Rihanna Umbrellas From Totes: Marketing 50 Case Study

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Photo: Tony Pettinato
Once you hear Rihanna's Grammy-winning "Umbrella," good luck getting those lyrics out of your head. What Totes heard was opportunity knocking when Def Jam Recordings, preparing to release the single, suggested the company create a product line with the then up-and-coming songstress.

Kristen Stary, category director-rain products at Totes-Isotoner Corp., "thought it was a great opportunity to reach a younger demographic." The umbrella line, available at Macy's and totes.com, launched in summer 2007. A second line made its debut last February.

"We put one umbrella online as a soft test and couldn't keep it in stock," says Ms. Stary, 39, who adds that today "the Rihanna umbrella line makes up 15% of our online sales, which is tremendous given it's such a niche product."

The line brought with it its own celebrity endorser, especially as Rihanna rose to Grammy status. Totes relied heavily on media mentions placed through Northlich, Cincinnati, which reports more than 350 million media impressions so far. Rihanna previewed the new line via an in-store promotion at New York's Macy's Herald Square.

Northlich also organized a meet-and-greet session during Fashion Week 2008. That gave Totes ink in fashion magazines and a mention in celebrity-gossip blog PerezHilton.com. The day after that mention, totes.com shot to more than 24,000 daily hits from its average of 3,000.

"We got to work the next morning, and it was, 'What happened?'" Ms. Stary says.
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