PacSun: Dress Irresponsibly

PacSun, the skate and surf apparel retailer, is partnering up with a large number of lifestyle sports brands on a major marketing initiative this summer in a bid to update its positioning and firmly root itself as an essential part of the California lifestyle.

The campaign sees the retailer teaming up with 12 of the top action sports brands, including Hurley, Quicksilver, O’Neill and Billabong and a number of iconic sportsmen.

The ‘Dress Irresponsibly’ campaign has central elements that are reminiscent of Diesel’s 'Be Stupid’ initiative, as it invites consumer to risk everything and become brave and bold instigators of fun.

The accompanying TV commercials for the promotion, directed by So Me of Ed Banger Records fame, benefits from an iconic music twist as they juxtapose fashion and sports imagery with the Frank Sinatra’ track ‘Call Me Irresponsible’.

The use of Frank here echoes the heritage values of the brand, ensuring they do not come across as a new player, but as a brand that has a seminal status in the branding of California itself.

“The juxtaposition of 20 action sports athletes representing the best skate, surf and motocross brands combined with the unsurpassed style of Frank Sinatra speaks to the unique sense of style and individuality that is the cornerstone of action sports and our brand PacSun," said Gary Schoenfeld, CEO of PacSun.

In a bid to push the brand’s new spontaneous mantra it recently organised 15 simultaneous Bikini Mash Up Flash Mobs across different US retail locations. What’s a Bikini Mash Up Flash Mob you ask? Well, it’s much the same as a normal flash mob, except with more flesh on display and an exclusive music mash up soundtrack to boot.

Now flash mobs that have been executed well are few and far between - see T-Mobile’s efforts for one of the only examples of it looking good on film and generating mass appeal - with many best left forgotten. PacSun’s flash effort offers us a group of youths who disrobe to their swimwear in what looks like a very cold part of LA, as they gyrate their noticeable un-sunkissed bodies to the music.

Unfortunately, not even the exclusive Passion Pit created ‘My Body's Not Your Toy’ soundtrack (a mash up of La Roux's 'I'm Not Your Toy' and Young the Giant's 'My Body') manages to save this flash mob from looking overly staged and somewhat unnatural. Which is a shame given the campaign’s strong emphasis on self-expression.

The trouble with flash mobs – apart from the obvious downside of its overuse by marketers – is that they never quite manage to escape the fact that they have a ‘prepared earlier’ quality to them, which can often make the whole process feel laboured and unrealistic, especially to lifestyle brands.

Focusing on on natural moments of shared spontaneity and creativity is where this camapigns strength lies - however, if a flash mob is what the brand wants to convey then they could do worse than the mass 'skate mob' hinted at in its TV commercial below.

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