to find others attending the event and what they’re saying about it if the hash tag is searched.  While at the event, hash tags can be used alongside tweets and photographs of the event on Twitter and Instagram and in status updates on Facebook.  You could run a competition throughout the event to win something from the brand.  This works particularly well if it is a clothing event as you can simply ask bloggers to snap a picture of themselves with their favourite piece from the collection to post to Twitter using the hash tag and @ mentioning the brand a tweet.  The hash tag can also be used when the bloggers write up their posts from the event, whether it is a review of the event itself or of the product the event was about, for example.  This will help you to keep a check of the reviews as they’re tweeted so that you can retweet them from the brand’s account.
 
During the event, make sure your theme is evident.  This could be in the way you’ve decorated the room, the drinks and canapés that are served (French food for a French skincare brand perhaps?) or the activities to do at the event.  I once went to a holiday themed event for a swimwear brand and they had a mini beach set up with a beach ball and deck chair to have photos taken against and a competition to drop a pin on a world map with your name on and if the country you picked is chosen then you would win an item from the collection and the opportunity to blog for the brand.  That worked so well and got everyone involved.  Perhaps I’ll write more about some events I’ve been to in another post.
 
At the end of the event, ensure that each blogger takes home a detailed press pack that has all of the information and key messages that they need to blog about what was intended from the event.  The press pack should also include the details of any preferred stockists and contact details of who to get in touch with with the link to their review or if they have any further questions, need official images etc.  Make sure that the press pack continues the theme of the event whether it is through the use of imagery, hash tag suggestions or the text.
 
Finally, if you’re going to give away a goodie bag at the end of the event then make sure it is relevant to the brand and along the same theme as the event.  If the event was a product launch for a new skincare item then you could give away samples in a bag for each blogger as this is something that is easy to prepare before the event whereas if your event was for the launch of a swimwear line then the chances are, you wouldn’t be able to supply each blogger with a sample on the night as you wouldn’t know which style and size they’d like.  Organise to send their sample out to them and instead give a goodie bag with your logo printed on, again, keep it relevant, like a beach towel or bag, and products related to the brand such as sun cream, bronzer and waterproof mascara.  In the swimwear case, at a beach holiday themed event, this would reinforce the message that each item is something you could use on holiday along with a swimsuit from the new line.
 
I must also note that the theme doesn’t have to be something creative, it could simply be the brand’s key messages and ethos.  Perhaps you’re working the PR for a brand who pride themselves on delivering excellent customer service, professionalism and high performing products.  Make sure that your event reflects that.  I’ve talked about the fun side to planning events here but it can be as plain and simple as creating a very clean, white, scientific environment in which to showcase the latest discovery in a skincare ingredient.  The choice is yours!
 
Let me know in the comments about some of the events you’ve planned or been to and if they had a theme, what was great about it?
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Top 5 Tips for a Successful Blogging Event

So you’re working in fashion and beauty PR and you’ve been set the task of planning an event for fashion or beauty bloggers.  Where do you begin?

There are a million and one things to consider but today, I thought I’d start you off by sharing my top five tips for a successful blogging event.  Are you ready?  Ok let’s go…

Image by Anirudh Koul- Source

Image by Anirudh Koul- Source

1. Location, location, location

The location of the event is very important as it can make it or break it.  Consider WHO you want to invite, paying particular attention to what I call your key influencers– those bloggers with the most influence over your target audience, and WHO the event is for; if you’re organising an event for a cruelty free make up brand don’t pick a venue that’s next door to a butchers and if you know that some of your bloggers have mobility issues then make sure its a venue that is easy to access.

While the capital, London is not always the best location to hold an event purely aimed at bloggers as they don’t all live in London, many have a small budget and some have a family, studies or a full-time job to work around.  All of these factors can often limit their attendance at London events as it can be very costly and time-consuming to travel to and from the capital.  That being said, some of the most popular bloggers live in and around London and some of them do blog on a full-time basis, so it really depends on who you’re hoping will attend.  Also, if you’re wanting to attract the press too then London is ideal.

Hiring a venue and everything that goes with it in London is going to be a lot more costly than hiring a venue outside of the capital however this can work to your advantage.  If you’re a high-end brand and want to attract the attention of a select number of bloggers with a huge fan base, many of which generally live in London, holding a small brunch event in the capital can work particularly well, especially if you’re able to have a spokesperson from the brand there to talk the bloggers through the brands new release.  It’s a personal touch that enables two-way communication with the bloggers and helps the brand to be able to gauge understanding and encourage coverage of their product as the event is deemed to be more exclusive.

Image taken by Ryan Johnson- Source

Image taken by Ryan Johnson- Source

2. Timing is KEY

Another make it or break it event pointer to consider is the time that it will take place.  This is particularly important if your event is in central London and you’re inviting A LOT of bloggers as not everyone will be able to travel into the capital for a 9AM start.  In such cases, keep the event to the afternoon or early evening.  That way you give everyone as much opportunity as possible to avoid rush hour and out of towners can work travel to the event around their day job, studies or family life.

Make sure you check to see if any similar events are being held on the same day that you’re holding yours.  It is not necessarily a bad thing if your event is on the same day but it can be if it is at the same time as many bloggers are invited to similar events and you don’t want half of your guests leaving half way through the event to go to another brands showcase a short tube ride away.  Many brands, particularly while doing their previews of the next seasons line, will have press days or showcases.  Having your event on the same day and time, if it is a drop in session throughout the day, or if it is the same day but at a different time, can actually boost attendance at your event as many bloggers will be encouraged to travel to the events because they’ll be able to go to both.  It’s the killing two birds with one stone mentality.

3. Know your guest list

I cannot stress this enough; know who you are inviting.  A personal greeting when they arrive to tailoring gifted products to that individual can really help to encourage a blogger to write about the event and your brand.  Don’t simply invite bloggers to make up the numbers.  Choose your guests wisely and look to those with the platform to represent your brand in the best, credible light, i.e. avoid inviting a blogger to a book launch if their spelling is atrocious and you might want to give those bloggers who write a review of a product in a few sentences without clear photographs and swatches a miss as well.

I was once invited to an event for a fashion brand that produced clothes that stopped at a size 12, they offered to pay my expenses, give me a selection of items to review and provide a great goodie bag.  In effect, the brand, or the PR agency that had their contract, were throwing money away.  As a plus sized blogger who writes about plus sized fashion, the event and the brand were completely irrelevant to me and my readers!  It is better to have a smaller event with fewer people there who represent what your brand is about and have the right target audience than to blow your budget on a huge turn out where you’re unlikely to gain any worthwhile coverage that’ll make an impact from it.

4. Create a strong theme

Create a theme that will run through the event from the first invite to follow-up emails.  Granted that some bloggers will turn up to the opening of a packet of crisps, some bloggers are a little more savvy when it comes to event invites and a strong, clear theme can really build excitement and encourage attendance.   The theme should influence the décor at the venue, the press pack, gifted items and the social media buzz around the event.  It should also be very fitting for the time of year that the event is intended for.  Creating a strong theme helps to make the event memorable and it reinforces the brands message.  I’ll talk more about how to create a theme in my next post.

5. Expenses vs Involvement

My final tip will no doubt be a controversial one in the office but it is to weigh up the benefit of paying expenses against getting the blogger involved in your campaign.  If it will benefit your brand to have a blogger in attendance at the event, perhaps for photographs and filming, then set aside some of your budget to offer reasonable expenses (i.e. train or petrol travel, assuming the event has been planned at a decent time to allow the blogger to travel there and back in the same day) to those bloggers that will benefit the brand the most and who have the most influence over your target audience, without jeopardising the event as a whole.  I say this because it is important to remember that bloggers aren’t journalists, generally they’re not getting paid, many make very little money from their blogs if at all and travelling to your event will be coming out of their own pocket.  Some bloggers are willing and able to pay to travel to events but some may decline your invite on the basis of not being able to afford to attend, particularly if the event is in London where travel is very costly or if the event is far away from where they live; again, knowing your guest list helps with this.

I wouldn’t necessarily offer expenses straight away, I’d wait until the blogger asks and then assess the request on a case by case basis although be very careful with this as a lot of bloggers know one another and may discuss who has and who hasn’t had their travel covered.  Here you should be looking for the bloggers who are loyal to you and who have written honest, credible coverage for your brand in the past and those who are going to get your message out there to the most people, i.e. those who have a large following on social media, high number of readers in your particular niche, lots of interaction etc.  Depending on the event, budget and campaign, you could either invite a small number of influential bloggers to your event and pay all of their expenses or invite a large number of bloggers and if the more influential bloggers ask for a contribution towards their expenses then pay those out.

Essentially, it’s all about weighing up the benefit of the attendance at the event and coverage achieved from that blogger attending vs. the cost of their travel and generally speaking the benefit of their coverage is worth the cost of their travel if there’s a specific reason as to why their appearance at the event will benefit the brand.  Some will bloggers will not go to the event if their expenses aren’t covered and I have to say that I am generally one of them.  This is because blogging and freelance writing is my full-time job so for me to take a full working day to travel to London costing £80-£100 in return train travel to attend an event to then spend another day writing up a post for a company where I may only make a small commission through affiliate links is not worth it to me as I could sit at home and write a post that would earn me the same in commission and benefit my readers in exactly the same way.  With that in mind, I would consider whether attendance at the event is necessary at all as you could forego paying expenses to bloggers and instead provide them with a detailed press pack and the product to review, for example.  This would keep your costs down and achieve the same outcome.  A lot of the time, if I’m unable to spare the time to travel to an event for a new product launch, I’ll politely decline the invitation but if I think that this is something that would work for my readers then I offer to review the product for the brand and this usually is very advantageous for both me, the brand and the PR.

Let me know in the comments if you have any experience of planning an event for bloggers and what your top tips are!

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Is Beauty Blogging Losing Its Credibility?

Next month, my blog will turn four years old.  It sounds a bit pathetic giving my blog a birthday and celebrating it as though it were a small child but in essence, it is something that I have dedicated a large proportion of my life to over the last four years and at twenty-five, that’s a large chunk of my adult life.  I’ve nurtured my blog and watched it develop into something I’m really proud of but it didn’t happen overnight.

I started my blog as a creative outlet. I didn’t have a clue about PR, marketing or advertising, aside from the adverts in between an episode of Corrie that I skipped as soon as my Sky box would allow me, and really I didn’t have a clue about how to blog.  I think that was the beauty about blogging back then, there were no rules.

I had just graduated from university when I started my blog and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.  I studied Criminology and then the Graduate Diploma in Law and as my degree progressed I knew that although I was fascinated by what I was studying, I didn’t want to work in that field.  I’ve never been a particularly creative person, always an academic however I did have a passion for make up, skin care and fashion.  After years of my friends asking me how I achieved a particular make up look or where I bought my handbag from, I decided it was about time that I shared my passion with like-minded people online.

I’d been watching beauty gurus on Youtube for about a year before I started blogging, I can even remember the first video from Imogen of Foxy Locks Extensions, where she vlogged from her messy bedroom in her parents house before she made her fortune with her hair extensions business.  The same goes for reading blogs like Zoe Sugg’s.  Yep I was there from the beginning of Zoella.  Writing online seemed like a very logical outlet for me to spill my thoughts on all things beauty and fashion related.  My friends and family weren’t as interested in the topic as I was but there was lots of girls online who were and joining the blogging community really gave me a sense of belonging.

Blogging has majorly evolved since I started out.  Granted, it has been around a lot longer than the last four or five years but it has really taken off in the last couple of years, especially in the fashion and beauty category.  Now it seems as though EVERYONE is doing it.  What once was something I shied away from telling my friends about because they ‘wouldn’t understand’ is now something to shout about.  But why are so many girls writing about lipstick now?  Is it because of a genuine passion for make up above and beyond the average girl or is it because of the jiffy bag arriving in the post from a PR agency?  I’m increasingly beginning to believe that it is the latter and I can’t help but think that the true essence of what blogging is about has been lost.

In the early days, I loved to read about the latest products and what my favourite bloggers thought about them.  I was becoming increasingly savvy to the retouching and the total manipulation of images in the media and I was tired of wasting what little money I had on products that didn’t work, all because of a TV advertisement; I guess you could say that I began to lose faith in brands.  However if a girl like me was sat at a computer using a product and loving it and I could see how well it worked for her then that would encourage me more than anything to give it a try for myself.  It’s the girl next door effect and I’ve seen more and more PRs brands catch on to the power of blogging in recent years and rightly so- it would be foolish not to as bloggers can really add credibility to a campaign.

Studying a master’s degree in PR alongside blogging has really given me a unique view of how blogging has evolved and how public relations has adapted to utilise bloggers through providing products to review, event invites and press releases.  However what I have also seen is a shift in the credibility of beauty blogging which I really think is starting to have a negative impact on PR.

Alongside the number of brands recognising bloggers, the number of bloggers has dramatically increased as well.  Undoubtedly there are thousands of bloggers out there who write beauty blogs for the love of it but there are so many who start writing with the aim of gaining freebies which is something that poses a great threat to PR practitioners as many are giving out free samples with the aim of securing a review but never actually gaining any coverage.  Many bloggers don’t understand how PR works and there is so much chat on Twitter about how they feel as though they should be paid to write posts which not only goes against everything that PR is about, it also throws its credibility out of the window.

While I can understand that payment should be exchanged in a marketing or advertising campaign, it is very different for public relations and this is often difficult for some bloggers to understand as they’re unaware that PR is a credible, earned media.  Something that I also think is jeopardising the credibility of PR is that more and more people are beginning to not trust the opinion of bloggers, particularly bloggers not trusting other bloggers, if the talk on Twitter is anything to go by.  Sometimes it is because the big bloggers are always gifted the same products but also paid to Instagram, Tweet and blog about the products and sometimes it’s because it can seem as though a blogger doesn’t want to give a brand a negative review because they’re concerned they’ll not get the opportunity to work with them again.  The trouble is that for every person who has been gifted an item for free there are hundreds out there who have bought the product themselves so if a blogger bends the truth and raves about a product when it isn’t actually all that great, their credibility as a reviewer is under jeopardy.  So many bloggers are sent the same products at the same time, which would make sense when there is a new launch for example, however a lot of the reviews are very similar to one another and a lot of readers really start to mistrust what is being said.

The same goes for YouTube.  I can remember the days when I would watch a YouTube video about how a particular blogger achieved their super volumised hair style and I would hang from their every word.  You could tell that they were really loving the products that they were talking about and that they had clearly took a lot of time to find out what works for them.  Fast forward a few years and I’m watching a similar video where a blogger who is a lover of high-end products is talking about their hair care routine.  Sounds like a great video from the outset, until they move onto the products they use and the first is Head and Shoulders, a super budget brand.  What they’re saying sounds as though it has come directly from a press release, as though they’re ticking off the boxes of the points they need to make and it is all falling on deaf ears.  A quick click into the description box and I can see the dreaded words ‘Disclaimer: Thanks for working with me on this video Head and Shoulders!’  So in other words, they’ve been paid to create the video and talk about the brand in it.  Whether they like the products or not doesn’t matter to me at this point because they’ve been paid to make the video and talk about them.  They’re not going to make a video telling you not to use these products because they’re rubbish so the credibility of that review goes out of the window to me and it is the mixing of marketing and PR techniques and the exchange of money that brings down the credibility of beauty blogging and vlogging in today’s world.  To me, it’s just the same as Cheryl Cole on a L’Oreal advert… but is it worth it?

What are your thoughts?

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Gemma Collins for Simply Be

Alright, alright so I promised my next post would be about unsuccessful celebrity collaborations with plus size fashion brands but then #AskThicke happened and everything got a bit viral up in Twitter land and I just had to write about it over here in Blogger Relations HQ.  My fingers have barely rested having been going ninety to the dozen on my keyboard for the last hour lol-ing at Robin Thicke and praying I never make a contribution to such an epic PR fail in the future, but I’m back now blogging about these unsuccessful celebrity ambassadors that I speak of.  Call it a bonus post for today…go on, I know you want it.

Ok, ok I’ll stop with the #AskThicke references.  That’s enough for one day.

So, where Beth Ditto and Evans and Gok Wan and Simply Yours succeeded, as I noted in what would have been my previous post, many celebrity and plus size fashion brand collaborations have failed and I think that is largely because of who they have chosen to represent their brand.  The major downfall I see is that the celebrity doesn’t remain loyal to the plus size community and the brand that they are working with.

Take Gemma Collins for example.  She’s at the top of the ranks when it comes to celebrities who say one thing and then do another.  She launched The Gemma Collins Collection back 2012 and to be fair to them, CAN, who I’m assuming were her PR team at the time, manage to secure some great media coverage for the her and they still do to this day.  However from the outset, Collins appeared to not practice what she preached in that before the line launched she was quoted as having said that she had created a line that all sizes could wear but then when it was launched it was only available in sizes 16 to 22.  She had already signed a deal to bring out a line with Simply Be that would see her range become available for a much larger size range however this wasn’t revealed for a few weeks after the first launch by which point she had received quite negative feedback from plus size women and influential fashion bloggers writing about the range, including Lauren of top plus size blog, Pocket Rocket Fashion.  To my knowledge the PR efforts didn’t stretch to include bloggers which I think was a little short sighted of the PR efforts because plus sized bloggers are hugely influential when it comes to plus sized fashion.  This is something that Simply Be really thrive on and they usually utilise plus size fashion bloggers very well, Gemma on the other hand, not so much.

When I first heard that Gemma was creating a fashion line and bringing it out with Simply Be I was so excited because I thought that her style would be very influential in giving those at the higher end of the plus size spectrum, myself included, that Essex charm and confidence to wear glamorous, colourful clothes filled with print and fun.  However where I think the Gemma Collins line for Simply Be went wrong was that when she was promoting the collection, she was all in favour of bigger women and being beautiful but then in separate interviews and in the TV show The Only Way Is Essex, she was constantly seen talking or even crying about how she hated how big she was and was constantly seen the be trying to lose weight.  That may be representative of a lot of plus size women but certainly not all of them and a lot of negative talk Gemma Collins on Twitter and Facebook was about how she was fat shaming, body shaming and making people feel bad about themselves which is surely going to be counterproductive.  Women don’t want to be preached to about plus size fashion and then read about how that figure-head is now fat bashing.  The Ramblings of Mrs BeBe blog writes an open letter to Gemma Collins that pretty much sums up the feeling of many plus size women.

Gemma Collins Boutique Image Source

Gemma Collins Boutique
Image Source

Add this together with rumours that she didn’t design all of the line and you’ve got a recipe for disaster when it comes to having someone represent your brand.  As a company, Simply Be are all about being YOU and being comfortable with whoever that is.  They make such an inclusive size range, from size 12 to 32, to try to avoid women from feeling excluded and as a brand, they’re all about empowering women, not putting them down.  Their whole philosophy is about making women feel and look good regardless of their size and it is something that they usually do very well but ultimately they were unable to control the reality TV show that Gemma features in (check out this great article about how TOWIE put down plus size women here) and they were unable to control what she said in interviews and on social media.  I really think that its a shame that Gemma’s big mouth could have put a dampener on what could have been a very great partnership between her and Simply Be, who sell online not only in the UK but in other European countries and in America.  Gemma is often quoted as saying that she wants to break into the American market and working with Simply Be could have really given her a foot in there.

Another downfall of her line with Simply Be was that she very rarely promoted it on social media whereas she was always promoting her own clothing ventures for the Gemma Collins Collection, including her online store and her retail boutique.  This kind of promotion she does very well including tweets of her favourite pieces, linking her pieces to current events that they could be worn to, or the weather, tweeting photos of herself in her garments and retweeting press coverage and customer photos however I very rarely saw it for the pieces on Simply Be.  It appeared as though she made a conscious effort to drive traffic to her own website where she would have been getting a far larger percentage of profit than if she had driven traffic to the Simply Be website.  Simply Be do not appear to have any new collections from Gemma Collins so I would imagine that they are phasing out her line and not collaborating with her in the future although there hasn’t been a statement released to say whether or not this is true.  However I have looked online to find that Gemma has brought her collection to Very, another home shopping, catalogue style brand and she is doing the same thing with them whereby she isn’t really promoting them on her social networks, she is instead pushing traffic to the same pieces that are listed on her own website via Twitter and Instagram.

Perhaps it was never in her contract with Simply Be or Very to promote the range on social media and therefore she isn’t legally obliged but it seems very silly not to.  The Gemma Collection has actually done really well for Gemma, who scooped the prize of Best Designer at the British Plus Size Awards in 2013 and is set to host the awards ceremony in 2014.  However the vast majority of her range stops at a 24, effectively alienating the rest of the plus size market and gives the impression that there’s fat and then there’s too fat which of course is a load of rubbish.   This doesn’t tend to sit very well with plus size bloggers who, like me, advocate confidence and wearing whatever you like and as a result, she hasn’t been very well received by the plus size blogging community and she isn’t doing much to change that which has resulted in a lack of support and blog posts against her line rather than for it.

I think that Gemma Collins does incredibly well for HERSELF and shes’ a great spokesperson and sales woman for her own brand, I just don’t she represents other brands as well as she does her own.

What are your thoughts?  Let me know in the comments!

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In The Thicke of an Epic PR Fail

Blurred Lines singer Robin Thicke is no doubt feeling a little red faced this evening after a PR exercise hit the ground running… right into the thick of it.

Robin Thicke Image Source

Robin Thicke
Image Source

Thicke is already a very controversial celebrity thanks to his misogynistic lyrics,  racy videos, relationship with estranged wife Paula and frolicks on stage with Miley Cyrus.  He isn’t someone who you would struggle to poke fun at, God knows he’s already added enough fuel to the fire himself, so why on earth would his PR think that it would be a tremendous idea to agree to host a question and answer session with him on Twitter?!  Surely things like this are arranged at meetings?! Someone at Thicke HQ could anticipate the backlash coming before the excrement had even hit the fan?

Clearly not it would seem as users were asked to leave questions for Thicke using the hashtag #AskThicke on the VH1 Twitter Page.

Thickes never ending stream of twitter trolls were out in force and quickly caught onto a source of entertainment at the entertainers expense by going to town with insults regarding the star.  Some took the moral high ground by using the #AskThicke hashtag as a way of addressing their views on the way he treats women (if you haven’t heard Blurred Lines, then where have you been? Check it out above) whereas other Twitter users took the opportunity to ridicule him, either scenario yielded thousands upon thousands of tweets, the majority of which I found hilarious, and got the hashtag trending.  In essence, #AskThicke went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Needless to say, the buzz on Twitter today has had me literally ROFL-ing.  Here’s some of my favourites:

Pretty funny, even though I feel like a naughty school girl giggling in class…

VH1 are yet to respond or comment back to anything relating to #AskThicke on Twitter.  Perhaps they’re trying to keep quiet in the hope that the next viral sensation will take over soon or that their involvement will go relatively unnoticed, with the mocking criticism will remain on Thicke.  The focus really does seem to be on the singer and I haven’t really noted anyone commenting on VH1’s involvement, after all had they constructed the questions for their interview with Thicke themselves, rather than engaging with the public, which surely would have been a much smarter move for such a controversial singer, then they might not have ended up in the same situation.  Either way, the beautifully ugly reality of social media is that once you’ve got a story it can run and run so the Thicke Trolls may well be dining out on this one for many days to come.

I sincerely hope Robin Thicke’s single doesn’t climb higher in the charts after this. Instead, check out the top tweets using the #AskThicke hashtag. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving!

What is your take on #AskThicke?  Comedy gold or are you bored already?

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Brand and Celebrity Collaborations in Plus Size Fashion

For the last four years I’ve seen celebrity brand ambassadors and collaborations come and go in the plus size fashion world and whilst there are a lot of things that fashion has to thank plus size companies for one of them is not those who they choose to represent their brand.  Generally, this is something that I find plus size fashion companies do particularly badly in that I feel as though they jump on the person who is hot right now but may not necessarily be right for the brand by the time the season comes to an end.  In today’s post I’m going to share with you those partnerships that I think have worked particularly well for plus size fashion brands and then in my some of my posts to follow, I will look at those collaborations that I don’t think have worked particularly well.

Lets start with the positive.

Beth Ditto for Evans Image Source

Beth Ditto for Evans
Image Source

Many moons ago, Evans, who stock sizes 14 to 32, released a clothing collection with Beth Ditto who was the face of the line.  The fat, feminist, outspoken lesbian who fronts the band the Gossip was quite a clever yet radical choice for the brand that was otherwise known as a stockist of quite safe, mumsy, slightly older fashion.  The Beth Ditto collection became a fun and quirky addition to Evans and featured items such as domino print leggings and a stained glass print prom dress.  While these items may not seem too funky now, back in 2009, they were very far away from what was available on the plus size market and were what some people were longing for in plus size fashion.  Together they even received a positive write-up in the Daily Mail which is quite an achievement for a plus size brand as their efforts are usually shot down in flames in articles and certainly in the comments forums when they’re posted online.

Beth Ditto worked amazingly well as a representative of the Evans brand not only because she was plus size herself but because she spoke out against clothing stores who limit their sizing policy and she really spoke volumes in support of bigger women.  As a fashionista, Ditto had been highly commended for her loud, eighties inspired style and her fashion sense was and still is, admired by women of all shapes and sizes.  Evans very much got it right by getting Ditto on board and what made it work is that she stayed true to herself and the brand throughout her time working them.  Her clothing line was international success and led to future lines with the brand but I don’t think that it was just the clothes alone that made the pieces sell, it was Ditto herself.

I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to be plus size yourself to be able to style or design for plus size women, although it does greatly help.  At the very least you need to have a firm understanding of what it is like to be plus sized, the struggle bigger women face and what they want from a brand.  One such collaborator who knows this very well is Gok Wan who has released several lingerie collections with Simply Be and Simply Yours who are both part of the home shopping N Brown group.  While Gok is far from being a plus sized woman, he has spoken widely about his love for the curvier woman and has styled many bigger women to give them a confidence boost on his TV shows so one can deem him to know what he is talking about.  That gives him credibility.  Gok Wan continued to have a great deal of success with his lingerie line and released many collections with the Simply brands.  He even won the award for best stylist at the British Plus Size Awards in 2013.

What makes Gok Wan a good brand ambassador in plus size fashion is that he is an expert in his field in that he understands the plus size figure.  He has an infectious personality that really inspires plus size women and gets them on board.  He represents the brand well because he continually has the same outlook in that he isn’t representing a plus size brand one minute and then slagging off bigger women in the press the next; he is genuine and reliable.

In complete contrast. my next post will look at those collaborations that either weren’t the best choice or have fallen flat on their face.

Who do you think is good representative of a brand?  Which collaborations have you most enjoyed?

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