Friday, September 25, 2009

What Hollywood Can Teach Us About Book Promotion

The new movie about Anna Wintour and the Making of Vogue, needs no introduction among fashionistas. Wintour is the guru behind Vogue magazine, and the movie is now "in a theater near you."

I admit, I am (or was) one of those fans of fashion--I had to be. I worked at a New York publcity house where I wrote media releases for the likes of Rudy Gernreich, Christian Dior and Pauline Trigere. If you're thinking "Ugh, enough already," stop! I learned a lot for the fashion industry and so can all of us. (-: And, if you're one of Vogue's fans, you'll expecially love these marketing tips.

And we can learn even more than usual for the people marketing this movie!

Their marketers are not using the old promotion model of presenting it as a sneak preview in theaters! That's been done before. Instead a preview is coming as a gift from Bloomingdale's (or rather a gift-with-purchase) and Bloomie's is generally thought to be the leading department store for clothes horses, this movie's target audience.

I'm sure you are getting my drift here. The marketing people behind The September Issue are stepping out of the usual same old, same old box. Stylishly.

Here's the way they advertised the deal: Stop by participating Bloomingdale's locations (Beverly Center, Century City and Sherman Oaks--all in LA) and purchase $150 or more in the fashion accessories and handbags department (a mere pittance by Bloomie standards) and they would give you "a chance" to see the film. You were to see a Bloomingdale's sales associate for details on the VIP screening pass. You can also ask to be put on a waiting list by sending an e-mail to There were only 100 passes available. Ahem!

Sounds as if--when the thundering Jimmy Choo shoes came stomping in for their chance at this event (not just a prescreening but a chance to look at a whole theater full of other fashionistas willing to spend $150!)--the marketers would have fodder for some follow up stories for the business pages of newspapers and news Web sites across the land.

Are we authors taking notes? Apparently so. I just mentioned this marketing event on my Facebook page ( and many authors (including Barbara Techel, Connie Gotsch and Tammy Banks) who have written books about dogs are busy trading secrets for getting events at pet food stores and vet offices.

The thing is, this event goes a few steps farther than just finding compatible retailers or other businesses to sell products (in this case a movie and handbags).

It helps, of course, that Vogue already has a fan base. But here are the important lessons to take away from this brilliant promotion.

~It's limited, thus more desirable. Same with Michael Jackson's memorial performance and some other recent events.
~It doesn't apologize. It points out these limitations, thus increasing the mystique.
~It plays to its fan base. In other words, it isn't trying to appeal to anyone but the crowd who buys handbags that cost $150 to many, many thousands. So who is your prime fan base? Now your job is to figure out another business that caters to that same base as a partner.
~It asks for participation (a purchase or taking action by e-mail). That gives Bloomingdale's (and the marketing house behind The September Issue) a list they can build on for the future.
~The most important feature of the campaign is the premarketing. This would be nothing without all participants contributing resources and working up the excitement before the event.
~Notice that, though limited, they haven't closed off the idea that there may be a chance for everyone to attend (even though they admit they only have 100 passes available!). Hope springs eternal for those who care. In fact, hope consumes those same people because it is limited. It's a lottery! Women who love Kate Spade just need to be there!
~And, of course, there's that post publicity I mentioned. Don't think they don't already have those media releases written and waiting to plug in the amazing statistics about the success of the event. Once that's done, they can do their media release e-mail blitz or start their phone banks rolling. There were a few cameras at the event too, for sure.

Oh, and PS! This movie uses one title and two subtitles. It is The Septembr Issue: Fashion is a Religion. This is the Bible. The second subtitle is Anna Wintour & The Making of Vogue. If that isn't more excitement making verbiage, I never saw it.

PPS: Can you think of another aspect of this campaign we can learn from?

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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