Method Detergent Starts Selling a Fashion Collection

Refinery29 Helps Promote the Clothes, on Sale on Asos as a Marketing Ploy

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Method, the eco-friendly soap and detergent maker, has teamed up with online fashion retailer Asos on a 10-piece fashion collection. But the clothes are actually part of a marketing campaign, themed "Style By Method," to promote its latest product, 4x Concentrated Laundry Detergent.

The collection itself, called Method <3 Asos, went up for sale on Asos this morning. Asos and Method picked the line based on fashion trends for spring and summer, working in a very 1970s vibe.

To drive awareness of the clothes and the detergent, Method has tapped style site Refinery29 to create sponsored content. Clever Girl, a confab of bloggers and so-called social influencers, was enlisted to share their sentiments about the product on social media. (They'll be using the hashtag #stylebymethod.)

Alison Worthington, the company's global chief marketing officer, said method will spend up to $10 million on integrated marketing in 2015, which includes digital videos, banner ads, content, social media and public relations. About 20% to 30% will be dedicated to the Style by Method campaign, which will be promoted in digital channels.

"Our consumer is a digital native," Ms. Worthington said. "As we relaunch our laundry detergent, we want to connect with our consumer in a way that's as compelling and relevant as our product is disruptive."

Method is the David to hygiene aisle Goliaths like SC Johnson and Procter & Gamble. The 15-year-old company reportedly generated revenue of more than $100 million in 2012, when Belgian company Ecover bought Method for an undisclosed price.

"We're a small brand, but we're investing to grow it," said Ms. Worthington, a former Microsoft executive who joined Method in January 2013.

The main key performance indicator, or KPI, for the "Style by Method" campaign is purchase intent, according to Ms. Worthington. But the company plans to capture other information about consumer response across all aspects of the campaign, she added.

The content-focused effort is a departure from the brand's earlier marketing efforts, which included print ads that compared Method with its competitors.

Style by Method -- which was developed by Essence, the company's digital agency of record -- will live on the Asos site.

Refinery29 is meanwhile creating videos and photo galleries on how to style the clothing items and take care of them using Method detergent. A video series rolling out April 30 will also feature octogenarian fashion icon Joyce Carpati -- who worked at Cosmopolitan magazine during the Helen Gurley Brown years -- talking about personal style while using the new line of Method laundry detergent.

The content will contain labels to indicate Method is paying for them, Refinery29 executives told Ad Age. Articles and videos, for instance, will be co-branded with Method, according to Anna Plaks-Parker, Refinery29's VP-brand experience.

The campaign is "another example of Refinery29 coming in as creative counsel and working with two brands … to create a narrative and context and connecting it to a millennial audience," Philippe von Borries, Refinery29's co-founder and co-CEO, added.

Refinery29 has generated revenue north of $50 million thanks largely to content-marketing programs that enlist its editors. It's a strategy that has pushed legacy fashion and beauty publishers such as Cosmo to put their own editors to work making ads.

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