How a Social Media Collaboration can Create Branding Magic

[This post was originally published on the Dash Hudson blog.]

Tommy Hilfiger is back at it again with the ever so magnetic Gigi Hadid… And, you guessed it, Barbie.

And it was just as magical as you would have imagined. 🌈

We’re no stranger to Tommy Hilfiger’s social media prowesses on this blog. His brand marketing savvy and capacity to hit the gas pedal with a sledgehammer each time fashion week rolls around are quite impressive. But things really reached another level when he was introduced to Gigi Hadid.

A quick recap: Gigi first came onto Tommy’s radar after a his casting director infamously and begrudgingly put her in their show in 2015, in probably the most covered up look she’s ever worn. That image of her in the poncho strutting down the catwalk ended up getting so much buzz that brand identity maestro Tommy figured they should do a collection with the celebutante to really capitalize on the hoopla. Smart.

The next step was the Tommy cruise ship and the InstaPit, aka the first time G-unit was officially given the spotlight by T-payne. She opened and closed the show that season, but also played the starring role in all of Tommy’s leveraged social media channels, including a Snapchat takeover. They even announced their design collaboration a few days prior to the whole thing going down to maximize the hype. Organic social advertising, basically.

Quite a coup? Yup.

But wait, it’s not over. The following season, aka September 2016, was the unveiling of the Tommy x Gigi first-ever collection, which was to be part of the whole “see now buy now” movement. They did a stellar job at teasing the affair across their visual touchpoints (complete with a View appearance, no less), and it was a huge commercial success. Some of the pieces sold out that same night. That’s what happens when you shut down the South Street Sea Port in New York City and coin it a carnival.

Taking a cue from the Angels?

It was hard to imagine how the Tommy Hilfiger team would ever come up with an idea that could top such a killer, impressive tour de force on the next go ‘round. Lo and behold, they moved the party to the West Coast this season and gave it — what else?! — a festival theme. There was Fergie, there was Gaga, the sisterhood of the traveling Tommy show, a whole lotta bloggers, and… Barbie?! Actually, she was also there last year, but flew a little under the radar then.

That’s right, everyone’s favorite disproportionate blonde also got in on the action, even creating a doll with Gigi’s features. The @barbiestyle account posted a total of 7 times to promote the Tommy x Gigi show, 5 of which performed higher than their 2.74% average, which is already astronomical.

They inserted the link to shop the collection in their account bio, just like they had done last season, but their promotional content this time was way more plentiful, and even included a Stories reel. This cross-brand strategy is a genius way to go about brand-building if your partners are on point.

Gigi, arguably a real life Barbie, really resonated with the @barbiestyle audience.

Commissioning the all-American doll for a collaboration during their fashion show has been a brilliant strategy on Tommy’s part. It seems like the brand was test-running the partnership back in September, as it only yielded two posts, compared to a whopping 7 last week, plus an Insta Story. Clearly, it proved to be successful enough to amplify the scope this time around.

And it makes so much sense to co-brand with Mattel on this: Gigi Hadid is widely known for her all-American girl image, which is precisely Barbie’s claim to fame. In fact, Gigi posted an image of herself as a doll, just chillin’ like a villain with Babs, which showered the @barbiestyle account with over 27K new followers in 24 hours. Their average is 1,184 per day. I’ll give you a second to digest that statistic.

Gigi, we’re gonna go out on a limb and say Mattel thanks you.

Gigi continues to be extremely on-brand for Tommy Hilfiger. When looking at their account’s best performing posts, their top 10 highest engagement of all time are all images of Gigi.

This is just the top 8, but it continues on.

In fact, they can pretty much guarantee that when they post a photo of her, it will outperform their average engagement rate every.single.time.

All the Tommy x Gigi pics from this week crushed it.

The Tommy Hilfiger account added — wait for it — over 52k new followers over the course of the two days surrounding the show. While we can’t speak to sales, it’s pretty safe to say that the whole affair was a branding triumph.

The honors for the most liked image of the entire show went to none other than Gigi herself with this post:

Tommy Hilfiger has been nailing pretty much every element of this ongoing Gigi Hadid phase, which seems to have brought some life and personality back into the brand. Tommy is creating an important moment in pop culture and it seems like the world is on board.

Including Barbie.

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