Fashion Week Attendees Approve of McDonald's Lounge, Stress Importance of Sponsorships

By Lauren Matison February 18, 2009, 10:15 AM EST

The promotion of Barbie's 50th anniversary included a large display around the fountain in the center of the tent lobby.

Photo: BizBash

Fashion Week is well under way, and despite the economic crisis crippling many corporations, IMG's tents at Bryant Park are packed with booths and promotions from various companies. Ranging from McDonald's first appearance to the return of car displays from Mercedes-Benz and a coat check booth by Chambord, the in-tent sponsorships serve to attract the attention of designers and fashion editors, who mostly agree that the branding is keeping the biennial event alive. Here's what they had to say when we asked for their take on all the marketing gimmicks.

“I actually love this little McCafé booth. I'm here working on a story, and I think I'm going to camp out here all week. I rarely have coffee, but I came in and the cappuccino was very good. Will it bring me to McDonald's? I don't know, maybe if I pass by one. At Fashion Week this year, you've got lots of sponsors, and it seems to get bigger and bigger every season.”
—Kelly Carter, reporter, People

“I think it's great that this is happening and that this many sponsors are coming to be a part of it. Whatever it took IMG to get them here, thank God, because we need this to boost the economy and get us back on track. As for the McCafé, I don't drink coffee, but if I did, I would be in here drinking my McCoffee and not eating meals every day.”
—Kelly Will, Six and the City columnist, Page Six magazine


“We just came from the W lounge, and from that vantage point, you can't really tell the economy is suffering. It's the same kind of elaborate display that you expect from that venue. I think Fashion Week and the sponsors are good for the economy, because if people continue to fear spending money that they have, it's just going to perpetuate this continuous downfall. I'm a fan of any huge corporation that takes a step forward to rebrand themselves. I say kudos to McDonald's for using this as their platform. What better way to get in here, hobnobbing with tastemakers and fashion people? I think it's still tested to be seen whether it's actually going to take off, but the booth looks amazing.”
—Gregory Littley, creative consultant/owner, The Drop Lab

“I think the sponsorships turned out well. We've got a lot of nice things going on. No favorite booth yet, but I'm pleased with the way everything looks. I think Barbie looks like a lot of fun in the fountain. The economy … oh, ad nauseum. It's kind of enough already, because we all know that it's an issue, but we want to focus on all the creative things going on … this is not a creativity crunch.”
—Fern Mallis, senior vice president, IMG Fashion

“Normally, when I deal with Fashion Week in Milan, Paris, and London, I don't see too many sponsorships. The brands are big enough they have enough funding and capital, and it's their own PR departments that fuel Fashion Week. In terms of New York, you have a lot more visual branding and sponsorship. But I think it's good that IMG and Mercedes come in to pump some money into it, because New York is a few years behind those other cities in terms of fashion weeks. Once the New York Fashion Week and other U.S. city fashion weeks mature, you'll see the sponsors taking more of a backseat. I think they're a bit of a necessity at the moment. But if we're talking about reactions to branding here, I was surprised to see designer Yigal Azrouël's press shots backstage being taken in front of eBay signs and not the Yigal brand.”
—Marshall Winters, luxury goods and brand building consultant

“I think the Barbies are great and give a cute little theme. And I like the pink apples—it’s very New York. I like the McCafé with the free coffee; that’s very good. Caffeine—you need it. I’ll be going there instead of the more expensive Starbucks.”
—Danny Karan, entertainment editor, Metro Velvet

“There is such a fantastic vibe going on in the tents … I saw this fabulous Barbie display when I walked into the lobby. It is an eye-opening, in-your-face, very powerful thing to look at, and I thought it was a really clever way to celebrate her turning 50. I went to the McCafé, which I thought was terrific. It was packed, but very well organized. They had a greeter at the door, a very charming man. And the girls all had smiles on their faces. You didn’t feel like you were in a typical McDonald's—it was a very nice atmosphere. I must say that the feeling in the tent was a little different this year; even though you have Mercedes and Chambord, it wasn’t like this high-level luxury lobby. Which is okay, because this is the truth of what’s happening in our world today. The tone absolutely works, whether it happened to be planned that way, or it was by chance.”
—Irenka Jakubiak, editorial fashion director, Accessories magazine

“The Barbie display is interesting. It caught me off guard at first—totally not what I expected to be the center installation here. It's surprising that there are no noticeable black Barbies or Asian Barbies.”
Anonymous, student, Fashion Institute of Technology

“I’ve been reading a lot of publications that are joking about McDonald's being here. I think it’s interesting. It’s all about the economy, and you got to do what you got to do. Don’t get me wrong—McDonald's is not the most glamorous or the most healthy, but in these times I think you have to learn to get money where you can. It’s just a lesson for everyone in the fashion industry.”
—Earlecia Gibb, celebrity fashion stylist and contributing editor, Ammo magazine

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