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How do you scale “Members Only” Gilt free excess?

It’s hard enough for the average worker to concentrate on their job responsibilities with easy access to Facebook, Youtube/Hulu and the grand old dame of all workplace distractions, instant messenger . However,  a burgeoning Internet addiction has seized  over 750,000 people as they religiously log on to Gilt Groupe at 12:oo pm EST sharp on a daily basis, to take advantage of  50-70% discounts on high end fashion labels such as Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, John Varvatos, etc.


Even creepy Karl knows to run, not walk to a Gilt Groupe sale!

Founded by two Harvard MBAs, Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, with seed investment from Doubleclick founder Kevin Ryan and an additional $5mm infusion of capital from Matrix Partners; the Gilt Groupe has become a symbol of how yuppies can still keep up with latest trends amidst turbulent economic times.The Gilt Groupe first launched in 2007 and immediately focused on maintaining an air of exclusivity given that one technically had to be “invited” to become a member. The site solely targeted women at first however, has added a men’s section as word of mouth buzz grew and the public’s appetite for bargains grew in inverse proportion to the Dow.

Mayband and Wilson or “A&A” to their employees have leveraged their respective experiences at ebay, Louis Vitton and Bulgari to impressively launch an Internet start up that is generating actual cash flow and reportedly had gross revenue of $20+ MM in 2007. The Gilt Groupe currently holds 25 sales per week and has recently turned to display advertising on contextually relevant fashion/lifestyle sites in an attempt to drive increased membership and awareness of the service.

This recent aggression does raise the question if  promoting to the masses will severely compromise the Gilt Groupe’s core competencies and value proposition. How can this emerging site  force balance expansion and credibility and “jump the shark” so to speak and  avoid becoming e-commerce’s version of NBC’s “Heroes” ? If the masses all become members of the Gilt Groupe or it becomes too accessible, will it no longer be “cool”? Additionally, will the company be able to supply enough product to meet demand or will only the most diligent be able to reap the rewards of bargain basement couture?

Prospective Gilt Groupe Members in 2010?

Prospective Gilt Groupe Members in 2010?

A&A maintain that the inventory is readily available as designer desperately yearn other cost-effective channels to distirbute their products. Additionally, it appears that the Gilt Groupe is adhering to the Web 2.0 mantra of developing “community”.Similar to any smart brand they have  “listened” to their customers and recently offered greater value on shipping rates and exchange policies in addition to enabling the sites with RSS feeds to keep track of upcoming sales.

Word of Mouth has made Gilt Groupe a hit with men as well!

Word of Mouth has made Gilt Groupe a hit with men as well!

Lastly, members of the Gilt Groupe have been continuously incentivized to have members of their social  graph  register and buy as $25 “credit” is bestowed for bringing aboard another paying members. They even have a slick dashboard set up so members can monitor their personal marketing activity, seeing which emails were opened, who registered and what was purchased. The bet here is that Gilt continues these practices and implements voting and sharing tools in the next couple months to take take even further advantage of their rising popularity. In the interim, email me here if you would like to be invited to the Gilt Groupe because daddy needs some new shoes and a sweatshirt too 🙂

Pepsi – The Choice of an New/Old Generation

Another NFL season has come and gone and with it one of the more entertaining Super Bowls in recent memory. The modern day Super Bowl now has three main cornerstones; the game itself, the halftime musical act that MUST appeal  to 75% of United States populace and of course, the multi-million dollar television commercial spot.

This  years commercials were somewhat lackluster however, this may be very well  due to the fact that I ingested 6 different types of animal/species during the game. Cow, shrimp, crab, pig, chicken, salmon were all consumed in a showing of excess so disgusting that it would make Caligula himself blush.  According to Ad Age, Pepsi was the big winner of the day as its ads accounted for 19% of the share of voice among the top 10 most-talked-about advertisers. Additionally, the Pepsi-Cola brand appeared to dominate the increasingly important Twitter conversation. Evidently, anything involving causes early adopters to fire up their Tweetdeck/Twitterifics or whatever the go to app is of the day. The only reason Twitter did not completely shut down was the oversight on Pepsi’s part to not use the election day hologram in the commercial. 


How did Pepsi manage to stand out from all the other brands doing the holiest of Sundays you might ask? Well, first off their spots combined to to fill about six minutes of the available airtime (including other Pepsi brands, Sobe and Doritos). Pepsi which is always trying to fatten up the youth by appealing to the teenybopper generation, ironically used pop culture icons from the past in the majority of it’s spots. Most memorable, was the unintentionally funny comparison of Boy Dylan and the aforementioned Black Eyed Pea’s frontman I’ve got nothing personal against as,  he seems like a nice enough guy and has single handedly tried to revive the Union Civil war hat as a fashion accessory. However, even the most naive teenager or suburban mom  isn’t buying this symbolism. Nonetheless, the ad was effective in the sort of look what’s old is new, what’ new is old way!  According to Paul Simon, every generation sends a hero up the pop charts and loves Rayban Wayfarers!



Union Hat

Of all three I suppose  the Pebsuber spot was the most entertaining as it leveraged both the SNL “Macgruber”skits and an ancient looking Richard Dean Anderson from the original “MacGyver” series. Unfortunately,  this ad also made me reach for the prozac,  because whenever I see a supposedly  handsome, 80’s TV star that look like they are a few years away from dementia; it tends to make me question my own mortality. What’s next ? Tom Selleck using a rascal to get around Hawaii?

So at the end of the day, I guess civil war hat’s off to Pepsi. They accomplished what they set out to do by blending cold hard cash, rock legends and cheesy 80’s action series. However, I do think there’s one 80’s icon ripe for using  to get those kids guzzling delicous, cold pepsi. Words can’t really do this guy/dog  justice so just watch thc clip below. I know “Stylez” for one is probably looking for work.



Nike iD provides ultimate customization…even on Display Ads!

I’ve designed a couple pairs of shoes via Nike iD in my unheralded “stylist” career. One pair was inspired by the 80’s Lakers and the other by a desire for sneakers that don’t look ready made for a space exploration. The value proposition of the Nike iD product is that the user maintains creative control in an extremely easy, user-friendly experience. I managed to pull of my shoe executions despite the fact I have as much design savvy as the guy that commissioned “Whiskey Pete’s” outside of Vegas and the poor soul who designed these below. (And no, it’s not me! )

Recently, Nike’s digital agency, Razorfish collaborated with Watercooler Sports and Federated Media to translate the product’s level of customization to their display advertising efforts. (Disclosure: I work for FM) The Watercooler platform enables television and sports fans to connect. Over 20 million users have joined Watercooler fan communities on leading social networks including Facebook, MySpace, etc.

Nike ID tapped into these communities’ individual identities by having the display ads automatically reflect the team colors. Note the screenshots below where ads served on the New Orleans Hornets and San Francisco 49ers Watercooler Apps featured Nikes complete with team colors. (red and white for 49ers, teal and white for Hornets) Nice to see advertising dynamically reflecting product attributes!

Linkedin adds Applications that allow me to be even more self-indulgent.

Recently, Linkedin has “opened up” their platform to applications so one can craft an even more robust and self-promoting profile. Now I can display this poorly written blog to even more people and also search what people are saying about my company, Federated Media. BTW, it’s mostly positively “tweets” about FM! I wish I could say the same about my blog 🙂

Currently, there are only about 10 apps available however, pretty soon I would expect I will be able to  “throw some dentures” at someone I once collaborated on a project with or invite my colleagues to add a “HR -Benefits” widget. Screenshots of the WordPress and Company Buzz Apps below.

Old Spice’s Swagger Campaign helping “nobodies” such as myself optimize their “search equity”.

Old Spice has recently launched an innovative online campaign that allows one to populate the web with content that significantly enhances one’s achievements and overall “swagger” which is colloquial language for having “game” or in meathead dude parlance, “the ability to score chicks broseph!”

Display ads across “guy” sites featuring virile 18-24 year old males invite users to enter the Old Spice factory.

Banner Ads Invite you to gain some "Swagger"

Banner Ads featuring Isaac from "The Love Boat " invite you to gain "Swagger"

You Optimize your attributes in an Old Spice branded environment

You Optimize your attributes in an Old Spice branded environment

After building out your profile and entering your name, email address and uploading a picture you are now ready to trick the Internet a’ la Jayson Blair.

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