Laura Ashley Integrated Marketing Communications Plan (Class Project)


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This is a speculative campaign for educational purposes only. Created as a coursework for an advertising class. I do not own the rights for the use of Laura Ashley, Inc. for lucrative purposes. No copyright infringement intended.

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Laura Ashley Integrated Marketing Communications Plan (Class Project)

  1. 1. Isaac Consultants, Inc. 11-05-12 Laura Ashley Campaign Plan Proposal Rocio M. Isaac and Jamila Cabahug Isaac Consultants 09-01-14
  2. 2. 2 Table of Contents Content Page 1. Situation Analysis ----------------------------------------------------------------- 3 2. SWOT --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5 3. Key Strategic Campaign Decisions -------------------------------------------- 7 4. Message Strategy ------------------------------------------------------------------ 8 5. Media Plan -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 11 6. Conclusion -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 13
  3. 3. 3 1. Situation Analysis Executive Summary We are pleased to present Laura Ashley, Inc. with our Integrated Marketing Communications Plan (IMC). Thus, Isaac Consultants has developed a plan to increase brand awareness and rebrand its image for Laura Ashley’s clothing line among a specific target audience we found necessary to reach in order retake a target market that has been lost and negatively affected. We have executed extensive research in order to create a successful IMC plan. Background Laura Ashley, Inc. started in London in 1953 and was inspired by Victorian English designs. It was founded by the British designer Laura Mountney who died in 1985. Laura Mountney started her own company by creating headscarves, table mats and napkins from natural fabrics inspired by handicrafts displays at the “Victoria and Albert Museum” in England. Laura wanted to make patchwork out of Victorian prints, but could not find them. Therefore, she came out with the idea of making her own patchwork designs, which did not exist back then. Today, Laura Ashley creates classic designs with a wide variety of home products such as furniture, bedding, accessories and clothing for women and young girls. After many years of successful market share among Europe and the U.S., the company decided to sell all U.S. and Canada stores. This was due to a $48.3 million loss on January 1995 (Lyall, 2007). Consequently, they hired chief executive Anne Iverson, an American specialist. She helped resuscitate the brand image by hiring new designers, amplifying product categories, and investing on new designs and ideas. She successfully repositioned Laura Ashley’s brand image in England. Recently, Laura Ashley and Japanese retailer Uniqlo announced a collaboration combining Laura
  4. 4. 4 Ashley’s style with Uniqlo’s Japanese style. In a magazine article, “Can Laura Ashley be Edgy?”, written by Shahesta Shaily, the collaboration was designed to create a new, contemporary, and fashionable line to appeal to a new market without compromising Laura Ashley’s “heritage of the brand”. This was an attempt to become more contemporary and relevant in today’s culture. Secondary Research However, according to Donald N. Sull’s 2005 article “Why Good Companies Go Bad”, Laura Ashley’s early success was the reason behind their later problems as a company. In Sull’s view, Laura Ashley was dedicated to traditional values and dress, but in a time where society was moving towards miniskirts and women with more presence and power in the workplace, the style lost its appeal and quickly became outdated. Donald Sull also sustains that, “The company... continued to pursue the outdated designs that embodied an ossified view of its core values”. This meant that Laura Ashley’s refusal to change led to their profits stagnating and eventually falling. This idea was reinforced in a similar article entitled “Laura Ashley Seeks to Balance Change and Tradition”, written by Sarah Lyall. “The company seemed stuck in a frilly rut,” Lyall wrote, “unsure of how to move forward with new fashions and tastes.” During the time of this article was written, the company was in the middle of a large business turnover. The aim was to reposition the company’s brand from clothes to both clothes and home furnishing. Then Ms. Ann Iverson, began closing smaller stores in favor of larger stores. Since then, Laura Ashley has expanded with some success. According to an article in Cabinet Maker magazine titled “Ecommerce Helps Laura Ashley Sales,” Laura Ashley’s sales increased during an 18-week period ending on June 2, 2012 by 4.1%. Web sales also increased by a sizeable 18.8% during this same time period. The source of these increases believed by the
  5. 5. 5 company is the result of the actualization of its website as well as a mobile version made available to their customers. Additionally, it was reported on February 13, 2012 in Home Textiles Today that Laura Ashley partnered with Synergy Licensing, LLC. in order to explore other product opportunities related to things such as collectibles and home items. SWOT Strengths: - Laura Ashley’s clothing line has Victorian prints with re-designed modern styles, which are appropriate for formal or casual wear for young executive women. - Laura Ashley fills a niche for Victorian-inspired clothing and has established an audience in women. - In the year of 2012 Laura Ashley reported that they expanded their e-commerce into four international markets and 24% of their total revenue is due in part to e-commerce. Weaknesses: - Laura Ashley strong target audience is women over 40-years-old. However, Laura Ashley is losing market share among 25 to 35 years-old women because of a negative brand image perception. - The clothing line designs history include A-shape, old fashion blouses, long dresses and wide designs that do not shape young woman's body. Opportunities: - Modern Victorian styles - The biggest opportunity for Laura Ashley is that they were the first company that came out with the Victorian print designs. Being the pioneers of this type of designs gives the company a unique, classic advantage over competition. They can expand in a
  6. 6. 6 market share if it is well re-positioned in the U.S. - Clothing and lingerie with floral designs are on fashion and blooming in the U.S. and Laura Ashley’s products are available in thousands of department stores in the U.S. Threats: - Competitors such as Ann Taylor, Bebe, and Banana Republic among many others, have an advantage over Laura Ashley because they can sell similar, elegant clothing in their own stores and have great market share and brand presence. Having a physical store makes products tangible and available for public to try them on without shipping hassles. Traditional shopping for clothing is still a preference among women in the U.S. Laura Ashley does not have its own stores in the U.S. - Online competitors such as Cath Kidston among thousands of others, sell similar Victorian styles online in the U.S. - Negative comments and reviews perpetuate Laura Ashley’s brand image and perception as outdated and for old women. - Fashion writers also write negative reviews about Laura Ashley. An example is when the editor from Western Mail newspaper, Cathryn Scott, wrote that Laura Ashley was, “a fashion nightmare” back in 2007. Key Problem to be solved Laura Ashley has a bad reputation and brand image of its clothing line. It is considered among target audience as outdated, A-shape blouses, made for old English women with no modern style. According to research, since Laura Ashley closed its stores in the U.S. and Canada, it is losing market share in the U.S. among young women.
  7. 7. 7 2. Key Strategic Campaign Decisions Communication objective To increase brand awareness and change brand image by increasing 20 percent reach among target audience by December 2015. Target audience Our target audience is U.S. women between the age of 25 and 35- years-old who are recent graduates or professionals who like to dress in trendy, L.A. fashions and formal designs that are appropriate for the workplace. These women like to use Facebook, Twitter and other social media. They are usually single, professional women who like to visit Nightclubs on the weekends, but work during the week. They take their career very seriously and like having a good professional image. They prefer to buy formal yet fashionable styles that are still youthful. Brand position Reposition Laura Ashley as “The unique & elegant Victorian L.A. style of today’s fashion” among target audience. Campaign strategy By creating a trendy L.A. fashion brand image we will increase reach among our target audience for Laura Ashley’s clothing lines.
  8. 8. 8 - We will enhance this image the same way it is being done in the UK and Europe. We will use the new trends and designs that are popular in the UK. - Celebrity endorsement: we will advertise these new trends and create a new brand image by using Anne Hathaway as our celebrity endorser. She will promote Laura Ashley’s new youthful and classy look. These new image will increase the demand for the clothes in high- end stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom. This approach could also lead to future demand for stores to reopen in the U.S. - We will redesign Laura Ashley U. S. website to create a modern appeal toward our target audience. - Social Media, we will create social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts to interact and have a benchmark for evaluation of image success among our target audience. We will use its website and social media pages to feature its new trends and designs. 2. Message Strategy Message objective Our message objective is to increase 20 percent media reach by December 2015 toward our target audience with the message that features Laura Ashley’s as the representation of the LA Victorian style in today’s fashion. Key consumer insight We will be matching Laura Ashley’s features of its new and fashionable clothing designs with our
  9. 9. 9 target audience tastes and preferences touching the motivations behind them, which are fashion, elegance, formality and tendency to seek for the LA latest trends. We will get our target audience to perceive Laura Ashley as the top fashion line that they will want to wear and be seen in. When they wear the brand we want them to feel like they too can look like movie stars. We will change the negative image that many young women have of Laura Ashley and create an association with youthful, fashionable, and celebrity status clothing. We will match Laura Ashley’s new, elegant and fashionable clothing designs with our target audience tastes and preferences. Our celebrity endorser will grab the attention of our target audience. Since our target audience likes to wear chic, conservative clothes, Laura Ashley can perfectly satisfy our target audience with its new designs as already done in the U.K. The use of targeted traditional and social media will be used to communicate appealing messages that target the motivations and insights of our target audience. Big Idea Our slogan is “Be a Star! With Style and Elegance in Today’s L.A. Fashion”. The Acronym LA will represent our desire image and will also be our acronym for Laura Ashley. This will create an emotional, inspirational and psychological appeal of Laura Ashley’s clothing line. These words will associate the brand with Anne Hathaway to reinvent our brand image and grasp the attention of our target audience. We will put our slogan in our advertisements, U.S. website, and on our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest platforms.
  10. 10. 10 Message Design and Execution Message Design Our message will have a soft sale appeal and drama format for a video commercial featuring Anne Hathaway. The message will say the following: “Be a Star! With Style and Elegance in Today’s L.A. Fashion, Laura Ashley.” With the visit us on Facebook and Twitter logo at the bottom of the screen (See storyboard in appendix). We have also prepared a mock drawing of what the real print ad will look for the magazine’s ad. The Execution On the video ad, Anne Hathaway is walking on a street which is covered with flowers and fallen autumn leaves in some small town wearing Laura Ashley’s new clothing line when a message appears: “Be a Star!” then she has flashbacks in her mind where she sees herself walking on a red carpet in Hollywood surrounded by lights, cameras flashing and a crowd of people. She is wearing the same clothes as before and then another message appears saying, “With Style and Elegance…” then a message appears on a white screen saying, “in Today’s L.A. Fashion Laura Ashley”. It’s logo will be right at the center and at the bottom of the screen will appear the message “Visit Us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest”. The character she portrays is a regular girl of about 25-years-old. She imagines herself as a celebrity instead of who she actually is. But, because of the clothes that she is wearing she actually feels like a celebrity. This video will be posted on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the Laura Ashley’s U.S.A. website.
  11. 11. 11 4. Media Plan Media objective We will use a target reach objective to get 20 percent of our target audience by December 2015. Therefore, we will persuade our target audience to change their views of Laura Ashley and see the brand as having trendy, fashionable, formal (for work) and an L.A. trend. Media strategy We will update the Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages constantly for Laura Ashley, which will have special promotions and links to the Laura Ashley USA website. Similarly, we will also update the USA website with the latest trends and styles which will also have a Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest plugin to link them and links among all social media platforms. We will use SEM (Search Engine Marketing) efforts such as Google Places and Google AdWords to draw media traffic toward our website and social media platforms and run promotions during the campaign aimed to enhance rebranding. As mention before, the video ad will also play in all online media. We want responses through our interactions in social media from our audience by inviting them to share pictures of themselves rocking Laura Ashley merchandise. We will have Anne Hathaway tweet from our official Laura Ashley twitter account about Laura Ashley updates and new designs. Part of our contract with Anne Hathaway will include the representation on Laura Ashley’s in her official Facebook and Twitter accounts. We will create a hashtags like “#Ucanwearit2” which will be used so that we can create awareness of our trends among her followers. Magazine ads in Vogue print and online versions will have the call, “Follow us on: [Twitter icon]
  12. 12. 12 [Facebook icon]”. Additionally, we will provide Anne Hathaway with Laura Ashley clothing to wear to events such as movie premieres, charity events and award ceremonies to create further buzz. We will measure insights from Facebook and Twitter as well as from the Laura Ashley U.S.A. website to keep track of our increase and evaluation during the execution and final results until the campaign resumes. We are doing this because it is the most cost effective measure our goal of 20 percent reach of target audience. Vehicle selection We will mainly use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to reach our target audience; online advertising such as Google Adwords; and place ads in magazines, aimed to our target audience, such as Vogue, InStyle and Elle. Using social media during the campaign will help remove the exposure barrier that the company currently has and will create engagement and response insights to evaluate campaign throughout its execution and evaluation phases. The use of traditional media and public relations tactics will motivate the target group and change their image perception about Laura Ashley. If they start seeing celebrities that they relate to, they’ll want to wear Laura Ashley as well. Scheduling We believe it is best to use the continuous strategy because the majority of our advertising campaign vehicles need constant updates, especially Facebook and Twitter. The new Laura Ashley advertising campaign should debut January 2015. Vogue, InStyle and Elle magazine publish new issues every month, so we will plan to have a Laura Ashley ad in every issue for the next year up to December 2015. We expect that the buzz created from the magazines will lead people to the Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages.
  13. 13. 13 Budget Allocation According to Laura Ashley’s annual report, the company made a profit of 19.3 million pounds, which converts to 30.9 million US. Dollars. We will use 15% of this to fund our advertising campaign (approximately $4.635 million). Most of the budget will go to securing Hathaway’s services, perhaps $3.25 million for her appearance in our ads and participation in our campaign. In addition, she would receive Laura Ashley merchandise for free to wear to big events such as movie premieres or award ceremonies. The remaining $1.385 million will be allocated to the ads, with 60% going to the creation of the video ad and 40% going to the creation and publication costs for magazine ads. Part of our budget will cover salaries for social media and account planners employees who will be constantly updating our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest pages, evaluating results and crafting messages to constantly target the media objective and main objective. 5. Conclusion We expect all of our efforts will increase brand awareness of the rebranding of our image for Laura Ashley, Inc. as we target 25 to 35-year-old women who are in the business world. This will consequently increase sales and the final goal of Laura Ashley, Inc. which is to change its brand image and increase awareness by 20 percent reach among our target audience in the USA by December 2015. By using different tools such as its U.S. Website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, online and traditional advertising we trust we will reach our communications objective. These steps should increase brand awareness and improve its image resulting on an
  14. 14. 14 increase profits for Laura Ashley, Inc. Bibliography "Ecommerce Helps Laura Ashley Sales." Cabinet Maker 5792 (2012): 8. Business Source Complete. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. Laura Ashley Holdings PLC. Laura Ashley Annual Report 2012. United Kingdom: Laura Ashley, 2012. Laura Ashley Corporate Information. 2012. 24 Oct. 2012. < ort_Jan_2012.pdf > "Laura Ashley Inc. Taps Synergy Licensing As Agent To Expand Into New Categories." Home Textiles Today 33.5 (2012): 16. Business Source Complete. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. Lyall, Sarah. “Laura Ashley Seeks to Balance Change and Tradition”. The New York Times. (1997) Web. 24 Oct. 2012. Retrieved from change-and-tradition.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm MONGET, KARYN. "Laura Ashley Intimates To Launch." WWD: Women's Wear Daily 201.74 (2011): 3b-1. Business Source Complete. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. Scott, Cathryn. “Laura Ashley Goes Back to Its Design Heyday. but Please, Don't Resurrect Any of These Fashion Nightmares” Western Mail (2007) Web. 24 Oct. 2012 Retrieved from back-to-its-design-heyday-but-please Shaitly, Shahesta. "Can Laura Ashley Be Edgy?" The Observer. Guardian News, 25
  15. 15. 15 Feb. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. < boration>. Sull, Donald N. "Why Good Companies Go Bad." Editorial. Financial Times [London] 3 Oct. 2005: 2005. Web. 30 Oct. 2012. <>.