August 02, 2011 / LESS IS MORE. MORE IS LESS
August 02, 2011
Dave Alder, who leads our media and entertainment practice was recently telling me about when he opened a 30,000 square foot Virgin store in a small British town—the likes of which had never been seen in that community. The interior was beautiful and it housed countless cool brands. On the day the store opened to the public great bands played in the entrance, local celebrities were on hand, and the well-supported hometown football team was there in all its glory. The PR plan was in full swing.
Opening day was a huge success. Significant column inches (as was the primary PR goal back in the day), along with some great full color shots were generated in the local media. But the largest proportion of print coverage wasn’t generated by any of the store features, merchandise or star power, it was driven by and focused on an old stone owl.
This little guy had stood on the top of the building for over a century and a half. At about 11” tall, he’d scared countless flocks of pigeons away, and in the process, fulfilled his job of stopping them from tainting the Victorian façade of the building.
During the recent renovation, a workman had asked if they wanted to keep the owl. Of course they did. After all, he’d seen many store owners come and go during his unrelenting watch. So the idea arose to build him a cool perch, suspending him over the store’s main stairway, giving him his own slightly tongue-in-cheek commemoration plaque as a small, but extremely unique, local historical character.
All in all, to clean, mount, install and brand the little owl, it cost about thirty pounds, versus the million or so invested in the store itself.
Not only did that thirty pounds give them some great local publicity coverage, it gave them an ongoing talking point. Despite the store being part of a large nationwide chain, the brand was recognized as being respectful of the city’s local history, for having a warm personality, and a wry but fun sense of humor.
At 11” tall and for the price of two pizzas (or six English pasties), the little bird had achieved what years of traditional brand approaches, and PR tactics in particular, find extremely hard to achieve.
UNCOMMON SENSE OBSERVATIONS
Less can certainly be more.
Photo: Stuart Spivack