For the second season in a row, Tumblr is sending bloggers to Fashion Week, where, with the help of some partner brands, the young writers and photographers will get to do fun things with designers, like meet them or go to their shows or eat scones at their apartments. Then they can put posts about their frolics on their blogs, making them look like they hit the big time and giving Tumblr an edge in positioning itself as the blogging platform you use if you want to post about fashion. So the bloggers win, Tumblr wins, and the brands — do they win?
For the strategy to work, labels have to get something in return, and whatever publicity they're getting out of these bloggers isn't enough for at least one brand that's invested a lot in Tumblr: Ann Taylor. Jessica Coghan, Director of Digital Media at the fashion PR firm Starworks, which represents Ann Taylor and other brands like Kate Spade, wrote on her personal Tumblr:
So, I am sure you have all heard that Tumblr is sending some bloggers to fashion week again this season. I have also had the pleasure of seeing their sponsorship proposal being shopped around to brands, which I am not supposed to be talking about. I will say this someone is completely out of their goddamn mind.
Fashion brands have adopted this platform in a big way and do you want to know what fashion brands need from Tumblr? An analytics dashboard! We are on all here managing blogs with the help of Google Analytics, but there is nothing catering to the tumblr only based metrics — reblogs, likes, followers, etc. There is nothing out there to help brands quantify their presence here. What works? What doesn’t? And it’s not about visitors- it’s about engagement in the oh so tumblr way.
They could actually make money from this analytics platform — I would pay for it for my clients. I would absolutely get behind a cost like that on an evergreen basis, which has to make way more money than this flash in the pan fashion week nonsense.
Ann Taylor's Julie Fredrickson, who does digital and social media for the company, added more pointed criticism at Rich Tong, Tumblr's fashion director, in her screed:
I am going to go on record saying that no one at Tumblr reached out to Ann Taylor with a proposal for Fashion Week and we are
1) the first fashion brand to be on Tumblr (even though we carefully avoid press since this piece as a company)
2) have invested MAJOR brand and development dollars into the platform (see ArtSheSaid, OnTumblr) going on for over a year now.
3) Actually have the wherewithall [sic] and knowledge to be a good sponsor of this as a company
Please someone who is a grown up at Tumblr listen to the brands that care about you. It isn’t just Users First, Brands Second. Hell at this point you are Users First, Brands never. Take a cue from Michael Lazerow’s comments on that post and realize that brands pay the bills when VCs stop.
Rich Tong-if you don’t actively pursue these options you are not doing your job. You know that Ann Taylor loves Tumblr, you know that we invest money, and yet you have ignored us. Unless I am mistaken your job is “Fashion Director” so act like it.
It might be important to bear in mind that with Fashion Week a week away, this is a tense time of year for the industry, which is at its busiest and most stressed out. But it's also important to bear in mind that all we're really dealing with, when it comes to Fashion Week, is some chicks — and the occasional dude — wearing clothes.