Fashion houses need ad lessons

Your feature “Style Counsel” (MW October 15) highlighted a number of issues that the fashion industry needs to face in order to maximise advertising effectiveness and enable their brands to grow.

In reality the number of consumers that can afford to buy all their clothes from fashion houses are few and far between. Many designers have branched out to broaden previously untouchable images by creating diffusion lines.

An inspired move, but this must be carried through to marketing. Like the new Jaguar S-Type, for example, these ranges bring car badges or clothes labels within easier reach of more customers.

However, fashion houses have not worked out how to develop campaigns that exploit this move without harming the core brand values. Perhaps this is because they do not understand the principles and techniques that are available in any self-respecting agency.

One method is to promote diffusion lines carefully by building on the core brand values through targeted niche advertising and marketing. The industry would benefit from daring to include contact details or, more importantly, below-the-line tactics such as direct response mechanisms to allow relationship building and customer understanding. With the coming of digital TV and ever greater proliferation of media, companies can target their brand message to the desired audience without “contamination”. An in-depth understanding of the customer profile can be matched to the media they consume, down to individual TV programmes or publications.

Fashion designers must learn to trust that agencies can learn and understand the mood and tone of the product in the same way that it does with all the other brands it represents. And with highly targeted campaigns, it is budget well spent. Designers complain that they cannot afford such activities but with Paul Smith and French Connection testing the water with such success, can fashion houses afford not to make it a priority?

How long are we going to have to wait for the rest of the industry to follow suit?

Chris Lovell

Managing director

LVB DraftWorldwide

Cassington

Oxfordshire

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