PENDLETON BUILDS ON ITS ROOTS

Byline: Rusty Williamson

DALLAS — Pendleton, the 137-year-old apparel, blanket and soft home accessories maker, wouldn’t dream of turning away from its image as a quiet purveyor of the rugged-yet-elegant good life in the great Northwest.
But in a fierce retail marketplace driven by megabrands and fast-turn fashions, Pendleton executives have formulated a plan to ensure that the brand doesn’t get overshadowed by the competition.
With its soft woolens, discreet checks and plaids, and luxe interpretations of Americana, the niche brand has cultivated a legion of fans — mostly upscale consumers between the ages of 35 and 54. To enlarge that base, the company, based in Portland, Ore., is rolling out a new marketing and advertising campaign with the tag line, “Pendleton. Good for Life.” The media budget for the year is between $800,000 and $1 million, according to sources.
Developed by Robley Marketing, also based in Portland, the campaign spotlights Pendleton’s deep, rich heritage while letting consumers know about the breadth of its fashion offerings, including a growing emphasis on trends.
The lifestyle campaign also aims to promote Pendleton’s array of product categories — from women’s and men’s fashions to blankets — as a unified brand and not disparate divisions.
New in-store visuals and displays, including a more congruent product labeling system that’s in the works, are designed to integrate a merchandising vision that’s consistent in all Pendleton’s department and specialty store accounts as well as in its own 48 retail units.
“Pendleton is a small company with a niche brand doing business in the midst of a megabrand industry,” said Nancy Hamilton, director of strategic planning at Robley, which landed the Pendleton account last December. “Pendleton doesn’t want to be a megabrand, so we were faced with the question of how to create a campaign that stays true to its niche-brand image and build on its brand equity. We felt that they needed to be tooting their horn more distinctly and succinctly.”
Prior advertising campaigns often were austere and didn’t play up the brand as a lifestyle. Apparel was sometimes photographed in a studio against a plain white background. The ads typically ran in traditional fashion magazines.
For fall 2000, Pendleton is taking a radical departure from such lackluster approaches with a lifestyle campaign photographed on location in California’s lush Napa Valley, including charming street scenes in tiny villages that dot the region.
The fashion focus includes a mix of basics like blazers and skirts and trendier styles like fringed wrap-front skirts and fur and suede-trimmed jackets.
Shot by South African photographer Harry DeZittr, the print campaign lands in August or September in lifestyle magazines, including Martha Stewart Living, Gourmet and The New York Times Sunday Magazine.
Pendleton is a privately held company, still owned by its founding family, the Bishops, of Portland.
“I’m very encouraged about the new approach and bringing all our divisions together under one lifestyle umbrella,” said Mort Bishop 3rd, president.
He represents the fifth generation of the Bishop family to run Pendleton. His ancestors sailed to the U.S. from England in 1863 and traveled west to Oregon, where they set up a woolen knitting mill.