The Viral Marketing Behind Hot Hoodies

Playground crazes sell stuff. We established this in my last post when we looked at the Dappy hat. But does the item have to be cheap to spread through the school yard ?

Well not if you are Jack Wills, one of the most expensive brands ever to gain a toe-hold in the cult youth  market.

It started in Salcombe, Devon in 1999 (which really should say it all.)

The clothing is inspired by traditional University and public school styles and the price is part of the brand’s bid for exclusivity. The hoodies are £60 and have the Jack Wills name printed prominently on the back.

They have been compared with Abercrombie and Fitch but you really need to be thinking Brideshead Revisited.

The sensibility may be retro but the marketing is anything but.

Jack Wills does not advertise but goes instead for word of mouth viral marketing bolstered by events; Varsity Polo Match anyone?

Their website links to the blogs of ski ‘seasonnaires’  doing the chalet-bunny thing in top-notch ski resorts.  JW host parties for them in places like Val D’Isere and give away their gear as prizes. In summer they focus on smart locations in the Sates like Martha’s Vineyard. They are VERY switched on.

The prize is clearly ‘posh with dosh’ students who will then advertise the clothes by sporting them  in various trendy locations around the globe. It’s Fat Face with a Mansion.

But what they’ve picked up in their wake is a whole bunch of wannabe  school kids who are clubbing together to get their friends Jack Wills merchandise for birthday presents.

These girls (it’s mainly girls) know that designer goods and smart phones cost a lot, but they don’t seem to mind. They calculate that the kudos gained by owning one of these item will be worth it.

So Jack Wills is;

  • Exclusive
  • Elitist
  • Expensive
  • Hard to find

Whether its low rent hats or top dollar hoodies, our kids have very firm ideas about what they want. They don’t like to be dictated to, so any attempts to kick-start crazes have to be handled smartly. But if you catch them right, then the rewards are huge.


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