But as savvy as Mr. Bailey is in the marketing world, he has no
formal marketing training -- his background is a creative one.
After being raised in a working-class household in Yorkshire,
England, he earned a degree from the Royal College of Art. He got
his start with Donna Karan and then became a senior designer of
women's wear at Gucci. He joined Burberry as creative director in
2001. "[Marketing is ]
something that I feel is very instinctive," he said. "I like to
dream, and I think that 's all marketing is . I don't like
traditional marketing, necessarily. We've moved on quite a lot, and
I think none of us like to feel marketed to."
Mr. Bailey, who was dressed head-to-toe in Burberry, refers to
the fashion empire as an "old-young company. ... It's 156 years
old, but it's a very young team, so digital is just part of our
lives. ... It just felt counterintuitive to not do digital."
Important in Mr. Bailey's strategy is the melding of the digital
and physical worlds. "[Digital] is something we use to bridge all
our different worlds," he said.
That dedication to digital has helped Burberry become a truly
global brand with a consistent message communicated around the
world. "When you're dealing with digital technology, that doesn't
have boundaries. And I think the world shouldn't necessarily have
boundaries. The way we approach it is having our consistent point
of view," Mr. Bailey said. "It's not only the physical countries
you can talk about now. ... Those boundaries have become almost
Burberry only started getting attention for its digital efforts
in the past few years. In 2009, it was one of the first fashion
houses to live-stream a runway show. It's also been known to tweet
images of a new collection before a show, effectively giving its
Twitter followers a glance at the line before front-row celebrities
and high-powered editors get one. The commitment to social media
has altered the company, particularly its production schedule.
Burberry is one of the only brands that allows consumers to buy
clothes immediately after models walk down the runway in them.
Still, at the same time Burberry is becoming an interesting
digital player, it has become even more relevant and exciting as a
fashion player. Burberry had come to be seen as a stodgy, tired
brand that put its signature checkered print on far too many items.
But the brand has seen a turnaround in perception and has been
appealing to a wider and younger audience.
"The strategy has always been [to] have a point of view, be true
to ourselves and be innovative. We've always said we're not really
following in anyone else's tracks," Mr. Bailey said.
Mr. Bailey's creative background also comes into play. It's
something he says has allowed "flexibility, an open mind. It means
that I try to inspire the teams to dream and stay open-minded and
just keep moving forward. Because I think sometimes we can become
formulaic, and I think the world is moving very fast and people can
get lazy and complacent. And I can't bear complacency. ... I like
to move things on."