Online fashion platform Lyst, which has the same backers as Spotify, Facebook and LVMH, launches a provocative debut ad campaign today and is breaking with fashion convention by using data to inspire its creative work.
Lyst will also announce today a new chief marketing officer, Christian Woolfenden, who gained a reputation as "chief mischief officer" at controversial U.K.bookmaker Paddy Power.
The first advertising from the five-year-old company – which is based in the U.K. but does 70% of its business in the U.S. – is by Anomaly London, and features glossy pictures next to controversial lines like, "Drop More Acid," "Get A Wax," and "On Your Knees, New York."
The twist is that the words refer not to banned substances, personal grooming, or sex acts – but to the clothes and the buying patterns around them. Each image is accompanied by snippets of data that Lyst is constantly collecting and updating.
Examples include, "Londoners outshopping New Yorkers on acid washed denim by 3-to-1," or "New Yorkers are buying five times more over-the-knee boots than ankle boots."
Chris Morton, CEO and founder of Lyst, said, "Our product is not conventional. We wanted beautiful images, but with an unusual, resonant take on fashion."
His new CMO Christian Woolfenden, whose appointment will be announced today is Bacardi's former global brand director. He's best known for his current role at Paddy Power, where he was global CMO and then managing director, retail for the U.K. and Ireland. He was responsible for Paddy Power's controversial marketing tactics, including the U.K.'s most complained-about ad last year. That ad encouraged people to bet on the verdict of the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic athlete who shot his girlfriend, with the line, "It's Oscar time. Money back if he walks." (Mr. Pistorius was convicted of the lesser crime of manslaughter in October 2014).
Lyst sees itself as the Spotify of the fashion world, with one foot in the tech start-up camp, and the other in fashion. It aims to bring the best retailers and designers -- from Burberry to Saks Fifth Avenue to Topshop -- together onto a single, accessible platform with a universal checkout. The site has 40 million customers, sales of $150 million, and an inventory of three million pieces.