Bluefly promotes Web site with racy campaign

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Fashion e-commerce site Bluefly Inc. created an interactive campaign that uses television and e-mail to take on the provocative subject of risking a fashion faux pas at work the day after an overnight fling.

In "The Catch," the TV and e-mail campaign that debuted March 11 and runs through April, Bluefly.com invites the audience to consider what to wear to the office following a weeknight sleepover with a date. Bluefly has sent out an e-mail survey to customers about what to do in a similar situation. Customers on the e-mail list and visitors to http://flypaper.bluefly.com can voice opinions on the campaign.

"People told us that it's a fun campaign," said Bradford Matson, chief marketing officer at Bluefly, New York. "When we asked them what they would do, 54 percent said that they would rush home and grab something, anything, while surprisingly 27 percent said that they always have something stashed away in their cubicle for such occasions."

Bluefly is an e-commerce site that mixes high-end fashion brands with closeout prices of Off Sacks and Nordstrom's Rack. Vera Wang dresses, Fendi handbags and Jimmy Choo shoes can be found for up to 40 percent off of the retail price.

The television promotion was aimed at directing consumers directly to the Web site.

"The nation is watching TV with their laptop open," Mr. Matson said. "It's not so much about explaining who we are in the ad, people will search it out if they are interested. All we need is to run a provocative ad and traffic will spike on our site."

The ads are part of a campaign aimed at building visibility for the Bluefly brand and retaining existing customers. The campaign began in the spring of 2005 when the e-commerce found that its awareness was low. Only 14 percent of the demographic recognized the brand. Mr. Matson said that he was looking for a way to communicate the brand identity without directly defining it.

"If we say that we're designer or off-price, then we're categorized," Mr. Matson said. "We believe that buying clothes is an emotional decision, so we created a series of ads that come from an emotional point-of-view."

Bluefly worked with New York-based ad agency McCaffery, Gottlieb and Lane to create the provocative campaign that is currently airing nationally in 15, 30 and 90 second spots on Bravo, Style Network, E, TBS, WE, Lifetime, AMC, FX and CW.

Mr. Matson said that Bluefly measured a direct connection between the TV ads and traffic to the e-commerce site.

"One Sunday between nine and ten when the commercial ran, we saw a 40 percent increase than our normal visits," he said.

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