A few years back, I was really into Burberry. It was my brand of choice. I loved the plaid so much. To me, it represented British elegance. It was classic, timeless, and refined. In 2009, Burberry started a new ad campaign featuring Emma Watson, Tom Hughes, Douglas Booth, Charlie France, Nick Wilson and Tom Guinness. Post Harry Potter and pre-pixie haircut–at 19, Emma Watson looked her best. This ad campaign was so successful that Burberry used Emma as their spokesperson for several more campaigns for other seasons and product lines (Brit, Sport, London and Prorsum). The ads feature brooding teens, who look as though they are on holiday from prep school. The Brit line is casual—it is the look that the kids sport on the weekends. The Sport look is the skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps look. The London line is polished—these are the clothes that the kids wear to school or on a night out on the town. The Prorsum line is more formal—for prep school special events or evening galas. These ads made being British and preppy simultaneously cool. However, more importantly, these ads made Burberry young again. Burberry was founded in 1856 as an outdoor attire company. Over time, Burberry expanded to menswear, womenswear, coats, dresses, shoes, accessories, bags, scarves, beauty and fragrances. Although Burberry has certainly made a name for itself, in the current British scene, Burberry needs to compete with Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and more recently–Ted Baker.
For a company that has been around for 156 years, Burberry needs to constantly find ways to appeal to new and young clientele. These 2009/2010 ads featuring Emma and friends, were genius because they made Burberry look stylish, classic, elite, affluent, and most importantly… fresh. In 2010, Burberry was everywhere. These ads were on billboards, magazine pages, and storefronts. People were wearing Burberry on everything from ballet flats to cellphone cases. What happened after that? Burberry dropped Emma Watson and picked up Kate Moss. Yes, Kate Moss… Kate Moss who has been around FOREVER. Kate Moss, who has been the spokesperson for Chanel, Dior, and Rimmel. Kate Moss, nothing fresh there. The only thing that saved Burberry in 2011 was their expansion into China, where wealthy Chinese consumers are some of the biggest buyers of expensive handbags and clothes in Europe’s capital cities. In 2012, Burberry continued to expand in Asian markets and also began expanding into Latino markets in South America. The company also shifted focus to their menswear lines to attract more male customers. However, sales began to slow down in China and Burberry saw a decline in revenue as shares dropped. Low revenues were not the end of troubles for Burberry in 2012. The 156 year-old-company threatened to walk away from a near 20-year partnership with Interparfums, the French company that produces its fragrance and cosmetics, unless it can agree on better terms.
I certainly hope that Burberry takes heed and recovers. It will be winter soon and a Haymarket Scarf would look great with my new wool coat… Christopher Bailey, please bring Emma back!