In-your-face celebrity ads may have worked last decade. Andy Roddick reportedly gets paid $5 million every year just to wear Lacoste in competitions. But that no longer seems to make the statement the brand wants.
The preppy label of bygone years is hoping get back in the game by attracting fashionable younger shoppers. And it’s using a trendy marketing idea — it’s all about where the brand shows up, and no longer about who wears it.
So Lacoste is taking a new angle: dressing the non-celebrity staff in the trendy restaurants and hotels. The brand provides free alligator logo shirts to the wait staff and bus boys of Nobu, an upscale Japanese restaurant in Hamptons, co-owned by Robert De Niro and the Soho House and two Hotel Gansevoort employees in Manhattan.
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“You’re sitting there and Lacoste is all around you,” Charlie Walk, a partner at RJW Collective, a marketing agency working with Lacoste, told the New York Times. “But it’s not in your face screaming to you that there’s a branded moment here in the middle of your meal—it’s an elegantly disruptive activation.”
The French apparel company has been in a trial-and-error phase over the past years. Last year, food trucks with Lacoste logos roamed the streets of Miami and red rubber alligators were distributed in Manhattan. In cyberspace, the brand has partnered with the popular fashion blogger Jared Eng of JustJared.com, who posts interviews with celebrities on Youtube. In July, when Leighton Meester was featured in his video, Lacoste’s green alligator logo embellished the screen’s bottom right corner.
During the upcoming New York Fashion Week, Lacoste plans to distribute $50 gift certificates for the label’s classic polo shirts on Fifth Avenue. The vouchers will be limited, and you would still have to pay extra to actually buy the shirts (that costs $80 for women’s and $90 for men’s), but it’s certainly better than the rubber alligators in this economy.