We needed to drive engagement in H&M and its support for the Fall fashion collection, "LadyLike," elevating the campaign beyond the arena of fashion and creating a clear and credible connection between message and brand.
A fashion brand's success hinges on challenging current conventions, breaking the existing rules and establishing new ones. In unveiling its Fall collection, "LadyLike," H&M wanted to be at the forefront of a cultural shift towards expression, freedom and empowerment that comes from celebrating modern female heroines. The title of the collection was meant to redefine a term that has been used to repress women and reappropriate the expectations people have of the modern female. Something easier said than done.
While the theme of the collection is to help establish a new bedrock, we needed to craft the narrative behind it. Where other brands have tried and failed, H&M needed to establish an ongoing conversation with its customers about its brand in the context of their total wardrobe and use in any occasion. Our challenge was to help women develop an empowered mental context of what LadyLike set out to do and how they can use it to display their confidence and personal branding to the world.
There are infinite ways to be a lady – but the only rule is self-expression. Within that rule, we realized that H&M couldn't just be an outfit or retailer, but a platform for how they wanted to feel at this moment of their lives. We could not and did not want to change who they were but we could develop H&M as a vehicle for their story.
The layers of self-expression hold a special place for the influencers successfully embodying and implementing qualities they admire, giving them an opportunity to absorb and reapply information into their own persona. What we realized was that an influencer didn't necessarily have to be a real person, they could be fictional as long as they identified with their story, challenges and successes.
Using this context, we identified Wattpad, an up-and-coming self-publishing story platform gaining increased momentum among women. Successful authors have built substantial followings engrossed in the stories and characters they've built up. Within this platform, we saw the opportunity to identify the characters who successfully embody the modern women and continue these stories using H&M as a supporter of each story's heroine.
With Wattpad, we partnered with popular authors to continue the stories of their iconic characters, utilizing H&M fashion to create new stories and bonus chapters. Within each story, H&M's fall outfits illustrated the heroine's personality and the particular mood and scene. The outfits were then displayed at the end of the bonus chapter, allowing readers to comment and immediately click through to hm.com to buy their favorite heroine's look.
For example: "I stopped at the bookstore, trying not to get too many books for my girls, but failing miserably. Hugh was railing me to no end for being such a Mom when I spotted H&M's showcase windows. There was a pair of gray killer boots that caught my attention. Biting my lip, I ignored Hugh's complaints and made my way to the store."
We understood the choice of influencer would be key in determining the success of the campaign and carefully selected five female authors with established audiences clamoring for new content. As an example, Gaby Cabezut was one of these influencers. With a Wattpad following of over 370,000 readers, the opportunity to reach captive readers at scale was readily apparent.
We were able to track conversions through the Wattpad system, effectively establishing a brand new e-commerce platform within fictional stories – a media-first for any brand.
By enlisting five bankable, popular writers, H&M achieved resounding success in the commissioned story and influencer content, exceeding commissioned story read benchmarks by over 150%.
H&M attained over 130,000 reads on its commissioned stories, more than 2.5x benchmarks. We received a whopping 436,000 brand engagements, with over 1,200,000 minutes spent engaging with the branded stories.
Readers applauded H&M's sponsorship of their favorite stories, clamoring for H&M to bring them more bonus chapters. Comments showed that readers understood H&M's goal of challenging stereotypes, as per the comment below from just one of our readers:
"What happened is dreadful and I was really surprised when I read this chapter. As this is a collaboration with H&M, I expected something more upbeat like a girls' night out for the sisters. When I thought about it, I realized that finding clothes for times of grief and bereavement is more tricky than joyous occasions. Most places stock party/wedding clothes but for somber times, it's more difficult. I loved Isobel's clothes, especially the versatile wool coat. So much I intend to check for it (and perhaps the trousers) in my nearest H&M."