Bloggers Mean Business
Chapter 3 discusses a new environment where there is a back and forth between the individual and big corporations. As mentioned already in this week’s blog postings, there are often smaller groups of people who work on creative projects that benefit the whole in the creative industries. Annie talked about individuals who brand themselves within a company, and I would like to take this idea and explore it in the realm of bloggers, in particular fashion bloggers and their relationship to the fashion industry.
Over the past few years, fashion bloggers have become a standard in the industry. But most of the time, they aren’t working for any particular designer or company, they are in the business of branding themselves. An article from AdWeek, “Bloggers Mean Business,” explores this unique relationship. Fashion bloggers have the ability to use their strong base of followers to market other fashion brands through a variety of partnerships, for instance people have acted as guest bloggers, models, designers, and endorsers for fashion brands. The article gives us the example of What I Wore, a fashion blog by Jessica Quirk, who also happens to be a Bloomington local! Quirk has blogged as a “brand ambassador” for TIMEX and has also written pieces for Anne Taylor LOFT as well as publicized various brands on her own website by posting photos of herself in various fashions. “These brands could hire a celebrity spokesperson. Instead they’ve hired a celebrity spokesperson who has her own distribution channel,” notes the article.
Another example comes to us from the handbag and accessory brand, Coach, which noted in 2009 that “bloggers, not magazine editors, were driving social conversations online.” They decided to hire four bloggers to custom design Coach handbags and have them promote the products on their personal blogs and other social media sites (such as Facebook and Twitter). The result – the bags quickly sold out. There are several other examples given in the AdWeek article, which I encourage you to read.
Like celebrities, bloggers have started to charge large fees for appearances or agreements to promote fashion brands (sometimes ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 for collaborations). Things also become interesting when you discuss endorsement contracts, which aren’t as black and white as when working with the usual celebrity talent paired with cut and dry advertising. “Unlike a celebrity, bloggers offer a package—Facebook fans, blog visitors, Twitter followers—and need to engage free of wording restrictions and exclusivity clauses.”
The relationship between the blog world and the fashion world is an interesting one, and it seems that many designers and brands are taking note of the market effects bloggers have on the industry. Bloggers are essentially independent agents, but to be “in the business of blogging,” it has come to mean partnerships with any number of companies. This is a prime example of how media companies “now have to find ways to incorporate their audiences as colleagues in the creative process” (Deuze 95) in order to be successful. One final questions – in what other industries does this type of relationship between an organization and outside “brand ambassadors” exist?
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