Chose promise, chose due... Last week, I was invited by the Arcadia group (who owns Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Topshop and Wallis) for a very pleasant dinner at The Ivy. I was told a few months ago it would be a "round table" of fashion and that Arcadia really wanted to step away from their first blogger event a year or so ago and really engage with bloggers.
After being on the receiving end of several rather poor attempts at blogger outreach from various brands, my first reaction was enthusiastic with a hint of cynicism. How could a brand successfully achieve an unbiased fashion round table? Would they really know which journalists and bloggers to invite? Would they really invite journalists and bloggers at the same time?
The answer is yes. During this evening, Arcadia showed an extremely good grasp of the online world and its dynamic, and went even a little bit further. Each journalist and each blogger were gifted a Flip Mino camera, not necessarily to document the evening, but to help us embrace the future of online content (which is supposedly video, but I am still not entirely convinced).
From a blogger's perspective, it was nice to finally be treated in a simple and respectful way and to have the opportunity to socialise with a few other bloggers while sitting down for dinner. For my part, I find that during most events, the socialising with bloggers is a little artificial and a little bit forced. I am not the most sociable person so put me in a room with 50 bloggers I don't know and I just tend to sit somewhere with a friend and observe... However, put me at a dinner table with 5 bloggers I know a little and I am like a fish in the sea.
I think this is where Arcadia really "got it". Rather than throwing a mediocre event for 100 people and get 100 times the same content across the blogosphere, they organised a very interesting one with only 30 people and each of us can interpret it as we please.
Of course, Arcadia gets something out of it - nothing is entirely altruistic in business. What they get is very subtle brand image kudos. When I think about them I see a brand that "gets it" simply, without the help of some overpriced gimmicky "conversation" agency.
If you want to see interviews with some of the bloggers at the event, have a look at Grazia Daily.
My Macbook charger died a horrible death yesterday so unfortunately I can't access my photos from the evening, so this is a text only post.