Was #TheDress a Marketing Homerun?

by Gail Oliver, Marketing Consultant

There was a social media phenomenon last Thursday night called #TheDress. It shows the power of social media as within hours everyone was talking about whether you saw white and gold or blue and black when you looked at a photo of this dress. The story made the rounds of every news show and my kids even said everyone on the school bus was debating it that morning. Today the dress owner appeared on Ellen, showing how the story still has legs a few days after the fact.

#thedress marketing genius

How the Trend Started

None of this was intentional. According to Fox News, the picture of the dress started with a Tumblr post by a user named Swiked, who asked fellow Tumblr people for help in figuring out the dress’s true colors. Once BuzzFeed saw the story on Tumblr, they reran it on their site and it immediately shot up the trending ranks. Right now that post on Buzzfeed has had over 38 million views (Buzzfeed has a monthly readership of 124 million people).

The reason for all the fuzz was that it was your typical water cooler debate. People were fascinated because there were two distinct groups, those who saw one color combination and those who saw another, and each confused why others were seeing something different from what they were seeing. Then you have celebrities circulating it on social media to their millions of followers and it really gets crazy.

Was It a Marketing Homerun?

The dress is sold by Roman Originals in the UK. The company is not saying how many dresses were sold as a result, but it did say that this one dress was responsible for 60 percent of Friday’s sales.

So was it a marketing home run? In terms of immediate exposure, definitely, but at the same time, I was done with it after a few hours to the point I didn’t want to hear about it anymore. It became over-exposed, where you start to rebel against it. But the company was smart, they tried to refocus the exposure back to themselves by profiling it on their home page, by retweeting pretty much every major tweet that had the hash tag #TheDress in it (although I would have added the hashtag to their Twitter profile description), and they are rushing out a #whiteandgold version (yes, that hashtag was trending too) available today.

Did it drive me over to their website? No, not until I decided to write this post. Did it make me buy the dress? No, but trust me, some people are buying the dress strictly for pop culture purposes. Will it mean new customers and long-term success for the company? Again, that remains to be seen. It definitely did not hurt them, but they now need to find ways to use this exposure to keep their name in the news, without overdoing it.

#TheDress phenomenon is the true essence of successful social media marketing. You have probably long heard that to be successful on social media you have to get people talking and create conversation, and #TheDress is a great example of doing just that, even if it was by accident.

By the way, I saw white and gold. What did you see?… Gail 

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Author: Gail Oliver, Online Small Business Consultant

I'm Gail Oliver, an online marketing consultant. Welcome to my blog, chosen one of the Top 10 Small Business Blogs to Follow in 2014 by American Express Open Forum. If you need help with your e-commerce business, be sure to see MY SERVICES, above.