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Express unzips new ad for Instagram fans ahead of TV rollout

Express is merging digital and traditional advertising methods by building excitement for a new commercial featuring supermodel Karlie Kloss with a rollout on Instagram 24 hours before it hit televisions nationwide.

The millennial-favorite retailer aimed to reward its loyal Instagram followers with a sneak peek at the commercial, which showcases the fall 2015 denim line. The brand is likely attempting to ramp up its focus on social media to reach younger consumers, and is leveraging its partnership with Karlie Kloss, who boasts nearly three million Instagram fans, to reach this goal.

?Making a private Instagram announcement to provide a sneak preview of the Karlie Kloss TV ad was a clever way to reward its more than 300,000 Instagram followers and make them feel exclusive,? said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. ?The exclusivity of private announcements is a great way to enhance customer loyalty and curate brand enthusiasts.?

Innovating Instagram
While many brands have turned their marketing efforts to social media networks such as Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, Express is maintaining its stronghold on the photo-sharing application with the commercial rollout.

The brand posted the new ad on its Instagram account on Sunday, with a caption telling users they could watch it one day before it hits televisions nationwide.

The commercial features Ms. Kloss showing off a slew of new denim designs for the ?Fit for You? campaign. She is also the face of the Express One Eleven line.

This is a smart move for the brand to make its followers feel rewarded for keeping up with its posts by allowing them to view a sneak peek before anyone else sees the new ad. 

More retailers are rolling out content exclusive to social media to ensure that users feel it is worthwhile to continue following their favorite brands.

Express also has its own account on Snapchat, which it updates with behind-the-scenes material. The brand recently sponsored the Pemberton Music Festival in British Columbia and posted videos of fans interacting with its pop-up shop to its Snapchat Story.

Social media supermodels
Retailers are increasingly choosing to team up with models who boast significant social media followings, as they are able to effectively communicate with and target millennials as well as concurrently boost the brand?s profile.

?I think it?s an interesting approach,? said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, Miami. ?It strikes me that everyone is in a fight to the death for eyeballs, as the eyeballs themselves are inundated with content.?  

Express made sure to tag Ms. Kloss?s Instagram profile in its post caption, highlighting the cross-marketing opportunity that abounds between retailers and social media-savvy models.

In turn, models frequently upload photos or videos from campaign shoots, which may aid many brands in bolstering awareness among specific demographics that they may not have had access to previously.

Express has also been ramping up its mobile efforts to include a bigger focus on payments and commerce.

An Express executive at eTail West 2015 discussed the significant impact on mcommerce the brand?s geo-bidding efforts had when used to ramp up awareness of new stores or holiday sales, and revealed the clothing retailer?s relevant cross-partnerships also snagged a wider audience of potential consumers (see story).

Express is also joining the growing list of retailers to roll out Apple Pay in bricks-and-mortar stores in an attempt to further develop customer service by offering a faster checkout and shortening purchasing lines (see story).

?According to research from Forrester, 87 percent of Instagram users are under the age of 35 and 55 percent are female,? Boston Retail Partners' Mr. Morris said. ?Instagram is a great platform for Express, and other millennial-friendly retail brands, to communicate private announcements and connect with their customers.

?Another way retailers can engage and connect with consumers on Instagram is by using interactive games or contests with prizes. According to BRP?s 2015 CRM Survey, 87 percent of retailers plan to use gamification to engage the customer within five years.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York