Harry gets hip with casual campaign

What will Harry Rosen customers be wearing today?...

What will Harry Rosen customers be wearing today?

Chances are it’s not the standard corporate uniform of five or 10 years ago. The workplace environment is changing – and with it, traditional notions of what constitutes business attire.

It’s no surprise, then, that Toronto-based Harry Rosen – arguably this country’s pre-eminent menswear retailer – has decided to change its own look. Or at least, the look of its consumer advertising.

In March, the company unveiled a $3-million newspaper campaign, its first new effort since the launch of the much-lauded "Whatever Suits You" campaign in 1996. The ads, created by Toronto-based Roche Macaulay & Partners Advertising, take aim at a younger and more contemporary customer, by positioning Harry Rosen as a source for the full range of menswear – not just suits and ties.

(The campaign is also Roche’s swan song as AOR for Harry Rosen. In early May, the agency departed to take on the Holt Renfrew and Co. account.)

The "Whatever Suits You" newspaper ads, which depicted famous Canadians sporting their outfits for the day, attracted more attention than any other effort Harry Rosen had undertaken since the 1960s.

Increasingly, however, the upscale retailer has become interested in cultivating younger customers. As company president Larry Rosen notes, some 56% of its customers are now under the age of 40, and 22% are under 30.

"The more mature guy already knows us fairly well," Rosen says. "We wanted to speak in a fun, intelligent way to our younger customer."

With the rise of the new economy, many younger businessmen are dressing much more casually than their counterparts of a generation ago, Rosen adds. Lawyers and MBAs jumping from traditional firms to dot-com businesses are shedding their suits. And the company felt the need to acknowledge that shift.

"We wanted a campaign that was modern and that showed we’re current with what’s happening," Rosen says.

"What’s business wear today would have been defined as ‘casual Friday’ five years ago," notes

Geoffrey Roche, president and creative director of Roche Macaulay. "Harry has to attract a different audience, not just a suit-and-tie person."

At the same time, the campaign also needed to reinforce the retailer’s brand image as a source of expertise on men’s attire.

"We’re in the business of assisting men develop a confident personal image for any time, any place, any occasion," Rosen says. "We can’t help you with your daily life, but what we can do is make sure you’re dressed appropriately for any occasion."

The half-page newspaper ads depict businessmen – all clad in designer duds from Harry Rosen – suffering everyday mishaps. A hand-written daytimer entry in the upper left-hand corner of each ad provides ironic counterpoint. The campaign tagline is, "You’ll face a number of dilemmas in a day, what to wear shouldn’t be one of them."

One execution shows a man on a golf course, just completing a swing. In the distance is another man who has fallen to his hands and knees and is clutching his head in pain, having clearly been beaned with the ball. The daytimer entry reads, "Golf with Boss."

Another portrays a man casting a nonplussed glance at a teenage punkette, who sports a nose ring, tattoos and spiked collar. The caption: "National bring your kids to work day."

A third – clearly done with dot-com executives in mind – shows an executive reacting in horror as a faulty washroom tap splashes his crotch with water, just moments before a big Web site presentation.

While the somewhat edgy humour of the ads may be atypical for an upscale retailer, it’s very much part of the Harry Rosen tradition, says Sandra Kennedy, the company’s marketing manager.

"We’ve always been a touch irreverent," she says. "It’s part of our brand character."

(One execution may have been a little too irreverent. It featured a man standing on the subway, unaware that the doors have just closed on the leash he’s holding, trapping the unfortunate canine on the other side. The daytimer entry read, "Walk Nancy’s dog." Some unfavourable press coverage led to the ad being pulled.)

While Harry Rosen has explored various media options, Kennedy says, newspaper remains the most effective vehicle for maintaining the retailer’s brand.

The "dilemma" ads have been running in rotation in a number of major dailies – The Globe and Mail, the National Post, La Presse, Les Affaires, the Calgary Herald, The Vancouver Sun, the Winnipeg Free Press and The Gazette in Montreal – as well as on boards at Scotia Plaza in Toronto’s business district. The campaign will wrap up in June.

As for the "Whatever Suits You" campaign, its retirement is by no means permanent.

"We haven’t abandoned it," Larry Rosen says. "We may use it again in the future. People still refer to it. If we had the right person and the right event, we’d re-inaugurate it in a flash."

Also in this report:

- POP progress slow but sure: With the promise of credible data, point-of-purchase is poised to prove its worth as a medium p.25

- Interactive merchandising on the rise: Just one of several trends apparent at GlobalShop 2000 show in Chicago p.25

- North West Co. nurtures roots: Retailer supports local activities in remote communities throughout the north p.27

- Traditional retailers can thrive in online world p.27

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.