Tech company Lenovo collaborated with Australian design icon Toni Maticevski at this week’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to create a new fusion of fashion and technology.

The collaboration with Australian fashion designer Toni Maticevski was the latest activation in a social-led marketing program that started in August 2014. And it’s so far engaged a number of trend influencers, as well as global Lenovo product engineer, technology venture capitalist and Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher punking customers at JB HiFi’s central-Sydney store.

In what’s believed to be a world-first, a new collection by a major fashion designer incorporated interactive consumer technology on the runway, using Lenovo’s Yoga Tablet 2 Pro devices, as an inherent, tightly integrated, personalised element within Toni Maticevski’s new Fall 15 collection.

Maticevski and Lenovo also added a technology experience to the show’s front-row reviewers and opinion-formers, presenting each with a personalised Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro – all 100 of them.

Social-led collaboration carves out a new niche

The collaboration was a true one, eschewing the older mind-set of a sponsored, commercial relationship. It was set up and facilitated by specialist fashion blog, owned and published by Thom Wilton and Lisa Teh, working with Lenovo’s social and analytics company DIGIVIZER.

The concept was to have technology integrated as an inherent part of the collection, around the way people identify technology with their sense of self. The show was the realisation of Maticevski’s vision and was an outcome of exploring possibilities with Couturing who were filming their reality web series capturing the lead up to Australian Fashion Week. In Lenovo, he found the technology partner prepared to step up to the challenge. The concept worked because it was authentic, and born of the designer himself. As Toni Maticevski himself said, “I’m excited to play with the concept of integrating technical capabilities into the concept of the show. It’s something that I have never done before – and it’s pretty amazing to have the chance to do it.”

But how did the concept deliver? And where did it come from?

Data beating assumptions

What underpins Lenovo’s social-led program is hard data: the analysis of the real-time radar signals sent out by many thousands of users, consumers and influencers through the social web. It was this analysis, undertaken by DIGIVIZER for Lenovo, that confirmed that millennials are indeed a social target market sector with some highly engaged trendsetter networks specifically interested in fashion, music, lifestyle, food, business, photography, travel, art and gaming.

These data and insights beat assumptions, focus groups and other traditional marketing processes on two key counts: they come from the thousands of individuals, each expressing an opinion, a preference or a desire, and they engage in what matters to them in real-time.

As Emma Lo Russo, DIGIVIZER CEO, points out, “Lenovo understand that engagement with consumers must be relevant and authentic. And you can only deliver these by knowing the individuals you are engaging with, be where they are, deliver what they care about, support what they talk about, and what they are passionate about. The days of marketing by paid or one-way brute force are over.”

For Lenovo itself, the switch to data-based social campaigns has made a marked difference to its brand awareness, and to sales. Since January alone, exposure for Lenovo to its brand and products in these key market segments has seen all channels rise with over 2,000% growth in just one social channel, YouTube. Lenovo has over 10% of branded consumer technology discussions, and in the consumer category – where this fashion collaboration sits – Lenovo now wins the branded share of voice in lifestyle and desire.

Sara Palmieri, Lenovo Head of Marketing ANZ, comments: “Look around you: people don’t put their technology in their bags or pockets. They incorporate and adapt their choice of technology to themselves everywhere they go, in everything they do, in everything they identify with. Their devices are part of who they are. At Lenovo we see technology being as much about fashion, lifestyle, food and more, on our customers personal terms, not ours, as it is about the features of our products. Brand challengers such as Lenovo have to reinvent how we make technology relevant to consumers. That’s why this collaboration with fashion icon Toni Maticevski, and fashion influencers Lisa Teh and Thom Whilton for Couturing, fusing technology and fashion, is so exciting for Lenovo.”

The success of the campaign serves notice: organic collaboration, when part of a social-led activation campaign, underpinned with a foundation built on real-time data, will deliver marked improvements in marketing return on investment, whether defined as broad market and brand awareness, or sales.

To see more on this collaboration visit www.lenovoanz/lenovostyle.

(Disclosure: Lenovo is a DIGIVIZER client.)