OMG! Branded Content Lessons From Nine West!

A show called “You’ve Been Prom’d” with Kelly Cutrone is not exactly my cup of saki. (A total makeover for the MOST IMPORTANT NIGHT OF MY LIFE!? OMG! And by KELLY from THE HILLS!? OMFG!)

Anyway. That’s not the point.

The point actually is: Nine West is doing some interesting stuff in branded content here. A New York Times story today details the brand’s plans for an online video channel called, appropriately enough, Channel Nine. It will feature a handful of shows that look and feel a whole lot like the typical TV reality show. One is Cutrone’s “You’ve Been Prom’d.” Another features “Megan & Liz, twin sisters from Nashville” who “share their best shoe tips and tricks.” It will also have bloggers with names like Saucy Glossie. (Is that a Muppet?)

The full channel isn’t up yet, but from the previews, this looks like it’s going to be real content, not marketing drivel. The site itself is, to the company’s credit, barely branded by Nine West — only at the bottom does it say “Powered by Nine West.” The shows are about fashion and shoes, not about Nine West shoes — though Nine West shows up as product placement. (No doubt there will never be a shoe on Channel Nine that’s not from Nine West.)

The company is saying all the right things about branded content. To quote the Times, quoting Richard Dickson, president and chief executive of the Jones Group’s Branded Businesses:

The video channel “will be a way for us to bring original content and entertainment to viewers” and build an online community around Nine West, said Mr. Dickson, who also oversees other Jones Group brands, including Stuart Weitzman. “We want to rewrite the rules of fashion marketing so it’s not just about a shoe, it’s about a conversation.”

Generally speaking, fashion brands understand branded content as well as any industry. Though the content itself might not exactly change the world, every brand could learn from the kinds of things Nine West is trying.

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