In 2007 while working in-house as Art Director and Brand Manager at Element USA, Ply Founder John Alvino conceived, launched and curated the Element Eden Advocate Program. Tasked with creating a marketing campaign for the struggling Element Eden (women's) division, John decided to take a unique approach in an increasingly homogenous market. John elaborates, "At the time, I did a good amount of retail, magazine and street research and what I saw was a lot of models that all looked the same, shot in similar apparel, in similar situations. I remember thinking it was so bad that you could switch different brands logos on an ad or retail image and you wouldn't notice the difference, it all looked the same." He goes on to say, "It seemed to me that there was a huge opportunity to present a broader version of what it meant to be a young woman by presenting inspirational women from all walks of life, poets, artist, athletes, musicians and more. I really felt that the broader and more inspirational we could make it, the more consumers it would appeal to."
With that simple goal in mind John then set out to define and launch the program, including coining the term "advocate" for the girls the brand was to feature in the campaign. From there he selected the first advocate Brooke Reidt and set out to work with her on how the program would work, including compensation, term, expectations, and then on to the actual creative and art direction for the campaign shoots.
"At that time, Element was such a small crew that we basically just ran with things. So the Eden Advocate Program was no different. Once it was approved, it was just a matter of selecting the first girl, hiring the photographers, doing the interview with the Advocate and ultimately laying out the ads and other collateral and it was off and running." He says. From there the program exploded as did sales of the women's collection which was driven by the Eden designer, Wendy Choi.
"The Eden Advocate Program and campaign is a project I'll always be really proud of because we really shook things up and turned the entire women's market in a more positive direction. We had girls emailing, sending letters and contacting us through myspace with so much excitement, it was just a really great thing to see and be a part of. Not only that but the term advocate and the entire concept was immediately adopted by almost every brand in our industry and continues to be used heavily by many successful brands."
He closes by saying, "This campaign was also a great opportunity to implement my personal photo aesthetic and work with photographers I had been friends with for years as well as a few I met during the campaign but continue to work with today including Brigitte Sire, Boogie, Eric Coleman and Brian Gaberman. Overall it was just inspiring to work with all the different artist, musicians, poets and photographers especially at a time when it was really uncharted territory."