“Do a bit of Debenhams” urges Mother, in bid to restore shopping’s role in our culture

Last November, JWT delivered what may well have been Debenhams’ final Christmas blockbuster TV ad, with a big budget retelling of the Cinderella story.

Days later, Mother was awarded the business with a brief to focus on social shopping.

The agency’s new strategy for the brand launches this week with the line, “Do a bit of Debenhams,” spearheading a “social media first” campaign that also allows a budget for brochures in print titles including Sunday Times Style, You magazine, Metro and Marie Claire. There’s also a new logo by Mother Design, the first update for the 200 year-old brand since 1999.

Like the rest of the high street, Debenhams is facing huge challenges to keep customers coming in through the door. The retailer has issued three profit warning this year, and announced nearly 100 jobs cut in August. Mike Ashely, the Sports Direct boss who recently bought House of Fraser, owns 29.7 per cent of Debenhams and has been openly critical of its management.

To counteract the gloom, Mother’s plan is for this new campaign to “celebrate the unapologetic joy of shopping.”

Richard Cristofoli, Debenhams’ managing director of marketing and beauty, says: “Many consumers lamented that shopping had lost its role in our culture and in some ways had become transactional, solitary and trivialised. We wanted to reclaim it as the rich, experiential and joyous experience that brings family and friends together.”

One of Debenhams’ “experiential” survival strategies is the launch of Sweat! gyms in some of its stores, offering customers the chance to win reward points as they workout and, presumably, help spread the cost of the rent bill.

Mother has come up with a good, catchy line that has a lot of potential, but the products could do a bit more of the talking.

MAA creative scale: 6

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is the former London Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.
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