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Tipsy Elves Co-Founder On Tinder, And Taking Marketing Risks

Romance on mobile is on the rise. According to new research from Liftoff, dating app subscriptions saw a spike last year, with higher rates of signups in the colder months – from late August to February. As more singles are trying their luck at finding love on dating apps, and big players like Tinder are testing out new technology like AI to improve user experience. Marketers are turning to Tinder too, with out-of-the-box campaigns meant to capture consumers’ hearts.

Tipsy Elves, a popular retail brand that skyrocketed after a successful Shark Tank appearance, turned to Tinder during the holiday season to help their eccentric sweater brand shine.

Evan Mendelsohn, co-founder and co-CEO of Tipsy Elves, explains:  

The holiday season is one of the busiest and most important times for us at Tipsy Elves. We create hundreds of sweaters specifically for the season and have expanded from “ugly Christmas sweaters” to all sorts of holiday apparel, including Hanukkah sweaters, nondenominational sweaters, leggings, shirts, accessories and more.

These “ugly” holiday sweaters gain more popularity each year, so we see more and more competitors pop up. Our goal is to stand out from the crowd and be the most memorable for online shoppers — not just with our fun designs, but with fun marketing, too. This means strategically placing ads and executing campaigns that will get us noticed.

In 2017 we partnered with Swarovski crystals to create one of the most expensive ugly Christmas sweaters ever — a $30,000 bedazzled sweater featuring Santa riding a unicorn in space. It instantly went viral, and was a real success. For holiday 2017, we wanted to do a marketing stunt that was equally as fun and unexpected. We were joking around one day about how funny it would be if Santa was single and signed up for a dating app, and quickly realized that we were onto something.

We immediately thought of Tinder as an ideal partner. We reached out explaining our idea, and the partnership was born. The plan was to create custom “Swipe Right on Santa” and “Swipe Right on Ms. Claus” sweaters, put the amicable exes on Tinder and give users the chance to win their very own North Pole-approved Tinder sweater. Our goal was to create buzz by doing something unique, and reach a new audience and gather new customer data in the process.

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Tinder created profiles for the newly-single Mr. and Ms. Claus and the profiles were integrated into the user platform in early December. If users swiped right on either of the profiles they would receive a message from their match detailing how they could enter to win a customized Tipsy Elves x Tinder sweater.Traditionally, we rely heavily on email marketing and Facebook advertisements, so a marketing partnership with Tinder was not only something new and innovative for us, but also something fun for Tinder. We even sent some of the customized sweaters to their office for their team to enjoy as well.

A post shared by Tipsy Elves (@tipsyelves) on

One of the main challenges with the Single Santa campaign was taking a risk with a message we weren’t sure how users would react to. But the social reaction was mostly positive and people were excited to see Santa on Tinder. During the time Santa and Ms. Claus were on Tinder, their profiles reached almost 7 million users, with over 100k clicks to our site and 15,000+ entries to win a custom Tinder sweater.

Most of our customers are Millennials, so we’re always looking for how we can most effectively target them in unique ways that don’t feel like advertising. This fits into our digital-first marketing strategy. We’ve experimented with brick-and-mortar pop-up shops before and those generally do well, but the bulk of our sales come from our website – especially mobile traffic. It’s always top-of-mind to hit those buyers online and on their phone, where they spend the most time.The Single Santa campaign with Tinder was super fun, generated tons of traffic and was right on brand for us — the top goals for all our marketing campaigns.

Our suggestion for other retailers looking to do an over-the-top or innovative stunt is to think of your core values as a company and your marketing goals, and make sure that no matter what channel or method you use, the campaign fulfills both of them equally. The best campaigns come when your customers don’t even realize it’s marketing!

Key Takeaways

Who would have thought that an “ugly sweater” company would use a dating app as a platform for marketing? What can other companies and marketers take away from this innovative risk? Whether you’re starting a campaign for a sleep and stress test or you’re the owner of a small fashion boutique, you must think outside of the box. 

Utilize the many marketing and social media platforms to get to know your target audience, including their preferences and interests. Harness the data using analytic tools and reports to develop unique ways to reach ideal customers. 

For example, you may find that you can sell more at-home test kits for sleep and stress if you collaborate with a therapist that can serve as an influencer. Similarly, a fashion boutique owner may find that offering discounts to nearby cleaners gets them more business. 

At the end of the day, if you want to boost sales, generate revenue, and beat out the competition, you must continually think of innovations to put you ahead. Just as Tipsy Eleves learned, success is just outside your comfort zone. 

Evan Mendelshon is the co-founder and co-CEO of Tipsy Elves

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