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Uniqlo Creates a Splash in the Big Apple

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Uniqlo offered discounted down jackets as part of its opening efforts.
Uniqlo offered discounted down jackets as part of its opening efforts. Credit: John Kuczala
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How do you establish yourself as a major retail player in a crowded market like New York? Perhaps you open two mammoth stores one week apart, blanket the city with slick advertising and lure shoppers with hard-to-resist price points. That winning formula helped Japanese retailer Uniqlo elbow itself into a seat at the table when it opened its largest and second-largest locations in the world in Manhattan this fall.

Uniqlo Chairman-CEO Tadashi Yanai
Uniqlo Chairman-CEO Tadashi Yanai

The effort was backed by a massive in-store, print and outdoor campaign featuring New York celebrities such as actress Susan Sarandon, Tumblr founder David Karp and Grammy winner Esperanza Spalding. The splashy effort, done on a project basis with former Wieden executive Todd Waterbury and coupled with promotional $9.90 jeans, drew thousands -- some of whom waited in lines wrapped around the block.

The driving force behind the company's success is Chairman-CEO Tadashi Yanai and his innovative business leadership. "It's definitely a new stage for the Uniqlo brand," Kensuke Suwa, director-global marketing and communications, told Ad Age last month. With its name on everyone's radar and an estimated $12 billion in sales for the year, Uniqlo is basking in the spotlight.