By 2014, vineyard vines was doing well in the preppy clothing market. The company had always used pictures of actual customers in its marketing, emphasizing its authenticity while engaging with its proven audience, and its founders saw an opportunity to do even more — especially with younger consumers — with social media.
The vineyard vines team was approached by a group of friends from Davidson College. The group had an Instagram account wholly dedicated to a pair of vineyard vines bright orange trousers one of them had worn to a horse race. The others would borrow the pants and wear them with relish on escapades like skiing, surfing and fishing. They called themselves “The Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants.”
The vineyard vines team loved it. They struck a deal: The company would feature pictures of the Brotherhood’s orange-pantsed adventures as part of its summer marketing campaign, and in exchange, would help the group raise the last $23,000 they needed to endow the $250,000 John Frankel Memorial Scholarship, named in honor of their friend.
Not only did the company’s Instagram account see more attention, there was a 300 percent increase in men’s pants sales. As for the scholarship, vineyard vines donated custom ties that the Brotherhood sold for $85 each, which completed the endowment.
Read more about how the vineyard vines social-media team built a sense of community with customers with relatable content in Meghan R. Murray’s article “‘Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants’ Gives Vineyard Vines a Social-Media Boost,” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.
The article is based on the case vineyard vines and the Brotherhood of the Traveling Pants (Darden Business Publishing), by Meghan Murray, Matthew Loftus and I.S. Dunklin.