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You know the old saying, "Put on your dancing shoes." Well, the newest additions to Cotton Incorporated's FABRIC OF OUR LIVES™ advertising campaign makes you feel like putting on your dancing clothes.

Cotton Incorporated, Cary, N.C., has had such great success with the campaign it launched in 1998, it has decided to capitalize on the existing strengths and refresh the look by adding two new, edgy commercials to the batch, says Mark Messura, vice president of strategic planning.

"Inserting two new commercials that have the same thematic style has allowed us to extend the campaign for a longer amount of time," says Messura. "We are keeping four active commercials, yet still keeping it fresh for the consumer."

The settings for the commercials are an office and a hotel. "The one thing you'll notice that is completely different about these new commercials is that people are dancing," says J. Berry Worsham, president and CEO of Cotton Incorporated. "The new commercials allow us to showcase the types of attractive yet comfortable cotton clothes we wear to work and to go out," adds Worsham.

The spots aired during the November sweeps on several of NBC's primetime programs, including Fraser, ER, The West Wing and Law & Order. Cotton Incorporated was a major Thanksgiving Day advertiser and will be during the Winter Olympics this month. The spots also have frequently appeared on The WB, UPN and VH1, as well as daytime soaps.


Cotton Incorporated believes that advertising and promotion are the key ways to reach consumers, but they don't come cheap. Messura says the increasing cost of advertising makes it a challenge to get your message out. That is one of the reasons the organization has worked hard to learn what consumers want and their related buying habits.

Cotton Incorporated's Lifestyle Monitor™ is a unique telephone survey research program that was developed in 1994 to gather consumer attitudinal information for targeted marketing and advertising. The program interviews over 4,000 U.S. consumers each year between the ages of 16 and 70. The goal of the effort is to find which groups in America are "most susceptible to the cotton message," says Messura. He explains that the survey seeks out consumers' attitudes to shopping, the importance of fibers and fabrics, trends in fiber, etc. It also helps Cotton Incorporated to identify the importance of fiber in age, gender and life stage.

One important finding from the Lifestyle Monitor program is the role of cotton and fabrics during "trigger events" in a person's life. This refers to a series of important events in peoples' lives, such as moving away from home for the first time, doing that first load of laundry, getting married and having children.

"These different stages in a consumer's life are very significant points where they turn up or turn down the importance of fiber," says Messura.

Cotton Incorporated used the data from the Lifestyle Monitor to determine the target audience of the new commercials, which are women age 18 to 32. "Consumers in the late teens, primarily female consumers, are at a good point to hear the fabric message," Messura says. He supports this with data confirming that female consumers purchase more than 80 percent of clothing and over 90 percent of home products.


Though their advertising is targeted to younger women, Cotton Incorporated continues to offer a variety of services that hit all points of the "industry pipeline," which includes cotton producers, cotton and fabric manufacturers and mills, retailers, and consumers. Messura says a push-pull marketing strategy is used in an "all inclusive marketing effort."

An example of how Cotton Incorporated is pushing demand through the pipeline is the Textile Designers Awards that are given to manufacturers who create new or innovative uses for cotton. This industry recognition stimulates the use of cotton and introduces new cotton ideas into the marketplace.

On the opposite end of the line is the consumer. Educational programs, in-store promotions and placement of the seal of cotton in store circulars and catalogs are a few ways that Cotton Incorporated is increasing demand for cotton apparel and home fabric products. AM

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