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Express looks to Instagram users to populate runway show with Karlie Kloss

Fashion retailer Express is holding a campaign to align its brand image alongside consumers who are innovators, game changers and go-getters with an Instagram campaign that entices Karlie Kloss fans and amateur model hopefuls.

The runway show will take place on March 30 in St. Louis, Ms. Kloss?s hometown, and will reserve space for five contest winners local to the St. Louis area. To enter, participants are asked to post a video to Instagram explaining how they embody a spirit of optimism and achievement ?to achieve both personal and professional success.?

?This campaign isn't about a fashion runway show, it's about showcasing real people,? said James McNally, director of digital strategy at TDT, New York. ?Staging this in a city like St. Louis (as opposed to Los Angeles or New York) simply plays better, and reinforces Express' relatability. 

?The Kloss/STL connection is valuable because it emphasizes that Karlie, who has had a blue-chip supermodel career, was at one point just a local girl from STL ? ?You, Express shoppers, can reach your dreams just like Karlie.??

Instagram contest
Users can enter the Contest by following Express on Instagram and posting a video explaining how they are living their best life and empowering others to do the same to a public Instagram account with the hashtag #KARLIECONTEST, and tagging @express.

The submission must be a users? original creation, must not reference any third party trademarks or logos or contain any advertisements and cannot ?include content that denigrates, disparages or reflects negatively on Sponsor, Karlie Kloss, or the profession of modeling.? 

Many have already submitted their videos

Ten contestants will be chosen to walk with Ms. Kloss at the March runway event; five from St. Louis, and five national contest winners, who will receive hotel and airfare accomodations to St. Louis in addition to being eligible for prize elements offered to all winners, including a $500 Express shopping spree before the event. 

Fast fashion
Many of the ?mall brands? that Express competes with are also engaging in comprehensive social media campaigns, which mainly focus on Instagram. Competitor Abercrombie & Fitch took advantage of the holiday season?s influx of advertising to reinvent its brand image with a campaign that leverages multiple mobile-optimized digital channels, beginning with a complete reset of the brand?s Instagram presence (see story). 

And Abercrombie property Hollister Co. is sponsored Snapchat?s Spring Break live story with millennial-centric video snippets that played into a larger narrative, featuring two male friends trying to impress the same girl (see story). 

Karlie Kloss for Express

?There is no ?line? between social media user and influencer,? Mr. McNally said. ?It's actually a spectrum, with ?regular? users wielding a relatively small amount of influence, and influencers wielding a monetizable amount of influence through a more conscientious approach to personal branding and content.  

?The reason that ?microinfluencer? has been such a social marketing buzzword is because relatable spokespeople compel consumers,? he said. ?Karlie Kloss probably looks stunning wearing a sweater from Express, but your average consumer doesn't think that by purchasing that same sweater, they'll become Karlie. 

?However, if you see a ?regular? person being successful in their everyday, non-supermodel endeavors, that is for most people more relatable and inspirational.  Supermodels stand for idealistic and aesthetic beauty ? it can be breathtaking, but consumers typically equate that with genetics, rather than a compelling personal story or inspirational lifestyle.  This is a great way for Express to relate to its actual customers.?