NEW YORK — The Sak has a few blonde chicks in its new advertising campaign, but they’re not exactly models.
The San Francisco-based handbag company, known for its signature Tightweave and crocheted satchels, has partnered with Sloane Tanen, an artist and author whose work features witty vignettes involving fuzzy toy chicks. They have created a series of images that promote The Sak’s key spring looks.
The ads, which will bow in March in magazines such as In Style, Glamour, Lucky, Teen Vogue and Marie Claire, will consist of four different vignettes, among them a chick named Mona who dyed her hair turquoise to match her new The Sak handbag and another chick, Amy, who sits in a therapist’s chair wondering if the doctor has noticed her new The Sak purse.
“When the company started 16 years ago, we always sought to create out-of-the-box campaigns,” said Mark Talucci, co-founder and chief executive officer of The Sak, recalling an ad showing a woman’s bare back with a handbag hanging over it. “At some point, however, we took a left turn and became like everybody else. So I put a challenge out to our in-house marketing team to try to get back to where we were before. The market is so competitive and we don’t want to appear just like a commodity. We want to raise the bar to show that we are innovative and to create more of a dialogue with our customers about who we are.”
Although Talucci wouldn’t reveal sales or profits for the privately held company, he said 2005 was a record year, with The Sak reporting a 45 percent jump in volume.
“We think the timing couldn’t be more right to come out with something a little more gutsy,” he said.
Arianna Brooke, vice president of marketing at The Sak, who helped develop the concept for the campaign, said the management team was skeptical when she first proposed spending the annual $1.5 million to $2 million ad budget on such a different approach. While she said it is difficult to gauge how consumers will respond, the company will have information about Tanen on its Web site and plans to use focus groups to get feedback.
“I’m definitely interested in seeing the reaction,” Brooke said. “Regardless of how the ads do, however, I think one thing we will take forward with this is our commitment to creating distinctive advertising. This is an industry that is based on business, but it’s also creative, and sometimes you have to go with your gut feelings on what works and what doesn’t.”