Sunday, January 28, 2007

Burberry... oh dear, another problem!

Poor old Burberry, yet another well-publicised kerfuffle tarnishing their luxury brand... yesterday protesters demonstrated outside the London store, in opposition to the news that Burberry are closing their factory in Wales and moving it overseas, possibly to China. This would lose 300 jobs in a small valley community. So much for the brand being synonymous with quintessential Britishness... so British superficially, in style, but made in China...

They seem to be facing a bit of a branding challenge at the moment... PETA's anti-fur campaign Bloody Burberry was launched last autumn, pointing out that although many luxury clothing retailers have already pulled fur from their ranges, Burberry continues to use it.

Still, they've come through other 'challenges' to their brand's status. They survived Kate Moss's 'Cocaine Kate' drug-taking allegations, by dumping her as the 'face of Burberry' in their advertising campaign.

However, they do seem to be still battling against the Challenge of the Chavs. Terribly unfortunate for a luxury brand to be adopted by label-conscious but wholly 'unsuitable people' from the 'wrong' social class.... This 'problem' was addressed legally, by protecting their copyright over their tartan, cracking down on fake Burberry-style goods. It was also addressed visibly, by reducing the use of that plaid from one-fifth to only 5% of their goods. This gave the offending shoppers less choice of visibly branded products to buy, and even if the 'wrong people' managed to wear their products, it wouldn't be so glaringly obvious on the streets.

Interesting to check* how Burberry sales figures for the UK fare over the next year, to see whether, and how much, lasting damage is done to brands through certain types of publicity. I did see a complete Burberry-clad family in Selfridges before Christmas, even the baby was top-to-toe in tartan, along with mum and dad. I guess Burberry would see that as the 'wrong type of customer' as they sounded quite working class, though obviously wealthy enough... and you can still see Burberry-style nail art in nail salons, in some less affluent parts of London.

Branding is quite cynical, in the way companies define their target markets. Financially, you might be able to afford to buy the products, but are you considered worthy or stylish enough by the marketing people to wear them? Or on the other hand, putting this into perspective... at the end of the day, they're clothes, made to be bought and worn....
shouldn't matter what social class you're from, as long as you've got the money.

*Whoops, a dodgy pun, but so very appropriate!


chillintanka said...

I thought people were over this brand?

Claire said...

It seems to have got very unfashionable to be associated with recently, at least with Welsh celebs. I think it's a nationalistic issue but it's still bubbling away, will probably continue till they close their factory in Wales in March.