“In 60 years, when the scars have become lessons and the risks have become rewards, these are the images that will surface. These are the days you’ll remember. This is the time.”
Those are the tag lines that end Abercrombie & Fitch Co.’s new integrated advertising campaign, “This Is the Time.” The campaign includes a commercial for the brand, representing its first in more than a decade. The company is hoping the latest campaign attempt — the commercial begins with talk about being free to “screw up, learn by doing…to find what’s next, to find yourself” — will resonate with consumers between ages the ages of 21 and 24, who will see the connection between exploring one’s self with the brand’s history “as the outfitter of adventure.”
The campaign was developed by the company, with its agency partners The Richards Group and PMG.
But will this one resonate with its targeted audience?
A&F is in the midst of turning around the Abercrombie brand, but it finds itself in a changing retail landscape where formerly hot brands need to figure out better ways to resonate with their customer base, whether that’s messaging, imagery or service. In the case of Abercrombie, new brands such as Vineyard Vines and Supreme — it recently received a $500 million investment from private equity firm Carlyle Group — have captured more of the market share.
And detractors point to the company’s decision not to sell earlier this year as a failed attempt due to the company not getting the high valuation it was likely seeking. In fairness to Abercrombie, the company has said all along it felt it has the right plan in place to turn around its fortunes. Following last year’s failed advertising campaign, Abercrombie needs a win to put off those naysayers.
The one-minute commercial — already on YouTube, with a 30-second version on Instagram — contains various advertising and marketing components that will be rolled out over the next few months. The campaign marks the start of the 2017 holiday season, and the media blitz will include a heavy weighting toward digital engagement, particularly via mobile media. And while it will include placements in traditional media such as linear TV, what’s different is the live experiential component planned at music festivals and platforms such as Pandora and Spotify. The company is also planning on showing the ad in movie theaters in 35 college towns.
Fran Horowitz, chief executive officer of the company, said on the integration of different platforms, “We did a commercial for the first time in over 10 years and it’s a good example of [us] being closer to the consumer. We are putting it in theaters because the consumer overindexes in movie theaters — it is the one time where they put their phone down.”
Working the music platforms and having a presence at live events is about “where the consumers are and interfacing with them at the right place at the right time,” according to the ceo. The company will also work with local ambassadors in the cities it is geo-targeting, as well as social media influencers to home in on the message of “outfitting these consumers for their everyday adventures,” Horowitz said. The company is also planning on a sweeps connected to a travel opportunity that will be made available to its A&F Club members, the brand’s loyalty program.
What is also different this time is how the company zeroed in on learnings from last year.
“We have spent an additional year, a lot of time with the consumer, getting close to who they are,” she said.
Horowitz said some of the learnings have also been from its earlier experience re-branding Hollister, Abercrombie’s younger sibling, which the company began first and is much further along in the turnaround process.
Will Smith, chief marketing officer, said, “Over the past year, we’ve learned from conversations and interactions with millions of our customers; we understand how, when and where they want to engage and what they expect from us as a brand.” He said the insight shaped the new campaign, which speaks to the “ important journey our customers are on, as well as the one we are on as a brand.”