‘The Italians are back’: Fashion advertising roars back to life for publishers
Fashion brands are beginning to strut their stuff again.
Three months after the coronavirus stopped the industry in its tracks, fashion brands are beginning to spend on advertising again, not just to promote fall and winter lines currently in production, but to capitalize on pent-up consumer demand as stores begin to reopen and hopefully drive sales of inventory that brands couldn’t move earlier in the year.
Publishers will take bright spots wherever they can find them. But the budgets that have been unlocked are more focused on driving outcomes, publishers said, and some say they expect the recent trend of fashion brands doing bigger campaigns with fewer partners to accelerate this year.
“The Italians are back,” said Joshua Brandau, the chief revenue officer of the Los Angeles Times, “Fashion houses are asking about big, bold executions, section buyouts, and robust multi-platform packages. I’m very bullish about the vertical.”
For context, apparel and retail apparel advertisers spent a combined $4.75 billion on advertising in 2019, according to Kantar.
The coronavirus hit the fashion industry with a tough combination of punches. Lockdowns around the world, not just in China but in Italy and France, shut down production at many fashion houses’ factories and retailers, suddenly unable to sell online or in person, summarily canceled wholesale orders they’d placed with brands, leaving them millions of dollars’ worth of product they had no way of selling.
Adding insult to injury, social distancing regulations in cities like New York and Los Angeles meant brands and their agencies couldn’t assemble the crews needed to create the slick, stylized ads they were used to showing consumers.
“You had a lot of brands that took creative [assets] from last year that they had to figure out how to revamp and repurpose,” said Addia Cooper-Henry, the founder of creative agency VMGroupe.
Consequently, ad spending among fashion brands plunged in March, and kept going; on the whole, ad spending in the category declined 45% year over year in the second quarter. Much of that was caused by declines in print ads, which account for 64% of spending in the category, per Mediaradar.
But other kinds of ad buys slid precipitously as well. Excluding print ads, year-over-year spending in the category slid from being up 6% in mid-March to being down more than 15% in the space of about a month, according to Mediaradar analysis conducted for this article. By mid-June, spending was down more than 20% year over year, that analysis showed.
Shayna Kossove, the chief revenue officer of the fashion and lifestyle publication WhoWhatWear, said most of her clients paused, rather than canceled their spending as they tried to figure out what to do. But even as her clients formulated new plans, Kossove said she and her team went weeks without pitching new business because buyers were so hesitant. In some cases, there was no one to pitch.
“In many cases, our clients’ [contacts] were furloughed or even laid off,” Kossove said. “It was like, ‘Who do you even call?’”
Yet by May, conversations began taking place. “The fall conversations have
happened,” Kossove said. “They’ve really picked up in the last month.”
Some of the recent spending seems designed to capitalize on pent-up consumer demand. Early returns from big box stores opening up last month suggest that there is some measure of pent-up consumer demand for brands to capitalize on.
Publishers that are able to offer an affiliate or performance component to their campaigns are better positioned than those who purely offer media. Yuriy Boykiv, the president of DentsuX, said that while some fashion brands are “still calibrating” their spending, spending on digital and e-commerce have increased.
The bulk of the conversations, however, are focused on the fall season, Brandau said. While publishers remain wary of retail as a category, they are eager to have conversations about the back half of the year. And fashion advertisers, for now, seem open to having them — despite the rising threat of coronavirus in America’s sun belt.
“I’d say in Q4, we’ll be back to the numbers we were hoping for,” Kossove said. “We’ll probably be even closer to the old forecast.”
‘Lens of the West Coast’: Inside the L.A. Times’ new head of audio’s plan to focus the publisher’s podcasts
Aguilera wants people to one day associate the newspaper publisher with its podcasts and their West Coast "vibe and tone." But first, she is tasked with growing the L.A. Times' daily news show "The Times."
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: What publishers should watch for when meeting with blockchain vendors
In this week's Media Briefing, media editor Kayleigh Barber explores the primary questions publishers should be asking when evaluating potential blockchain partners.
Amid video growing pains, Amazon Live struggles to attract publishers
Amazon wants publishers to drive their audiences toward the ecommerce platform's shoppable videos. Many are skeptical.
SponsoredHow advertisers are shifting mindsets to succeed amid iOS 15 and other identity challenges
On top of the impending cookie deprecation, Apple’s recent iOS 15 changes are causing concern for many advertisers by affecting pixels, IP addresses and email addresses. While these upcoming changes may be concerning for many, shifting mindsets and getting away from a binary way of thinking with solutions being 100% contextual or 100% universal IDs […]
‘Push back with brilliance’: Jared Belsky explains Acadia’s approach to acquiring other agencies and recruiting clients
Digital agency Acadia is focused squarely on winning mid-sized clients that the holding companies usually pass over or don’t treat seriously enough.
Architectural Digest will publish its first global print issue as part of revamped international rollout strategy
As Condé Nast shifts to a consolidated global content strategy, editorial teams around the world are working more closely at AD to coordinate the publication of feature stories, videos and new franchises.