Case Study: “#castmemarc” Social Media Campaign

NEW YORK In 2014 Marc by Marc Jacobs contrasted the rest of fashion industry, and sought out “regular, fashion-forward” individuals, as opposed to  rising super-models, to debut their Autumn/Winter line, launching an interactive, viral social media campaign.

In 2001 Marc Jacobs launched the Marc by Marc Jacobs line to complement the original Marc Jacobs luxury collection. The Marc by Marc Jacobs line was created to offer a much more affordable alternative to the original collection. Only, from 2010-2013, Marc by Marc Jacobs fell into stagnancy- leading Jacobs to hand over creative control to Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley, who brought a whole new aesthetic and ideas with them.

To launch their new line, the newly appointed creative director and design director, Hillier and Bartley, put out a model casting call on social media for “real-people” models for Marc by Marc Jacobs Autumn/Winter 2014 campaign and with its success they did it again for Spring/Summer 2015 with photographer David Sims. Aspiring models were asked to post photos of themselves on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #castmemarc to be in the pool of options.

However, was a social media campaign enough to give Marc by Marc Jacobs (MBMJ) the boost it needed to pull itself out of stagnancy? In examining the effectiveness of greatly landed campaigns, we dissect the two #castmemarc social media campaigns to find out how well they worked.


According to Hillier and Bartley, they took their line in a bold new direction for fall 2014. So it follows that the duo would want to do something different to advertise their rebellious new collection. Thus, Hillier and Bartley went on social media to put out a casting call, asking that aspiring campaign stars simply post photos of themselves on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #castmemarc. They also replicated the same campaign for their Spring/Summer 2015 line. This interactive strategy was established to allow fans to resonate with the brand more closely and allow them to picture their modeling dreams directly with the Marc Jacobs brand.

The campaigns strategically only lasted for a week, so if anyone wanted to participate, they had to act quickly. “The timing of the campaign is ideal for a number of reasons. An open call with a short notice aims to attract the brand’s biggest enthusiasts. It also creates an effect of immediacy, urgency and excitement,” said Tanya Stankeva, of Longneck & Thunderfoot Co.

The new Instagram and Twitter campaigns starring real people speak to the personal, inclusive atmosphere the designers were aiming for. “We want to stand for something,” Hillier says. “I think that’s why people love Marc by Marc Jacobs so much, because it’s one of the last really accessible fashion collections where you can actually buy into that.”

The target audience of fashion enthusiasts and aspiring models that participated in the campaign was also spreading awareness of the diffusion brand to their own social networks, which most likely shared a common disposable income and fashion trends (aka ideal consumers). In addition to the direct promotional value that the participants post brought, the media coverage of the campaign competition brought great attention to the MBMJ new seasonal lines, as well as created a new audience that would anticipate the advertisements that the “winning non-models” would be starring in. MBMJ also created a video featuring the winning models each season, which further attraced attention to the Marc Jacobs brand and created a buzz, since viewers were able to see the novelty of the experience of a real-person becoming a super model. 


“It seemed like a great idea to me, as casting through Instagram seemed cool, current and strong,” said Jacobs. “We wanted the ads to shout with youth and energy… To be fresh and reclaim the spirit that the collection had when we first conceived of it – to be another collection, not a second line.”

The company, along with casting director Anita Bitton, had to narrow down entries to 30 finalists, and then nine actual models, who were then flown to New York, styled by Katie Grand and shot by David Sims. The ads, which were first unveiled in WWD, debuted in Teen Vogue’s August issue for the 2014 line, and in the January issue for the 2015 line.

The winning models all possessed strong personal styles that contributed to and inspired the MBMJ photo shoots, which allowed Marc Jacobs to gain more insight to their consumers and better connect to their intended audience.

The collections which these Instagram-casted ads represent marked their debut for the label. It’s melange of references, including K-pop, karate, and Alice in Wonderland, created a new kind of visual experimentation for the contemporary brand – with interesting layers of knitwear, cocktail dresses, and street-ready attire, Hillier explained.

“David Sims portraits, Peter Miles layouts, the credibility of the cast and the approach to casting the ads transmit a current social lifestyle that doesn’t play into other clichés.…And totally feels like our company — a cast of colourful and dynamic characters,” Jacobs said. 


The preparation, implementation and impact of the interactive, viral campaign can be clearly evaluated through the number of submissions with the hashtag #castmemarc on Instagram and Twitter, the presence of the new line and the campaign in other media outlets, and finally the overally sales of the MBMJ lines. Though there isn’t supported data correlating business sales directly with the #castmemarc campaigns nor physical sales numbers available to the general public of MBMJ seasonal lines, both campaigns have been described as “a success” and MBMJ sales were reported to have increased.

“In fashion, one of the most competitive industries in social media at the moment, only huge numbers count to gauge success,” said Stankeva, “The [first] campaign drew in over 70,000 participants, thousands of tweets and views of the videos on YouTube, hundreds of media publications, and dozens of critics- a sweeping success for any brand and definitely for fashion brands.”

Indeed, social media strategies, however creative and inspiring, give no guarantees for achieving business goals. But when applied correctly they can do a lot for raising awareness about brands, which “is the crux to a successful fashion line” according to photographer David Sims.

The creative directors’ and design directors’ great campaign efforts were recognized by the fashion community. “The duo’s appointment and fun, Instagram promotions had greatly increased press for the MBMJ brand, with many speculating that a position at the expanded Marc Jacobs is the works for the two,” says Vogue columnist, Steph Yotka.

Despite that Marc by Marc Jacobs accounted for 70 percent of Marc Jacobs’s revenue in 2014, in March 2015 it was announced that MBMJ would be folded into Marc Jacobs. 10 years after the line was created, says Eric Wilson, InStyle’s fashion news director and a former fashion critic for the New York Times, MBMJ has become a distraction for the brand: “It turned into something else, and stopped getting the attention it needed from a design and manufacturing standpoint.”

In fact, the campaigns for Marc by Marc Jacobs so clearly defined the brand and created such a buzz for the new lines of clothes, it posed a problem for the overall Marc Jacobs brand. “Their diffusion line was confusing to shoppers because they were attempting to be a luxury brand, and then some,” Wilson explains. “The brand eventually realized that if they want to be the next big design story, they need to have one big, clear vision.”


Overall, we believe the #castmemarc campaign was a brilliant success,and the fact that there were two subsequently implies Marc Jacobs thought so, too. I feel like it was very well-executed, and clearly it greatly benefited the Marc Jacobs brand. Having the campaign be a competition created a buzz and sense of anticipation for the new lines. Additionally, having real-people be models in their advertisements allows consumers to feel more connected to the brand and lifestyle it offers. The only thing that we could think of that could have maybe done differently was make it a requirement that models wear Marc Jacobs in their #castmemarc social media post and then hashtag the piece that they were wearing, and then initial posts could be featured on Marc Jacobs social media forums.

Both the MBMJ #castmemarc campaign and Cara Delevigne’s DKNY #CaraWantsYou  campaign had the same premise and goals. Both campaigns utilized social media to start a hashtag trend that would give participants the opportunity to model in both collections ad campaigns. However, when comparing the two, it’s visible that MBMJ could have added a few enticing parts to their campaign. The fact that Cara Delevigne, a widely-known supermodel with a large social media presence, gave the personal call for models (as opposed to the elusive Marc Jacobs) was a big bonus in attracting submissions and attention to the new line. The #CaraWantsYou campaign attracted “millions of submissions”, whereas each #castmemarc campaign attracted a little over 70,000. However, there could be debate as to if the #CaraWantsYou campaign brought her own personal brand more publicity than DKNY; whereas, #castmemarc clearly resonates with the Marc Jacobs brand. Also, in addition to being featured in the ad campaign, Cara spent quality time with the winning models and had them come to the launch party, where they were encouraged to document their fabulous time on social media, further promoting the new Cara line and the rest of the DKNY brand.

Media Log- Anheuser-Busch InBev Approaches SABMiller on Possible Takeover

Medium: The New York Times
Vehicle: Newspaper
Reporters/writers: Chad Bray and James Kanter
Date: 9/16/2015
Headline: Anheuser-Busch InBev Approaches SABMiller on Possible Takeover
Company/business involved: Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller
Your client: Anheuser-Busch InBev

Summary of story: If Anheuser-Busch InBev passes an anti-trust muster, they will combine with SABMiller to continue to expand as the world’s largest beer makers.

This news coverage is predominantly positive; Anheuser-Busch InBev is being very cooperative and open about the review process. The potential outcome is also very promising for the beer industry and would give a larger grasp on the difference between premium and standard lagers. Anheuser-Busch InBev is being portrayed as lucrative and progressive, striving to reshape the beer industry.  If the two companies do indeed merge, the article depicts that beer-drinkers will be exposed to a more refined lager experience, since the company will be able to collaborate with their former competitors.

PR folks should continue to follow the investigation and the acquisitions potential market value, so they are able to shape the publicity in a positive manner that will benefit beer-drinkers and the alcohol industry.

A news release most likely generated this story, since merging is a very public and professional process. The goal was most likely to attract attention to Anheuser-Busch InBev and their prevalence among the industry. They could have been spreading awareness of the possible merger to generate positive support from consumers and marketers.

Media Log- Partnership Boosts Users Over China’s Great Firewall

Medium: Newspaper
Vehicle: The New York Times
Reporters/writers: Paul Mozur
Date: 9/14/15
Headline: Partnership Boosts Users Over China’s Great Firewall
Company/business involved: CloudFlare, Baidu
Your client: CloudFlare

A partnership between CloudFlare, an American start-up security company, and Baidu, a Chinese internet behemoth that’s the equivalent to Google, has created a fast lane that speeds up internet traffic across China’s border. They are establishing a new and attractive business model with benefits for other American technology firms trying to do business in China, but also improving Chinese international communications.


“Joshua Motta, left, Carmen Chang and Matthew Price in the San Francisco offices of the security start-up CloudFlare.” (Jason Henry for The New York Times).

This news coverage is positive. It is stressing the improving relations between American and Chinese businesses, hinting of future endeavors that will benefit both nations’ industries. CloudFlare is the first to seek out a virtual joint venture with the Chinese, and its success shines the company in a good light. The message of the story about the company ultimately depicts CloudFlare as an intuitive, progressive company pushing the boundaries of intimidation. Their open-mindedness and modest coding (which they hold firm confidence in sharing with the Chinese) allowed relations to be established with the politically sensitive tech industry in China. All tech companies are widely impacted, as this creates new possibilities for both American and Chinese tech firms; the Chinese have significantly faster services and a chance to expand their target audiences, Americans are able to tap into Chinese industries by expanding their present businesses’ scope of intelligence. The mutual benefits of the partnership between CloudFlare and Baidu encourage a positive public perception of the two companies.

PR folks should continue to follow up on the businesses growth and progress, continuing to shine publicity on not only their technological advances, but on the resulting political, economic and social advances the partnership is enabling. Thereby, the companies progress can potentially be seen as more influential and attract further funding.

A news release most likely generated the story. The factual nature depicting great success was probably released to show the technology industry the progress being made in international business relations, to encourage adjustments to other tech projects taking place.

Media Log- Intel to End Sponsorship Of Science Contest

Medium: Newspaper
Vehicle: The New York Times
By: Quentin Hardy
Intel to End Sponsorship Of Science Contest
Company/ Business Involved: Intel, Science Talent Search

Client: Intel

According to Quentin Hardy’s article “Intel to End Sponsorship Of Science Contest”, published in the New York Times on September 9, 2015, the world’s largest producer of semi-conductors, Intel, is withdrawing its support of the Science Talent Search. The search is the most prestigious science and math competition for high school students in the United States, bringing 40 finalists to Washington to meet government and industry leaders. The work exhibited in this contest represents America’s educational competitiveness and national priorities, making headlines nationally and bringing great attention to the necessity of the STEM fields.

This news coverage about Intel’s decision is largely negative. For Intel to support the contest is roughly $6 million a year – only about 0.01 percent of Intel’s $55.6 billion in revenue last year – and it generates a significant impact. Hardy even has a former Intel CEO, Craig Barrett, quoted saying he was “surprised and a little disappointed by Intel’s decision”.

The story is informing the audience that Intel’s interests have shifted, most likely upsetting those involved with the contest. They will continue to grant support to a different international contest until the end of their contractual terms until 2019, but after then Intel will have no bounds to supporting any talent or technology contests. However, the contests that Intel is leaving behind still hold attractiveness to other companies, so funding is not an issue.

PR folks should be looking into where Intel is directing those funds instead. They need to turn around the story and have Intel reach out to other companies to replace their funding, so they aren’t depicted as leaving the contests and scholarships in the dust. Then, Intel needs to make public where precisely they are allocating their money and give explicit reasoning for the transition.

I believe a press release drove this story. The premise of the article is based on a factual, public statement that Intel was withdrawing their sponsorship, which most likely led to further research and interviewing of Intel, as well as the science contest. This could have been a PR stunt on behalf of the science contest. Representatives could be seeking attention from other corporations who might be interested in contributing to the contest funds or replacing Intel’s sponsorship.

"President Obama with 2012 Intel Science Search Finalists" Saul Loeb/Agence France-Pressee- Getty Images

“President Obama with 2012 Intel Science Search Finalists” Saul Loeb/Agence France-Pressee- Getty Images

Writing and My Dream Job

Writing has always been one of my favorite pastimes. I came to Penn State initially with the aspiration of becoming a journalist. I worked as reporter for the Daily Collegian my freshman year and while it was an incredible experience, I decided to take a leave of absence to pursue the newspaper’s business division to explore my other interests. I really enjoyed news-writing and I like how PR works so closely with it, which prompted me to switch my major to PR. While I do well with creative writing, the courses and experiences I have had at Penn State brought to my attention that I need to work on my formal and persuasive writing. I trail-off too often and have a fondness for wordy, run-on sentences. I also take a long time to produce a piece of work, which I need to direly work on in order to succeed in the communications world of deadlines. I have improved on my writing since taking Comm260W, and I hope that Comm471 will enable me to perfect all kinds of writing techniques.

My Dream Job
I have been an avid reader my entire life, drinking up everything from Ernest Hemingway to my local newspaper. But as of a few years ago my all-time favorite publication became Rolling Stone, and I would love nothing more than to earn a position working for them. My passions coincide perfectly with Rolling Stone’s purpose: The magazine features a terrific mix of music, politics and popular culture angled towards a less-serious audience while still maintaining serious coverage. I find coverage on business and politics fascinating, and I have a slight obsession with music; Working for Rolling Stone would truly be a dream job. I’m not 100% set on a specific job, but my ideal position would be to either work as a journalist or to work for their business division, dealing with advertising, PR, marketing or sales.

Media Log- Studio Altered Film to Deter N.F.L. Protests

Medium: Newspaper
Vehicle: The New York Times
By: Ken Belson
Date: 9/2/15
Headline: Studio Altered Film to Deter N.F.L. Protests
Company/business involved: Sony Pictures Entertainment, N.F.L.
Your client: N.F.L.

Concussion Will Smith

Will Smith stars in the disputed film, “Concussion”.

After e-mails were hacked, it was discovered that the N.F.L. played a powerful influence in the making of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s movie “Concussion”- a film based around the death and dementia professional football players suffer from the aggressive nature of football. After the screenplay was hacked via e-mail, further hacked e-mails revealed that the N.F.L. directly intervened to ensure that the movie presented the game in a “richer and fairer” light, insinuating legal action would be taken if the film took any creative leniencies to make football injuries appear more dramatic than necessary.

This news coverage depicts the N.F.L. in a negative light because it shows the influence organizations have over freedom of speech and the ability to freely utilize creative licenses. It depicts the N.F.L. to be a powerful presence over everything that discusses football and insinuates that they do it in an overprotective, bullying manner. It also shows Sony in a slightly negative light, since they cowered to the N.F.L.’s presence despite their initial task to reveal the dangerous nature of football.

This story shows that Sony worked closely with N.F.L. representatives to ensure that their movie would not depict football injuries in a too dramatic light. Sony took every precaution to not provoke the powerful league so the N.F.L. would not attack the enterprise, putting them at risk for an annihilating lawsuit.

N.F.L. fans and players are made aware of the fear the N.F.L. has in exposing any unrealistic nature about football, making them wonder why the N.F.L. is so concerned about the image. The public most likely gained the perception that the N.F.L. has a powerful influence on movie and television outlets and how they project the image of football and the league.

PR folks should be researching other films or television shows that depicted negative aspects about the game or league and what actions the N.F.L. took against them. Also, they should be thinking about how the N.F.L. has such a powerful influence over creative media. Does the N.F.L. have the right to be able to influence them?

PR folks can try to change the negative connotation towards the N.F.L. by positioning the story so that Sony approached the N.F.L. to clarify that what they were putting in the film was entirely accurate, as opposed to the N.F.L. viewing hacked e-mails of the screenplay and discussions about how Will Smith should angle his role in the film. They should emphasize that the N.F.L. was concerned about the validity of the information and being considerate of players and their families, instead of just the industry.

A news release most likely generated this story. The trailer for the film was released on Monday and Sony Pictures Entertainment discussed that their e-mails were hacked, allowing the N.F.L. to gain Intel on the film and ultimately begin a conversation between the two. That most likely prompted further research to be done on the film and the N.F.L.’s role in its creation. Sony most likely wanted to attract attention to their film, and to encourage readers to wonder about the validity of the content and to ultimately watch the movie to draw their own conclusions. While I’m sure Sony did not attract the N.F.L.’s attention intentionally, I believe that by them bringing attention to the fact that they did is for publicity for the movie.