Etsy + Rent The Runway collaborate on a Halloween Bazaar

One of the most creative partnerships I’ve seen recently is between Rent the Runway and Etsy.  I received the below email last week about their Halloween Bazaar, which was my introduction to the collaboration:

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 9.14.46 PM

RTR showcased roughly 50+ Halloween outfits for inspiration (dresses you can rent through RTR transformed into costumes with the help of accessories via Etsy).  I thought the user experience and design of this concept was fantastic – when you moused over each outfit, two links appeared, so you could quickly navigate to RTR or to Etsy.  For instance, when you hovered over the pumpkin costume, here’s what you saw:

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 9.15.10 PM

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 9.15.17 PM

You could then either click through to rent the dress:

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 9.15.52 PM

Or shop the accessories:

Screen Shot 2013-10-11 at 9.15.40 PM

All in all, I thought it was a smart partnership, likely to draw media attention and inform users that RTR is not just good for special occasions (weddings, etc) but encourage users to use the platform in a novel way.

A few other observations:

  • I’m guessing this was primarily a public relations initiative, aimed at generating buzz for Rent The Runway. This collaboration allowed them to create a new storyline about renting dresses for one-time use, as people don’t need to own their Halloween costumes all year and are unlikely to re-wear them.  Collaborating allowed them to likely utilize Etsy resources to help promote the collaboration too.
  • Related, user acquisition was likely a focal part of the strategy on both company’s ends. I didn’t see how Etsy messaged this offering to their users other than on their blog, but cross-pollination of users was a likely goal and outcome. (When you visit or search Etsy for “Halloween” there is no mention of it.)
  • Although I thought the UX and concept on the RTR site were unique, the execution once you clicked through felt a bit disconnected. When you clicked through to the Etsy site, you didn’t see the exact accessories that were portrayed in the costume shot, but rather similar products that were bucketed under that general category. As you can see in the illustration, you saw pumpkin-related items, but the actual items were not necessarily included or shoppable.
  • The outfit ideas themselves were super creative!  Great inspiration if anyone is still looking for Halloween costume ideas, whether you rent their dresses or not (a bit pricey if you ask me to rent most of these costumes)!
  • The relationship with Buzzfeed, Refinery29 and P.S. I Made This felt a bit contrived to me – like they just wanted these outlets to cover the news and announcement, so they incorporated their “picks” on the site as a way for them to cover this collaboration.
  • Looks like RTR also translated this into a social media giveaway on Facebook. Kudos for pulling out all stops and really putting together a cohesive and integrated marketing campaign.

I suppose if I ended this post saying a Halloween-spirited “BOO!” I’d be sending a very mixed message, because in my book this collaboration actually classifies as a big YAY.