Michael C. Fina

545 Fifth Ave., New York City

The idea for Michael C. Fina’s “Milestone” windows came, as many great ideas do, in the eleventh hour. With a pitch meeting fast approaching, the company’s creative at large, Meredith McBride Kipp—a newlywed herself, with just-engaged friends all around her—whipped up a wedding proposal for the ages: Tell your love story in our Fifth Avenue windows. MCF would pull out all the social-media stops to solicit entries, and the four winning couples’ stories would be displayed in the store’s massive midtown Manhattan windows. Not surprisingly, the powers that be gave it their blessing and said “I do.”

Competitive Edge

The pool wasn’t limited to Fina customers, “but we didn’t want to be advertising our competitors,” says Teegan Conti, MCF’s PR and special-events coordinator, “so we opened it to anyone who had a ring we sold in our store. And the same with our registry—if they had bought a designer we carry in our registry.” The four winning couples have, Conti says, “four pretty distinct love stories.” Hence, the window titles: Bliss in Brooklyn, Magic in Montenegro, A Rooftop Romance, Paradise in Palm Beach. Couture designer Randi Rahm contributed dresses “that fit the style of each couple,” and the displays were filled out with Fina-supplied theme-appropriate china, stemware, and accessories. Says McBride Kipp: “It really becomes a living editorial. It feels like a 3-D magazine piece.”

Viral Marketing Madness

For all you would-be marketing gurus out there, Conti explains how MCF spread the word about the contest: “We had the sales associates reach out to the customers—we had a ton of couples write in with positive feedback, send in their photos anyway just because they built a relationship with the sales associate and consider them as a friend. We built a custom microsite, milestones.michaelcfina.com, and put a banner on our website directing people there. We did an e-mail blast. Then as soon as someone entered, we’d make sure we commented on the post—we friended them on Facebook. Every day we did an ‘entry of the day.’ We’d go into Facebook, post the photo, tag the person.”

From the Winners’ Circle

“Bliss in Brooklyn” couple Tanya Li Roth and Geoff Roth—who bought their rings from MCF—entered because, Tanya says, “since we are newlyweds, we have gotten used to sharing our ‘love story’ with family and friends anyway.” (The pair married on March 6 near their families in Sarasota, Fla.) They enlisted their photographer pal Siobhan Harris to shoot engagement pics—“we knew we could be our silly mushy selves around her and not be too self-conscious,” says Tanya. Seeing herself in a store window is “a bit surreal,” she admits—“The photos are huge!”—but “it seems like one of those only-in-New-York experiences, which I love. And Geoff usually shies away from too much attention, but I think he was secretly excited about it.”