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.
1. Situation Analysis
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.
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
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.
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
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- The clothing line designs history include A-shape, old fashion blouses, long dresses and wide
designs that do not shape young woman's body.
- 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
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.
- 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.
2. Key Strategic Campaign Decisions
To increase brand awareness and change brand image by increasing 20 percent reach among
target audience by December 2015.
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.
Reposition Laura Ashley as “The unique & elegant Victorian L.A. style of today’s fashion” among
By creating a trendy L.A. fashion brand image we will increase reach among our target audience
for Laura Ashley’s clothing lines.
- 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
- 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
2. Message Strategy
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
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
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.
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.
Message Design and Execution
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.
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.
4. Media Plan
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.
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]
[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.
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.
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.
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
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
increase profits for Laura Ashley, Inc.
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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
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Shaitly, Shahesta. "Can Laura Ashley Be Edgy?" The Observer. Guardian News, 25
Feb. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.
Sull, Donald N. "Why Good Companies Go Bad." Editorial. Financial Times [London] 3
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