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FASHION’S DAVOS: Magazines are increasingly waking up to the potential of conferences as a tidy source of revenue. The Atlantic has the Aspen Ideas Festival, The New Yorker has its annual festival in October. On Wednesday, Details magazine joined their ranks with a summit, “Tech & Tastemakers,” where it was start-up founders and marketers taking center stage. At the five-hour confab, panels revolved around the topic of how to monetize changes in technology — one was called “In$tagram” while another offered advice on striking the right balance between “monetization and editorial integrity” — and a lot of buzzy words were thrown around, like “disruption,” “influencers” and “creative-thought leaders.”
Self-promotion is never far from the agenda at most media conferences, and this wasn’t any different. Eric Kuhn, a social media agent at United Talent Agency, moderated a panel with Ricky Van Veen, the founder of College Humor, a UTA client, and James Nord, a cofounder of the blog directory Fohr Card, led another panel that included Andrew Schmidt, manager of global digital business development at Puma, one of Fohr’s launch partners.
Conferences serve many purposes, to sell some tickets, for one, and these went for $80 a pop. But with this one, Details also gave some of its advertisers an elevated platform to promote their brands, live and in person. Appearing on the last panel were executives from Puma, Armani Exchange and Saks Fifth Avenue. Their round table, “The Digital Brand Connection,” doubled as a primer for the way fashion marketing is conducted today, with independent bloggers often co-opted by retail brands, sometimes voluntarily, as a springboard towards a transaction.
“I think bloggers are an important tactic,” said Christine Bender, senior vice president, marketing and creative services at Armani Exchange. “They do give an authenticity to your brand that you might not be able to attain on your own. They allow you to reach your customer in a much more intimate, personal way and it gives you an opportunity for reach and scale.”
Eric Jennings, vice president and men’s fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, said bloggers are a useful tool in the marketing of new brands.
“We’ve had success when we pick up a new brand that this customer in our store is not aware of yet but bloggers are blogging about it and we shift the inventory from the store, where it’s not selling as well, to the Web site because there’s a younger, hipper customer listening to those younger, cooler bloggers,” he said.
The last question brought the proceedings full circle. The marketers were asked to give bloggers advice on how to become brand spokespersons.