New approach for Kate Spade

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Kate and Andy Spade, co-owners of accessories maker Kate Spade, have a story to tell about their brand. This year's fall ad campaign to promote its bags, sunglasses, shoes and luggage falls squarely on the fictional Lawrence family, whose tale the couple hopes resonates with its target audience.

In lieu of a traditional one- or two-page color ads of product shots, Andy Spade, the company's president and creative director, and colleague Julia Leach, senior VP-director of creative services, opted to emphasize the Kate Spade brand and to develop its image through narrative. September issues of Fairchild Publications' W and Conde Nast Publications' Vogue and Vanity Fair will include multipage advertising inserts that tell the story of Tennessee Lawrence, a 26-year-old woman who lives in New York City, and the weekend she spends with her family, visiting from suburban Chicago.

"We do compete with big brands but in our heart, the company is still very much a creation of Kate's and Andy's vision," said Ms. Leach, who, like Andy Spade, worked in the creative department at Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, before joining Kate Spade. "The idea is not to just push the products, but to draw people in a bit more."

The company would not disclose the amount of the media buy. The campaign also includes an eight-minute film "that's not about a big plot or dramatic tensions," Ms. Leach said, "but it celebrates the family's visit to New York." Current plans for the film are to show it to Kate Spade business partners, but the company is exploring additional media possibilities.

a certain tone

To capture the proper moments and emotions, the Kate Spade creative team hired fine-art photographer Larry Sultan, whose work is collected in a book, "Pictures from Home." Karen Patch, the wardrobe designer who clothed actors in "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "Rushmore," both films directed by Wes Anderson, set a certain tone and feel in choosing apparel and accessories for each of the ad's characters.

"We're interested in promoting human connections with candor and confidence," Mr. Spade said. "Personal style plays a role in our campaigns, but always as a backdrop for honest, universally appreciated moments."

Branding consultant Robert Kahn of WPP Group's Enterprise IG is in favor of the approach. "It creates an emotional connection with the target segment. The young, single woman can relate to having her parents come to the big city for a visit and wanting to look her best."

In nine years, the duo has built a company from zero revenue, with offices located in their New York City apartment to one with sales of $70 million and seven stores.

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