Lime green undies

Vacationed in Nantucket this summer? Perhaps you came across a tall blonde girl clad in lime green undies with a pink stripe at the top. Perhaps you also encountered a large group of high school or college aged people receiving this undies, putting them on, and taking a picture. Seems like a strange thing to do on a summer vacay but hey, you never know these days.

What are these undies all about? That is exactly what the clothing line, Jack Wills, wants you to ask. And nope, Jack Wills is not a lingerie or undergarment store. Rather, it is a British store known for its preppy, boarding-school image. Urban Dictionary explains Jack Wills as,

The Quintessential British Preppy Brand
A clothes brand, the british alternative to Abercrombie and Fitch but much more exclusive to those who can afford it. JW has a rock solid, traditional British heritage, inspired by vintage sportswear, beachwear and classic British public school style. It is the epitome of British preppy cool. Customers who are mainly sloanes and preps are unarguably beautiful and sexy. They are the popular guys and girls in class. They are confident and they ooze effortless style. They adore a hedonistic party. And they are ever so, ever so laid back. It is the complete opposite to anything remotely chavvy such as adidias or lonsdale.

What is a sloane? Or Lonsdale? Really, it is irrelevant, because Jack Wills has turned to a new market. Who other than the young, bold, Generation X, right here in America? Let’s take a look…

Seriously, this video might as well scream murketing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a JW Seasonnaire. They definitely got me on board. An internship to live at the Jack Wills house, in beautiful, sunny Nantucket for the summer? (There’s a Jack Wills house?!)¬†Opportunities to party in LA and the UK at a sponsored party? Handing out neon underwear on the beach all day? (Admittedly, this part could get a little weird.)

But, you get my point. Jack Wills is targeting their new potential consumers at all angles, including plopping themselves smack down in the middle of arguably one of the preppiest places in the U.S. and claiming it as their murketing territory. Wealthy, preppy summer vacationers are exactly the people Jack Wills hopes to gain as loyal brand wearers.

Even further, Jack Wills is encouraging these potential consumers to work for, and with, Jack Wills to promote not only awareness but also a certain image of what it means to wear the brand. By inviting these adventure-minded, party-ready young adults to “work” (walk down the beach all day) for the brand, Jack Wills is not only marketing to those the workers will interact with, but is also using this internship as a platform to attract and entice people to be an integral part of their brand image, and thus create an intimate bond and loyalty to the brand. By allowing consumers to be a part of the process of marketing, Jack Wills is capitalizing on Generation X’s desire to be active consumers, directly involved with the brands they choose to be part of their identity. Those who work for the brand will most likely feel very connected to their lime green undies.

If you ask me, its genius.

(And what, by the way, has Jack Wills been up to in this colder weather? Ah, it has smoothly transitioned from summery Nantucket to sophisticated Newbury Street, sponsoring an “exclusive” party to celebrate the opening of the new store.¬†Check it out.)

Murketing on Newbury Street

In his book, Buying In, Walker talks about the common misconception that “Generation Y” or “The Millenials” is a population that is particularly difficult to sell anything to, as they “see through” marketing. Well, do we?

Take the clothing store, LF, for example. I recently visited the LF on Newbury Street in Boston. The first thing I noticed was the fact that we could barely find the store, even when we were basically looking right at it. Distracted by the DJ blasting music from 344 across the street (a well-known, pricey store filled with popular brands like Free People and Michael Stars) and by the floods of shoppers entering the three story Forever 21 adjacent to it, I barely noticed the small store with the simple LF sign lost in the midst of these huge stores.

Upon entering LF you would literally think you were entering a thrift shop. Clothes are strewn everywhere, upbeat music plays, and the workers pretty much leave you alone to sift through the piles of oversized sweaters, ridiculously high wedges, and leather bags.

Yet, there are a few clues that the “image” projected by the store does not exactly fit the reality at work here.

First? The security guard at the door. Second, one look at a price tag… almost everything, from tissue thin belly shirts to furry vests, are over $150. Third, the store still references its single sale a season (it already passed, by the way).

What’s going on here? Well, we know Walker would argue that Generation Y in fact embraces branding, and uses it as a means of expression. Further, he describes how marketers have now figured this out, and thus are finding new, unconventional, subtle, murky ways to capitalize on this.

Perhaps LF, like many other clothing and fashion stores, has capitalized on the hipster “subculture” that seems to be increasingly visible in our society. LF ditched the flashy, colorful, loud advertising of its neighboring competitors, settling with earth tones and messy clothing piles. LF can sell the edgy, throw-it-together look at the prices of a higher end designer. The LF website includes a link to “their favorite blogs” (which are of equally edgy nature) and claims, its for “girls who dare to be different.” It seems as if LF has successfully navigated the new world of murketing, targeting its consumers in underground ways and carefully walking the line between selling its products and maintaing an unassuming, cool and unique vibe that shies away from the mainstream.

My question to you is are LF’s consumers sell-outs? Or, as Walker would argue, are they just embracing branding in a new, less obvious way?