How to get your brand to go viral / by Rachel Ford

Waiting in line for hours to buy a limited-edition designer collaboration out of the back of a truck? This has 'viral' written all over it. Image: Ford Marketing Lab/Kyle Ford.

Waiting in line for hours to buy a limited-edition designer collaboration out of the back of a truck? This has 'viral' written all over it. Image: Ford Marketing Lab/Kyle Ford.

Some brands aspire to coolness, while others just nail it- every. time. How does a brand break through the typical marketing barriers and create viral demand?

We can't tell you how many times we speak with brands who are desperate to reach the mysterious millennial consumer. We speak from experience that nothing makes the millennial consumer nuts like a viral marketing campaign. 

The best example we've seen as of late comes to us from fashion designer Alexander Wang, who started an absolute frenzy during New York Fashion Week. You can read more about the specific details on our sister site, Fashionable Decisionshere.

To spare you the long read, here's the short version: AW announces his collaboration with Adidas Originals at his show (#WANGSHOW), before throwing a star-studded party catered by McDonalds and 7-Eleven (#WANGFEST).

The following day, he posts cryptic messages to lead desperate fashionistas to a pop-up truck, selling nine pieces from the collection months before they drop in stores and handing them over in garbage bags. The truck makes three stops and the lines span blocks. WTF, Wang?

The following weekend, AW hosted an airbrush graffiti artist at his flagship store to customize any t-shirt or denim purchase, an event publicized all over Instagram. The coveted airbrush design? #WANGOVER. Because the first thing a millennial consumer wants to do with an expensive, new garment is have someone spray paint on it (no, seriously).

There are countless lessons that we can learn about launching a viral marketing campaign from Alexander Wang's Fall 2016 Fashion Show game, but we've narrowed it down to three.

How to take high fashion less seriously, and get snapped for Instagram. Image: nymag.com.

How to take high fashion less seriously, and get snapped for Instagram. Image: nymag.com.

Here are three factors for taking your marketing game viral, as demonstrated by AW at NYFW:

1) Be Secretive- Alexander Wang waited until his show to announce the Adidas partnership. While it had been reportedly been rumored for months, confirmation came during the finale of his show, when it was least expected. As GQ put it, "Alexander Wang did the fashion equivalent of the surprise album drop." Naturally, social media exploded.

2) Be Scarce- Nothing makes us want something more than the idea of not being able to have it: i.e. a limited edition. While the 84-piece collection officially launches this Spring, nine items were released early (as in the day after the show), but they could only be purchased from the back of a truck that would make three stops around NYC. In order to get your hands on the gear, you'd be subjected to an hours-long line, and filled with anxiety that by the time you reached the front it would be sold out.

Adding to the viral frenzy was the fact that he announced the pop-up with a cryptic video on social media, and an aerial view of the truck revealed a phone number that, when called, would give the next location. If you missed out, you missed out. Up next after NYC? Two little cities by the names of Tokyo and London.

AW and his model squad. Not pictured: Madonna in her Alexander Wang for Adidas Originals track jacket. Image: nymag.com.

AW and his model squad. Not pictured: Madonna in her Alexander Wang for Adidas Originals track jacket. Image: nymag.com.

3) Be Authentic (and a little irony won't hurt either)- Alexander Wang is certainly not a budget brand, but instead of having his afterparty catered with caviar and passed canapés, he recreated a connivence store serving Slurpees and a fast food chain serving french fries.

Instead of a swank pop-up in a trendy shopping district, his pop up was a truck, with purchases handed over in black trash bags. Adidas itself is an iconic, accessible brand, which he literally turned upside down (seriously, they let him flip the logo).

By featuring iconic American food chains at his party, a graffiti artist at his store and selling clothes out of the back of a truck, he was not diluting his brand; he was taking the seriousness and stuffiness away and creating authenticity.