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.