Q&A: Justin Cooke, chief marketing officer, Topshop

Topshop’s CMO Justin Cooke explains why his brand took advantage of the Harlem Shake meme and how important online video is to the brand’s marketing.


Marketing Week (MW): What inspired the Harlem Shake video featuring models Jourdan Dunn, Cara Delevingne and Rosie Tapner?

Justin Cooke (JC): It happened very naturally – the girls were in line-up just before the [autumn/winter 2013 fashion] show was about to start. Myself and the team had been showing them some of the versions [of Harlem Shake] and said it would be so much better if there was a version with cool girls and then Jourdan just started dancing. At Topshop the camera is always rolling, we capture everything, and that was a perfect moment.

MW: What was it that tapped into people’s imaginations and made it so popular?

JC: The girls are clearly enjoying themselves and Cara really brings a comedy element with her stoic face. I also think as all the other versions were men, we brought

a playful feminine side to it that made it more relevant to a wider audience. It’s a fun film and Cara and Jourdan are currently the biggest models in the world and have always been part of the Topshop family, so young girls want a look inside their world. The film had around 10,000 views an hour and hit 1 million in two days.

MW: Following the success of the video, is it something you might consider doing again in future incorporating other trends?

JC: I think that’s what Topshop is famous for – bringing the coolest trends to people ahead of time. We believe that should go across product, lifestyle, culture and everything. This is actually the perfect summary

of the way we approach our brand and our marketing. This was something really huge that was happening online and we brought that to our fans but with a Topshop filter making it relevant and exciting for our audience.

MW: How important is online video to Topshop’s overall marketing strategy?

JC: It’s one of many aspects, but we believe they all work in tandem. The beauty of video is that we can say exactly what we want – it’s like being a movie director.

You can choose the cast, the script and you know the ending. That’s powerful for us.

We also believe it’s the mix that’s important; the music is crucial to that. We believe we can make a real emotional connection to the customer, whether that’s a fun and playful moment like the Harlem Shake or a more romantic and whimsical moment like our Chinese New Year film. There is a saying that a picture tells a thousand words, well maybe a video tells a million.

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