Why Forever 21’s 'Thread Screen’ is One of the Coolest Marketing Campaigns Ever

20th Oct

Fast fashion brand Forever 21 recently joined forces with New York-based developer BREAKFAST for its amazing “Thread Screen” campaign – a decidedly non-digital, photo-based marketing initiative that simply took our breath away.


At The Flash Pack, we specialise in all things fun, wild and unexpected – our principal aim is to take the world of stuffy, business-as-usual advertising and turn it completely on its head. But when we stumble across a great example that exhibits our particular flavour of marketing madness, we like to give credit where credit’s due.

Forever 21’s “Thread Screen” campaign shines a light on what’s possible when brands step away from what’s expected and create an experience that’s outside-the-box, unique and perhaps most importantly, real.

#F21ThreadScreen is Stitching Together a Social Community

Forever 21’s Thread Screen is pretty much exactly what the title suggests – only it’s infinitely cooler than the image that’s in your head right now. It uses 6,400 tightly stacked spools of thread (in 36 colour varieties) to paint a living image on a 80x80 resolution screen.

The gargantuan art installation weighs in at over a ton and contains over 200,000 mechanical components – eight times as many as you’d find in a typical car.

When users upload their photos to Instagram using the hashtag #F21ThreadScreen, the images are added to the Thread Screen queue. The colourful, stacked spools then spin into action, reproducing the shared image in stunning, cotton-definition.

According to Linda Chang, Forever 21’s VP of Merchandising, the brand’s focus was to drive social reach. “The Thread Screen will naturally drive awareness,” Chang explained, “but it also shows Forever 21 as a leader in how social networks and technology can be used in completely new ways."

By the end of September, almost 12,000 photos had already been tagged for upload on the Thread Screen.

Each Person who submitted a hashtag and made it on the big screen received a short video of their moment of glory, which they could then share with family and friends.

What makes this one of the best marketing campaigns in recent memory is that the focus was placed on the journey – not just the finished product. Sure, the effect may look “low-res,” but the creative brainpower that went into making this awesome experience possible is enough to make even the most jaded internet troll’s jaw drop an inch or two

The Power of Experience

In terms of shareability, even the best digital marketing campaigns can’t compete with a real-life, tangible experience. Today, consumers use their social channels to broadcast their most extraordinary and remarkable experiences. To that effect, immersive, visceral marketing initiatives like Forever 21’s Thread Screen are essentially just what the doctor ordered.

In fact, a recent study by the Event Marketing Institute found that 93% of consumers feel that real life experiences are more effective than television adverts, and 96% are said they’d be more likely to purchase a product after having their minds blown at a branded event.

If there’s anything to be learned from the Forever 21 Thread Screen campaign, it’s that it pays to be bold.