EBay dips its toes in fashion with Project Runway partnership
At the end of every Project Runway episode, contestants sit nervously as their work is judged by the show’s hosts Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. Whether or not it meets their approval, contestants still might make a sale: Viewers who like the outfit can now buy the very ensemble featured on the show — the very next day.
Project Runway has tapped eBay, the online auction site, to sell contestants’ pieces straight off the runway, for the first time.
After every episode in the 15th season, currently airing Thursday nights on Lifetime, shoppers can go online and bid for each of the contestants looks. Dubbed “Project Runway Originals,” the auction page sits under a “Charity Shop” tab on eBay, with all proceeds going to New York-based charity Robin Hood Foundation.
For eBay, the partnership is a move away from its reputation of a used goods site, and a step towards becoming more of a legitimate online fashion platform.
However, the appeal for customers will still lie with its deal-hunting experience. “There’s a sense of discovery on eBay,” said Erwin Penland’s chief planning officer Jessica Navas. People may still think of eBay as leftovers, auctions and used goods, but it is increasingly becoming thought of as a fashion destination, she said, adding the partnership will only help to “bolster its cred.”
The contestants’ designs are sold through auctions on Friday mornings after the show airs the night before, and the auctions run for a week. The latest episode’s pieces included dresses, as well as short, pant and top combinations and at the time of writing, prices were sitting between $60 and more than $180 dollars.
From a marketing and strategic point of view, the combination of content and commerce coupled with audience engagement is a “trifecta,” said Chris Paradysz, founder and CEO of PMX Agency.
“It’s been 10 years plus since I considered eBay disruptive,” Paradysz said, “But this is a disruptive move for them,” adding it will propel them into conversations around fashion in a way they’ve never been. The charity element, he said, legitimizes the connection between the auction platform and Project Runway.
All three experts also noted the potential for audience engagement, which for other shows is largely limited to social media currently. Giving fans a chance to buy a look they see on a show inspires a much higher level of engagement than buying a branded shirt or mug from the tv’s website, Elder said.
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