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Lucky Brand's Michael Griffin on Trying to Be Known for More Than Denim

Zimmerman Brought on to Help With Digital Advertising, Social Media and PR

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Lucky Brand's online magazine Clover.
Lucky Brand's online magazine Clover.

Los Angeles-based retailer Lucky Brand Jeans has named Omnicom's Zimmerman to aid its effort to become a multi-billion-dollar brand known for more than denim.

The agency selection comes more than six months after private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners bought the mid-priced apparel brand from Fifth & Pacific Companies for about $225 million. Lucky has since moved marketing under the remit of Exec VP-Product Director Michael Griffin, an attempt to better align its promotional materials and the creative aspect of its product, according to Mr. Griffin.

The next step is to move to digital advocacy and less print advertising with the help of its in-house creative team and Zimmerman, which it hired to support digital advertising, social media and PR.

We asked Mr. Griffin about the agency hiring process, retail outlet and product category expansion plans, as well as the new tagline and digital strategy. Our conversation has been lightly edited.

Advertising Age: What are the biggest things you're looking to change about your marketing approach?

Michael Griffin: In the past we were primarily focused on the print magazine, although it's one of the components of our fall campaign, it's only one. We're definitely spending more on digital and social than we have in the past. A big thing our new CEO and chairman talks about is the importance in marketing of advocacy as well as advertising. We want a more grassroots approach versus just splashy print ads in a magazine, although we will do some of that. We want to find influential people who love the brand and talk about brand.

Ad Age: Tell me about the actual campaign and digital strategy going forward.

Mr. Griffin: Part of this creative plan from our in-house team was to find 100 people who aren't only models or actors and show them in the clothes in more authentic, real way. We want to partner and collaborate with bloggers and influencers that have reach. We have a new tagline: "Why fit in? You were made to stand out." The idea behind that is the Lucky customer always an individual that uses clothes to express individuality.

Ad Age: How do changes in marketing reflect what you're doing differently from a product standpoint?

Mr. Griffin: We really think Lucky has the potential to be a multi-billion-dollar brand. One thing that can help us grow is to broaden our versatility a little bit. Lucky has been known mostly as a very casual denim brand and that will always be part of our DNA. We'll try to broaden our reach. Lucky can participate in everything from active wear to intimates on the most casual end of the spectrum to more dressy wear-to-work and higher-end.

Ad Age: How much of this product diversification is due to a bigger marketplace trends?

Mr. Griffin: We are going through a macro downtrend in denim. It hasn't affected us as much as other people based on our positioning. Others are getting squeezed more. We've done a lot with innovation in denim to offset it.

Ad Age: Where does marketing come into your retail and e-tail expansion plans?

Mr. Griffin: One of the things we're trying to do is give the stores the opportunity and tools to sell a broader assortment. With e-commerce, the customer transacting from home represents our biggest growth percentage increases. We relaunched our site last year. We're looking over the next few months at making creative enhancements and adding more content on it.

There's a section of the site where we upload images of people wearing our clothes, from Instagram, Facebook or wherever. Consumers can click on the image and it'll go to a product page where they can purchase. Zimmerman will be helping with generating digital traffic to the site.

Ad Age: How did you go about the agency search? What did you see in Zimmerman?

Mr. Griffin: There's some sort of initial discovery of who do we think would be the right people for us. We narrowed a list to four to five. Then we gave them all the creative idea and had an internal deck on what we wanted to say for fall and holiday, but not necessarily how we wanted to deliver it. Each came back and presented a plan. Zimmerman presented ideas around three different social campaigns, which were very cool. We didn't want a traditional media campaign. People are responding less and less to that.

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