This winter, you can stow your traditional peacoats and parkas for a slightly unconventional look. Emerging menswear designer Si Chan recently released the Hug Me Jacket. The structure of the jacket, with a row of clasped hands running down the front, is supposed to simulate the warm and fuzzy feeling of being hugged. The fact that there are eight of them and they’re kelly green feels a little more alien-abduction than act of affection. Even for a viral celebrity like The Hug Me Jacket, $1200 seems like a pretty steep price to pay when you can find love elsewhere, and at a better price.
The Hug Me Jacket is a new example of a rapidly growing (increasingly stale) phenomenon: the viral hit.
Products that would normally never make it off the ground experience huge success in the digital space. The offerings translate more as stunts and gags than as examples of true brand building.
When it comes to cultivating your company’s online presence, there’s a fine line between luring in customers and getting them to stick around.
If you run a google query for "hug me jacket,” results falls between September 3 and September 10th. We've been watching and, since then, the Hug Me Jacket has fallen off the grid. The articles don't link to an e-commerce portal where you can actually order the jacket and we've yet to find a website dedicated to the designer. So: what is this actually earning the Hug Me Jacket? It's a viral hit, sure. But it leads nowhere. See also: Rebecca Black.
All bark, no bite.
The choice businesses are faced with is between short-term bursts of viral popularity or longevity. The Hug Me jacket (or anything else that has gained it’s fame overnight online) demonstrates the power of social media marketing. But only a few of these hits ever turn 15 minutes into a true business. Notables: The 'I Can Haz Cheezburger' Network and Justin Bieber.
Our point: viral marketing strategies work to a degree, but they should never be the singular driving force of your marketing strategy. We cringe when clients come in with only one directive: we need to do a viral video. If you want to launch and grow a sustainable business, you need to use the power of viral marketing as part of a cohesive marketing and business development strategy.
It's the difference between the Hug Me Jacket and Kickstarter upstarts: The Ministry of Supply. The temperature-controlled business clothing manufacturer features attention-grabbing graphics on their website, HD video and photography and hoards of top-tier press - but it’s backed by a list of practical reasons to purchase, a direct link to buy the product and easy, organic ways to share the news.
The Ministry of Supply transforms the social media marketing of the Hug Me Jacket (all style and no substance) into what appears to be a long-term strategy surrounding their brand. The Ministry of Supply's marketing reflects a strong, ambitious and ultimately grounded company - all conveying value, quality and trustworthiness.
Bottom line: when customers go to find out more, there has to be more than eight-handed outerwear awaiting them.
Author: Lane Jones is our Fall Editor & Word-Smith here at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.