Justin Timberlake to Star in William Rast Campaign

Pop Star Will Be Featured in Online Films, Print Effort for His Fashion Label

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- William Rast is turning on the star power this fall.
My Name Is William Rast

Justin Timberlake is the star of the campaign, which includes a series of short online films, as well as print and outdoor media.

William Rast, a clothing label founded in 2005 by Justin Timberlake and his best friend, Trace Ayala, is for the first time cementing its ties with the pop superstar via a fall campaign it hopes will quickly go viral. Mr. Timberlake will star in the campaign, which includes a series of short online films, as well as print and outdoor media. He also co-wrote the screenplay and wrote an original score for the films.

'My Name Is ...'
The campaign, themed "My Name Is William Rast," marks the debut advertising push for the label and coincides with the launch of men's and women's ready-to-wear collections. Until now, William Rast has focused on premium denim.

"The brand has evolved quite a bit in the last two-and-a-half years," said Colin Dyne, CEO of William Rast. "Justin's involvement in the brand has been quite significant in the last 12 months since his tour has been over. Now he's able to use the brand as one of his creative expressions. That played a major role in how the whole thing came about."

Mr. Timberlake plays the role of William Rast, a fictional character, in the campaign, set to launch early next month. Model Erin Wasson plays his girlfriend, Birdie. The print and outdoor media will support the films, resembling movie posters and directing consumers to williamrastmovie.com for the premiere.

Broadening the base
"We wanted to create a buzz around the brand, and we wanted to try to create a campaign in a more modern way to reach a more modern consumer, people on the internet and all types of new media," Mr. Dyne said. "Obviously, Justin being in the campaign is going to create more awareness for the brand and exposure for the campaign. ... With that we'll get consumers on board, and we'll broaden the customer base over time."

William Rast targets a high-end clientele, with its premium denim commanding upward of $200 and the new ready-to-wear collection pricing T-shirts for $60 and outerwear for $400. With this new campaign, however, the label will also be looking to tap into the "YouTube generation."

The company plans to seed the campaign on between 30 and 40 social-networking sites and blogs. And it will also be distributing widgets through sites such as Facebook and MySpace. "We're expecting quite a huge viral pick up," Mr. Dyne said. "We believe by the September time frame we'll be in the millions and millions of hits on our videos."

The Timberlake connection
The brand handled the entire campaign in-house, with the exception of employing a few new-media consultants to help with seeding and development. The private company declined to comment on budget for the campaign or sales of the brand.

The campaign will also establish Mr. Timberlake's involvement for some customers, said Mr. Dyne, noting that the brand has not touted its superstar connection in the past.

"Now that Justin's got more time, he's really made William Rast one of his passions. He wants to build this into a big, global lifestyle brand," Mr. Dyne said. "It made sense for him to play the role of William Rast and use that as a creative expression, as opposed to just holding up a pair of jeans and saying, 'Buy these jeans, because I'm Justin Timberlake.'"

Designers Marcella and Johan Lindeberg helped develop the campaign concept, while Grammy Award-winner Jonas Akerlund shot and directed the films. Each episode runs between 15 seconds and 90 seconds and all were shot using 16-millimeter film to create a raw feel. The story line revolves around William Rast and Birdie, a Bonnie and Clyde-esque duo who are on the run -- clad in William Rast duds, of course -- and occasionally pause for romantic trysts.

"It's quite open to determine whether they're good guys or bad guys. And that will continue in the seasons that follow," Mr. Dyne said. "It's not necessarily finished story lines, [which] gives the campaign a lot of [longevity]."
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