Debenhams focuses on 200-year anniversary as it ramps up marketing spend

Debenhams is to celebrate its 200-year anniversary with a unique collection of limited-edition products as it continues efforts to improve brand perceptions.

The bespoke line will be created by Debenhams’ designers especially for the event, with the retailer also planning a big revamp of its Oxford Street store.

The move comes as Debenhams doubles its marketing spend year on year for the autumn 2013 season with a new ad campaign (above) built around it’s ‘Life Made Fabulous’ tagline. Already showing on TV, the ads take a more cinematic approach, featuring a soundtrack by Sony Music artist Foxes and featuring clothes from designers like Preen, Henry Holland and Jasper Conran.

The campaign is spread across print, digital, email and social. And for the first time the company will employ in-store augmented reality that will enable customers to hold a phone up to promotional material and view videos of new products.

Debenhams marketing director Richard Cristofoli tells Marketing Week: “It’s a completely multimedia campaign. The most important thing for us is that every format is reinforcing the other and amplifying it across all media.

“The old days of thinking traditional advertising is for in-store support and new media means online sales are gone. Those lines are totally blurred.”

Cristofoli claims the increase in marketing spend comes off the back of growing sales and improved consumer perceptions of the brand. Since it launched ‘Life Made Fabulous’ two years ago, he says the firm has monitored “statistically significant” improvements in areas like value, design, newness and exclusivity, though wouldn’t be drawn on exact figures.

The firm will be looking to translate that into its financial performance. Like-for-like sales were flat in the 16 weeks to June 22 as the cold spring caused a drop in consumer spending, although expectations for pre-tax profits remain in-line with the markets at £153m.

Debenhams is now relying on the transformation of its Oxford Street store into a global flagship and its new marketing campaign to boost sales in the run-up to Christmas as tough trading conditions continue.

“The market remains very challenging and every retailer needs to be on top of its game going through this year.”

Timeline: Debenhams

Debenhams is created after founder William Debenhams joins the Thomas Clark store at Wigmore Street, London and changes its corporate name to Clark and Debenham.

The business is incorporated as Debenhams Limited.

Debenhams makes its first department store purchase, buying Marshall & Snelgrove at Oxford Street, London.

Company first lists on the London Stock Exchange.

Burton Group (now known as Arcadia) buys Debenhams.

Debenhams spins out from the Burton Group and again lists on the London Stock Exchange.

Debenhams launches new ad campaign with tagline ‘Life Made Fabulous’

Debenhams makes big marketing push to celebrate 200-year anniversary and plans transformation of Oxford Street store into global flagship.



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