Allen Solly’s I Hate Ugly: I like it, kinda

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In the fashion category, advertising is often the differentiator. Since genuine product differentiation is rare, the imagery around the brand often drives preference. Years ago, Allen Solly introduced a line of clothing for office wear which was so different from the convention, there was genuine ‘new news’ in advertising terms. The term, ‘Friday Dressing’ was coined and what was once laughed at as clothes ‘Telegu movie heroes’ would wear, became acceptable in office. You know, the dark red shirt with a ghastly tie and mustard pants. That style got copied later across brands and unconventional formal wear stopped being a unique differentiator. Also, there is a world beyond formal wear which every fashion brand is trying to address.

In this context, Allen Solly has refurbished their advertising with a new multi-media campaign. ‘I hate ugly’ as the overarching theme.


‘Good looking clothes’ is pretty much a plain vanilla proposition – it could apply to virtually any brand in the category. ¬†What gives it the edge is the attitudinal statement, ‘I hate ugly’. Iconic fashion advertising – Hathaway’s man with the eye patch, some of the United Colors of Benetton – has relied on advertising ‘likability’ to lead to brand affinity. The ‘I hate ugly’ platform has the potential to go beyond showcasing pretty girls and clothes.

They are currently running an online contest where consumers are asked to write in ‘what they hate’ in their world. There is also a Twitter page where entires from the campaign website are posted as tweets. The last tweet is on Oct 23 (as I write this) so one imagines that the traffic to the website is drying up. Or maybe the campaign period is over. I thought the idea ‘I hate ugly’ had lot more potential than just these two activities – a lot more buzz could have been created. A search on Twitter for ‘ihateugly’ returned one entry. I am not advocating that they copy what Moonfruit did with their Macbook promo (Twitter removed the Moonfruit hashtag later) but I am sure tweeters would have happily hash tagged stuff they hate (there is enough material going around for that!) and it could have added to the buzz around the campaign. I don’t recall seeing any online or offline campaign to increase traffic to the contest site (maybe there is one) but that too has a lot of potential to create buzz, from online communities and so on.

While attempts have been made to go beyond mass media advertising, have the activities used the medium to their best advantage?

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1 Comment

  1. I agree. I probably single-handedly contribute to half of all the “I hate” tweets and even I didn’t know of the online/social media activities for this campaign till I read this post.

    Seriously though, whiney tweets are probably the easiest to find. Which is why it’s kinda disappointing to see their Twitter page has such a small bunch of followers. Add to that, there’s a complete disconnect in tone between the print advertising and the Twitter updates. Somehow (and this is just me), the “I hate corruption” tweets just don’t go down too well with the uber cool clothing thing.

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