Is Piperlime a Mean Girl?

Gap Brand Says 'Let's Get Dressed' but Not Everyone Is Ready to Hang Up the Hoodies

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NEW YORK ( -- Piperlime has raised the ire of some of its Facebook fans with a series of cheeky -- or "snotty," according to detractors -- wall posts last week.

Created by Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, the 'Let's Get Dressed' campaign is Piperlime's largest to date.
Created by Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, the 'Let's Get Dressed' campaign is Piperlime's largest to date.
The Gap brand began posting updates on Facebook and Twitter such as "Every time you wear sweatpants in public, a single guy leaves New York" and "Let's put Saturday-night effort into Sunday afternoon." While some fans found the posts entertaining, even applauding Piperlime for attacking sweatpants, others were enraged.

"Because of these posts, I'm removing Piperlime from my favorites. Don't really need bitchy-girl status posts on my wall every day," said one woman. "These status updates are terrible. I don't want to hear snotty commentary. I want to learn about trends and sales," said another woman who claimed to be in the business of advising companies on social media.

Piperlime responded with a post that it is "thrilled" by the "passion" on display on the page. "This fall we want to inspire everyone to think about the power and potential and fun of 'getting dressed,'" the brand told its nearly 20,000 fans, touting its new ad campaign.

The "Let's Get Dressed" campaign is the brand's largest to date and was created by Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, the brand's first agency of record. It is running in fashion magazines and celebrity weeklies this fall and features taglines such as "Hang up the hoodies" and "Step away from the sneakers." A complementary outdoor campaign will launch in New York on Sept. 1 to support the brand's pop-up store. An app on the brand's newly relaunched site is also in keeping with the campaign theme, allowing customers to try out new looks by dressing a mannequin.

"Piperlime has reached a point where we have some great traction behind us," said Jennifer Gosselin, general manager. "We've leveraged the Gap Inc. database, but it was time to go out with a bigger, louder voice."

Jennifer Olsen, VP-marketing, said the campaign is meant to connect with an older Gen Y shopper, age 20 to 30. Ms. Olsen said customer wants to be respected, but at the same time, she has lived through and probably taken part in overly casual trends. Yoga pants and flip-flops are likely a staple of her wardrobe. "There's a lot of power and potential, in terms of tapping into [the fact] that she wants to be respected and taken seriously and reject lazy dressing trends," Ms. Olsen said. "Those are the insights that drove this campaign. We're trying to galvanize her to step up her personal style."

But Ms. Gosselin admits the campaign, which, for better or worse, gives the brand a distinctive personality, may alienate some customers. A post from Friday morning -- "If the frenemy sees you out in public in your TV-watching clothes, the frenemy wins" -- may have missed the mark. "The moment we saw [the consumer] responding, we said, 'Too much edge today, let's go get some coffee,'" Ms. Gosselin said.

"That's the risk you run when you run any campaign and particularly one that is strong," she added. "The key thing is for people to understand the spirit it's intended in. It's intended to be playful and not preachy. .... We're an optimistic brand, not at all in the spirit of Mean Girls."

Despite its critics, the campaign has generated plenty of interest on Facebook. According to Piperlime, its "likes" increased 934% between the weeks of Aug. 2 and Aug. 9, while there was a 479% increase to the number of comments on the page.

Ms. Olsen said that the brand has reached out directly to some of the most vocal social-media detractors, though it hasn't gotten any feedback yet. "There have been quite a few customers that actively dislike this campaign, but there are a ton of customers that like it," she said. "We're seeing our posts retweeted. And we were not a brand that has been retweeted. This is engagement. We have to take the bad with the good."

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