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Marina – Doll, Blogger, Celebrity – Target’s Unique Approach to Fashion Line Launch

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In preparing for the highly anticipated Missoni for Target launch, Target “hired” a rather curious brand advocate: “Marina,” a doll. Yes, you read that correctly. The blogger Marina describes herself as “a real doll [with] joints, hinges and all!”

A blog — ‘all the way up here’ — written by Marina promotes the introduction of the Missoni brand at Target. The doll writes about her porcelain skin and hollowed body. However, it seems as though the savvy social media minds at Target are behind this fashionable “it” girl who promoted the September 13th launch of Missoni at Target.

The Tumblr account, which popped up in the blogosphere on April 5th, is primarily devoted to sharing information about the Target- Missoni collaboration. However, Marina also blogs about her home country of Italy, her excitement in moving to the big city of New York and her favorite fashion trends (particularly stripes, the pattern which adorns a majority of the Missoni lines) –all seen from the eyes of a doll. These random “personal” blog posts, sprinkled throughout those promoting the new collection, are no accident. Rather, these fashionista- inspired, whimsical posts are a way for Target to promote and grow its desired image for the line.

On August 10th, Marina received a gift from her new BFF Margarihta— better known as Margarihta Missoni, the brand champion and heir to the Missoni throne. The Tumblr account unveiled a number of pieces she had received in this “sneak peak” at the Missoni line. These looks were immediately shared by readers in the subsequent hours through Twitter accounts, Tumblr accounts and blogs.

Further, Margarihta Missoni, the face of the brand, has continued to keep the story alive by tweeting back and forth with her new best doll’s Twitter account (@marinawithstyle) and sharing Tumblr links.

During New York Fashion Week, Marina’s followers finally got a peek at the blogger, as the 25-foot doll, decked out in Missoni for Target merchandise with a giant smart phone in hand, made its way from venue to venue. As Fashion Week go-ers snapped pictures to upload to Twitter, Marina communicated back and re-tweeted images, further increasing followers’ excitement and engagement with the brand.

It only takes a little digging to learn Marina’s tweets don’t come from a “real doll,” but from Target’s marketing department, as a number of links utilize Target’s custom URL shortener, Tgt.bz. Some have commented on the shadiness in tricking consumers to believe Marina is a passionate fashion blogger. But we think that is taking things rather too seriously. As a consumer who anxiously awaited the launch, I can admit that even I have exchanged tweets with Marina about my excitement, knowing the marketing tactic is all in good- fun. Many readers either think giant, porcelain dolls can talk or, more than likely, of course, seem willing to suspend disbelief.

Either way, it’s working. With bloggers utilizing the “re-blog” feature of Tumblr and the real-time aspect of Twitter, Missoni for Target has spread like wild fire through the fashion, lifestyle and culture blogs on the internet. Target’s creation of a fictional fashionista to promote the brand through Tumblr has, thus far, proved strong. The highly anticipated collection created quite a buzz for the mass retailer/luxury brand collaborationenough to crash its website with a clamoring mob of online shoppers.

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