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Viral Fashion Campaigns: Are Fashion Brands Reconsidering their Marketing Stunts?


Photo by Manny Moreno

Viral fashion has been a lucrative tool for fashion companies in the past, who've increased their brand visibility by generating buzz and excitement around their products. But are some of these viral fashion campaigns creating the opposite effect and attracting more negative feedback? Of course, most companies don't want to draw in backlash that could potentially damage their brand reputation. 

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What is Viral Fashion?
First, let's discuss the meaning and purpose of viral fashion stunts. Any trend or style that quickly gains popularity and buzz, particularly on social media platforms are considered viral. In other words, when someone speaks about a short video, fashion show, clothing piece, or accessory that's being discussed in online communities, by way of influencers, or the use of hashtags, it simply means that it's captured the attention of a large number of people. This can lead to positive or negative reactions, depending on whether people are inspired or offended by the fashion stunt. 

Why do Fashion Brands Focus on Viral Campaigns?
The intention of most fashion brands when creating these stunts is never to spark a negative reaction, although sometimes this happens. Because they're so many companies competing for the attention of consumers, viral stunts can lead to increased sales and visibility, especially in the fast-paced world of social media. The goal is to capture attention without causing unsettling feelings among viewers. Consider these factors as reasons for implementing a viral fashion campaign.

1. Increased Brand Awareness: One of the main objectives is to reach a larger audience by generating millions of impressions and views.

2. Increased Engagement: Viral fashion stunts can encourage followers on social media to engage through likes, comments, and shares. This can ultimately lead to increased sales and revenue.

3. Authenticity and Relatability: One of the best strategies to increase engagement and conversions is to become relatable to your audience. Anything that creates a sense of authenticity and genuineness can resonate with viewers and initiate excitement about a brand. 

4. Relevancy: Fashion trends come and go. Many of them also repeat themselves overtime. Consider many of the 80s trends that are back, such as the oversized blazers and cropped jeans. Campaigns that are designed to be timely and relevant can generate more buzz among consumers.

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Are Fashion Brands Increasingly Concerned About Generating Backlash?
The short answer is, yes. While viral marketing can bring about a lot of buzz, there's always the possibility of potential drawbacks. Consider the recent backlash in 2022 from the Balenciaga ad scandal. Some brands, however, have attracted more attention (not necessarily negative), because of their unfamiliar stunts, such as Black Tape Project's fashion duct tape as well as Coperni's liquid fiber dress introduced on the runway. In 2021, Gucci created a viral campaign called "Gucci Fest," which was a seven-day virtual fashion film festival.

Although brands should consider the potential consequences of viral marketing campaigns, some of these stunts are seen as authentic and futuristic. Because transparency and moral correctness have become more important, brands must carefully balance the desire for attention with maintaining integrity and fairness. Take for instance, the trend towards sustainable fashion  in a world where companies must integrate environmental initiatives into their business strategies. Therefore, it's important to recognize the potential risks with viral marketing before launching a campaign and align it with the brand's values and overall goals. 


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