On September 7, during the height of New York Fashion Week, the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) will introduce orthodontics to the world of fashion. There, in New York City’s Columbus Circle, the AAO will team up with celebrity fashion expert Tai Beauchamp, “Style Ambassador” for InStyle magazine, as well as Sephora, The Art of Shaving, Align Technology Inc, and Shock Doctor, to hold its first pop-up event.

The event will launch the organization’s new tagline: Your Smile is Your Best Fashion Accessory.

Free and open to the public, the pop-up event will feature a Q&A with Beauchamp where guests can ask their beauty and fashion questions while sipping on “SmileTini’s” and “Grin & Tonics.” In addition, representatives from Sephora will provide advice on how to select the perfect lipstick shade to complement guests’ teeth, and The Art of Shaving will offer tips on how to get the perfect shave. On the orthodontic side, a team of orthodontists will be on hand to offer guests a personal smile evaluation and the opportunity to check out an image of their potential post-treatment smile with a free computer imaging session. Guests will leave with swag bags filled with goodies from the event’s partners.

As AAO President DeWayne B. McCamish, DDS, MS, puts it, “We want to help our guests visualize how achieving a healthy, beautiful smile is a lifelong fashion accessory which will always be on trend.”

On Trend

The tagline, Your Smile is Your Best Fashion Accessory, is definitely a trendy way to get people to think about their smiles, but as orthodontic consultant LeeAnn Peniche, president and founder of Peniche & Associates, puts it, “It opens the door to have the conversation [about how to get that smile].”

Memphis-based orthodontist Kyle Fagala, DDS, MS, of Saddle Creek Orthodontics, agrees. “You don’t go to a dinner party and with every conversation start talking about braces and straight teeth. You talk about whatever it is that interests that person. If you can talk on a topic that’s really interesting to them, they’ll love you. From there, once they find out you’re an orthodontist, they’ll say, ‘Hey! I want to go to your office and get straight teeth.’ To me, that’s a more natural way of approaching it.

“Generally speaking, as orthodontists, we think we can only talk about the nuts and bolts of orthodontics. But what’s cool about this concept is we are finding [topics] people are already talking about and then talking about those things as they relate to orthodontics—instead of trying to make orthodontics fit every conversation,” Fagala says.

The pop-up event itself also allows the AAO the opportunity to connect with new media channels and thus a larger audience. “These pop-up events can be very cool,” says John D. Callahan, DDS, MS, an orthodontist with offices in Fayetteville, Fulton, and North Syracuse, NY, and a member of the AAO Board of Trustees. “I’m a big believer that you have to go outside what has historically been the normal boundaries to be able to reach out to the public. We have to be able to create touch points with the public and the consumer where we have never done before, and I think this is a tremendous event to do that with.” Moreover, he believes it is an opportunity for the AAO to gain media coverage from print magazines like Cosmopolitan and Self that reach millions of teens, young professionals, and moms.

“What that’s going to do, is it’s going to put our message out front in a very large way,” Callahan says. “The bottom line here is good press is always good for the practice. It makes people think more and more that this is something they may want to do. And that’s really what this is. It’s more about creating an awareness.”

Once consumers start thinking about wanting to improve their best fashion accessory, then it’s up to the individual practitioner to ensure their practice is the one the consumer chooses. And there’s no better way to do that than to piggyback on the event and tagline.

But let’s pause for a moment, because there’s a question you need to ask yourself before you get started: Does this tagline fit my practice’s style and mine? If the answer is yes, then Peniche advises orthodontists to tie the tagline into every marketing piece they do—everything from welcome packets to their website. “If I was that really hip doctor and ‘fashion accessory’ falls into my style, then I would piggyback on [the tagline] because it’s great.”

And if you’re going to embrace the tagline and make it work for your practice, then Peniche advises that you jump on board quickly, because there is nothing preventing a general dentist from piggybacking on the concept as well. “It’s open to the public. Is there anything that’s going to keep a [general dentist] from using that tagline or something close to it?” Peniche points out. “It’s going to be a race for the tagline. So go for it fast. If it goes national and it catches on, then you want to be the one that’s using the tagline before the general dentist down the street.” Or, for that matter, the other orthodontist down the street.


Working It

So what’s a practice to do to make this campaign work for them?

For Callahan, who will be participating in the event, that means taking a ton of pictures during the event and sharing them on his practice’s social media channels. But for orthodontists who aren’t going to be in New York City on the day, Fagala has an idea.

“Set up a step-and-repeat banner,” he says. A mainstay of red carpets and Fashion Week press lines, these banners feature the logos of event sponsors—in this case your practice and local shops asked to sponsor the cost of the banner or to donate gift cards for patients. The activity, which can be run in the weeks around New York Fashion Week, offers patients an opportunity to feel like they are walking the red carpet—even if it is in your reception area.

But the idea of a smile as a fashion accessory is an evergreen one; and orthodontists should not feel like they can’t capitalize on this campaign throughout the year. In fact, there are plenty of opportunities.

If your town has its own fashion week, Fagala suggests getting involved. “I think Memphis fashion week is in March,” he says, adding that associating with these kinds of activities, and the fashion world in general, marks your practice as the “cool place” that is doing things differently.

In addition, the campaign lends itself well to a practice’s social media efforts, says Fagala, who is the founder of his own digital marketing and social media company, Neon Canvas. A simple idea: blog posts like “Five Reasons Your Smile is a Fashion Accessory” or “The One Fashion Accessory That is Always in Style…”. Or, if you have a staff member who is a bit of a fashionista, have her take over the practice’s Instagram or Snapchat accounts and post fashion tips for the day. Fagala’s favorite idea, however, is a fashion selfie contest.

#OOTD—or for those who don’t speak hashtag: outfit of the day—is one of the most popular hashtags on Instagram, and Fagala recommends tapping into that popularity. Practices can ask patients to share their best outfit and instruct them to include information on where they got their shirt, skirt, shoes, and, most importantly, their smile, tagging the practice. “They’re doing the outfit of the day, but the smile is part of that,” he says.

Taking the idea further, Fagala suggests practices partner with local fashion bloggers who will then judge those submissions. Winners will receive gift certificates to a local boutique. The participating bloggers are likely to blog about their participation in the contest and partnership with the practice, thus exposing the practice to the bloggers’ audience.

And for practices up for a larger undertaking, there’s always partnering with local boutiques, fashion bloggers, or fashion designers to put on a fashion show in which your patients could participate. As Fagala points out, “It’s all about tying fashion to orthodontics.”

Peniche advises practices to take advantage of the collateral material the AAO will make available to members, whether it’s videos, print work, or pre-prepared social media posts. In fact, the AAO has released a mobile app ahead of the pop-up event that will showcase live snippets of the festivities, plus fashion and grooming tips, as well as tips and tricks on how to create and maintain a healthy, beautiful smile. During the event, users can submit questions to the experts, as well as event sponsors/presenters, through a Q&A button on the app. The app also will allow users to monitor the event’s social media posts. The app includes a link to Find an Orthodontist on the AAO’s consumer website, mylifemysmile.org.

“[The AAO] is putting millions of dollars behind it and it’s really going to be out there a lot. You can take that material and spin it,” says Peniche.

Just remember to personalize it.

“The AAO—for an organization as big as this, there is no way they can create content that you can copy and paste and get a really great response to it,” says Fagala. “A lot of legwork has been done. They’ve put hours and hours into it. You can go take 45 minutes and come up with a few good ideas. Sit down with your team and you’ll come up with some good stuff. And then you have to do it.” OP