20 October 2012

Jenna Marbles and the Rise of YouTube

We have entered an era where technology has taken over the traditional ways we used to communicate. Instead of telephoning someone, we text them on our mobiles; instead of sending a friend a letter to invite them to our birthday, we make a Facebook event; instead of ranting to our Mums about the mean man on the train that wouldn't move across so that we could have a seat, we rant in a tweet. We read our social networking news feeds like they are the morning paper. We are so connected in today's society that news travels obscenely fast, and the longing for fresh, new information means that we are spending a large chunk of our waking lives staring at computer and mobile phone screens. 

This constant sharing and interacting has had a knock on effect, and is now giving ordinary people that wouldn't usually get the time of day a spotlight to shine.  Celebrities used to become celebrities because they had talent, now apparently if you don't have talent, but a stupid song with a video that people can laugh at, then you get the go ahead to become famous. 

Cue American pop 'singer' Rebecca Black with Friday, whose YouTube video became an online sensation overnight with over one million views:


And the latest YouTube sensation, who has broken the record with the highest number of views on the video sharing site ever (516 million and counting)! Say hello to South Korean rapper Psy with Gangnam Style: 


The horse dance that can be seen so beautifully executed in the video has been replicated by today's youth in nightclubs up and down the country. Admittedly, I have been one of them!

But... It's not just in nightclubs! Last night Kane and I went to TGI's for a meal and halfway through chomping on our Jack Daniels chicken we were interrupted by Gangnam Style on the stereo system, on full blast, while the waiters and waitresses paraded around us trying to copy the moves seen in the video. It was ridiculous, but certainly livened up our meal! 

It just proves that YouTube sensations are taking over our lives! Not just through online platforms anymore, but offline as well. 

I think this is fine if the 'sensation' has genuine talent, but I'm not convinced Rebecca Black, or even Psy, does. I suppose he can dance the horse dance well. 

Now, Jenna Marbles is a character that my friends and I have been talking about a lot lately. I think she should be the next YouTube sensation as she actually has talent! Her video concepts, and the content in them, are genuinely humorous and entertaining! And it works because she is a down to earth, normal girl just talking about issues that we can relate to in every day life.

This is one of my favourite videos of hers about how girls always overpack suitcases:


Jenna Marbles is someone that actually deserves the spotlight to shine and, with her YouTube following increasing each day, it looks like she might get it. 

Support genuine talent, not just the latest fad. Go, Jenna! 

Menswear Trend Spotlight for AW12: Cruel Sea

One of the hottest looks for men for A/W 12 is Cruel Sea, winter's take on the nautical theme of S/S 12.

Stripes are still very much involved, with the traditional red, white and blue colour palette evolving to include Autumnal shades of berry, ivory and navy. 

Along with the A/W 12 wardrobe staple of chinos, this look also entails cable knit jumpers, boating-style smock jackets, sturdy boots (white sole preferable) and, of course, the horizontal striped tees and shirts that S/S 12 made imperative to the nautical trend.

The look is showcased here through the Debenhams hotspot that I had to dress to this trend recently, using products by young fashion brands Red Herring, J Jeans by Jasper Conran, Mantaray and St. George by Duffer:

Guys, it's essentially the coolest way to look like you own a boat without actually owning one!

14 October 2012

"Life Made Fabulous" at Debenhams

I'm currently visual merchandising for Debenhams so I'm starting to learn a lot in terms of the company and its products.

Debenhams is a mid-market family department store with a main focus on fashion and beauty, but it also sells homeware. It has a comprehensive private label portfolio, with brands such as Red Herring, Bluezoo and Maine New England, as well as a designer label portfolio, with brands such as Star by Julien Macdonald, Jasper Conran and John Rocha.

Debenhams is a top three department store retailer, with M&S (UK non-food) and John Lewis at number one and two respectively. The store that I am currently working in is Leeds White Rose, which is the top seven UK store in the company in terms of sales and shopping experience. I am proud to be working for such a reputable company and enjoying learning new knowledge and skills.

But I just wanted to talk a little bit about Debenhams' marketing and their debut campaign 'Life Made Fabulous'.

Debenhams is seen by some people as the cheaper, more accessible department store compared to competitors John Lewis, House of Fraser and Harrods. This is because its brands' customer profiles vary from young fashion (Henry Holland's 17-25 target age group) to older, more sophisticated fashion (John Rocha's 35-45 target age group); therefore Debenhams' young fashion brands have to account for the fact that the younger generation are extremely price-conscious at the moment due to the recession and growing youth unemployment, and are having to offer good value for money. But its current campaign is very clever in trying to upmarket Debenhams' image. The 'Life Made Fabulous' tagline gives off glamorous and positive connotations, selling a luxurious lifestyle that consumers will want to be part of.

The TV advert is extremely well done, showcasing each designer (Julien Macdonald, John Rocha and Henry Holland) manufacturing the clothes before switching to smiley, happy models, in various settings acting young and carefree, wearing the clothes. This, coupled with Two Door Cinema Club's 'This is the Life' song, is super effective with its message suggesting that if you shop at Debenhams, you will not only look fabulous, but feel fabulous, and lead a fabulous life.

Check it out, here:


Debenhams, ya done good ol' girl.

7 October 2012

Destiny for Gap: My Final Year University Project

My final year Uni project involved two stages: research and implementation. It was all about the fact that I, theoretically, discovered a business opportunity for Gap (UK) to launch a new sub-brand.

Market Research

Initial company and casualwear market research revealed that the Gap UK brand, unlike key competitors A&F, Hollister, Jack Wills and Superdry, is experiencing a decline in sales, profit and market share.

Conducting a consumer survey showed that Gap has an older, loyal customer base, but they are not currently satisfying the needs of 18-24 year old consumers who are seeking more ‘new’, ‘unique’, ‘exciting’ and ‘trendier’ clothing.

I expressed my belief that Gap should look to build loyalty in a sector with disposable income where young people are forming brand allegiances and making purchasing choices for life, and bridge the gap from GapKids to the mainline, through a new sub-brand aimed at the 18-24 market.

Consumer Segmentation

Survey results confirmed that a small proportion of 18-24s form the existing ‘functional’ consumer segment, who occasionally shop at Gap for functional basics, but the majority of 18-24s form the new ‘fashion-forward’ consumer segment, who should be the target priority.

However, the sub-brand should cater for both consumer segments with a USP of using sustainable fabrics across the whole product range to tie in with Gap Inc’s high quality and ethical standards. The sub-brand’s identity and name should be created around the idea of the future, as sustainable products are the future of the fashion industry.


It should be called Destiny, and its logo should state ‘for Gap’ in order to create a more fashionable image for the parent brand.

The Marketing Mix (The Four P's)

Its first product range should be based on the S/S 13 trends and follow the ‘good, better, best’ system, improving in fashionability, quality, sustainability and increasing in price from ‘good’ to ‘best’.

Initial research found a gap in the UK casualwear market for a brand with a low-mid market price positioning. However, Destiny should adopt a more mid-market price positioning due to the higher costs of sustainable fabrics. Its RRP’s should still fall between Topshop/Topman and H&M, and be more affordable than Gap, in line with feedback from a focus group.

Destiny should be treated as a trial and sold as a concession in Gap’s largest flagship store, on Oxford Street in London, as well as having its own section of Gap’s website.

Financial Implications

Conducting a three year sales forecast, with profit and loss accounts, showed that Destiny would make a loss during year one, break even in year two and make a decent profit in year three – due to extra marketing spend to build a profile for the brand in years one and two, before resuming the norm in year three.

Half of the 10% marketing spend budget in year one should go towards a S/S 13 communication strategy, to raise awareness of the launch of Destiny and drive WOM, store footfall and website hits. 

This should be a four-part strategy with the creative campaign idea of ‘Be Ahead of Time’ to communicate the brand’s future themed identity and sustainable product range.

The first part would consist of a competition for young designers and an in store, PR, catwalk show launch event. The second part would involve regional advertising in London through outdoor and print mediums.

Then the third part would involve in store marketing through the concession’s fixtures in the flagship, and print advertising through posters and flyers in all Gap stores.

The final part would involve online advertising on their website and social media platforms (such as Facebook and YouTube), as well as utilising SEO.

This campaign would be implemented from June 2012 to January 2013 and, after conducting research, would cost £246,439.44.

Measuring Success and Future Recommendations

Success would be measured by reviewing sales performance, monitoring website and social media page hits, analysing flagship store traffic, monitoring press coverage and implementing customer surveys. Then an A/W 13 communication strategy could be launched.

After the first two years of business, the sub-brand would have the opportunity to roll out into more Gap stores, expand its product offer or conduct a completely standalone trial through its own store and website.

Even though this was a theoretical project, I felt strongly that the launch of Destiny for Gap would be a success. This is because it is a brand built on the strong foundations of a differentiated marketing led strategy, ahead of its time, catering for the 18-24 market and bridging the gap between Gap Kids and the mainline - ultimately increasing sales, profit and market share for the parent Gap Brand.

(Note: This post contains original copy, artwork and ideas by myself, as well as images courtesy of Gap, Corbis and WGSN.)

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