#LillyForTarget PR Dream, IT Nightmare

If you’re a Florida girl like me and live in the South, then the Lilly for Target designer collaboration aka “Pink Sunday” was as exciting as Christmas morning. Thousands of women (me included) set their alarms at 3am to snag clothing, accessories, children’s items and home decor from this one-of-a-kind designer collection.

From a PR perspective, the buzz generated from the announcement, lookbook and commercial, celebrity event and night before/day of in store and online collection launch was amazing. Since its announcement in January 2015, I’ve continued to see a steady stream of news surrounding the collaboration. The timeline was executed flawlessly with just enough time between the initial announcement to the sneak peak lookbook and commercial to the actual collection launch on April 19 to ensure the media covered each phase, while building excitement among the socialverse with loyal Lilly lovers and newbies alike.

The lookbook and commercial were amazing and over the top, featuring Chris Noth (Mr. Big from SATC), Bella Thorne, a Giraffe and a slew of other celebs. The celebrity launch party was also a huge success with stars like Shameless’ Emmy Rossum and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s Ellie Kemper sharing photos and numerous posts via Instagram and major outlets like E News once again covering the partnership. #LillyForTarget has been the #1 trending hashtag on Twitter for nearly an entire day with more than 10,000 tweets and counting.

If there were ever a question that partnering with Target to create a designer line at an affordable price to reach middle America was not a great move for a brand, please Google #LillyForTarget and hit “news” — you’ll find tons of stories from CNN to Refinery 29 and everything in between. On Twitter, local TV stations were soliciting stories from local residents on their Lilly for Target experience. The media attention alone has brought new focus and potential customers to Lilly. If you didn’t know Lilly Pulitzer, you’re probably intimately familiar with the iconic resort brand with the amazingly colorful prints, post Lillypocalypse.

Even with the negative tweets and news stories covering the angry women who were not able to purchase Lilly for Target in stores or online, the sheer amount of conversation and news attention generated has elevated both brands once again. Unfortunately with a limited time collection, one can only expect website crashes, empty stores within minutes and crazy people in line starting at 4am. America wouldn’t have it any other way. I personally find it fascinating to participate and watch this unfold.

For those in IT at Target and the employees braving the store this morning, I’m sure they’re ready for a nap. I loved the fact that Target mobile President Jason Goldberger live tweeted in the middle of the night and answered consumers’ questions. The one pr fail is the fact that once the website and mobile sites crashed, Jason stopped communicating via Twitter. Target should have anticipated madness and therefore crafted messaging to address this and the angry customers. With a highly anticipated launch such as Lilly for Target one could imagine the madness that would ensure online and in stores. Although no amount of tweets or communication will change that, I have seen an enormous amount of tweets and also stories questioning Target for their “radio silence.” There could have been a better way to implement a communication strategy in the wake of site crashes and lack of inventory and own that story rather than be blamed without comment.

I’m interested to see if this designer collaboration is duplicated once again perhaps next summer. Until then, I’lll enjoy reading the stories and tweets generated from the “Lilly for Target Apocalypse” and waiting for my pieces to arrive in the mail.

Would love to hear from others regarding their thoughts on #LillyForTarget. If you’re in pr, what did you think about Target’s pre, during and post launch plan? Did you purchase any Lilly and what was your strategy? Do you think this cheapens the brand or do you find it exciting when designer brands create attainable collections?

XoXo,

Ivette

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