Growing La Senza Girl gets Crazy

With aggressive expansion plans on the horizon, La Senza Girl, which typically doesn't advertise but relies heavily on public relations to deliver its brand message, will intensify its promotional activity....

With aggressive expansion plans on the horizon, La Senza Girl, which typically doesn’t advertise but relies heavily on public relations to deliver its brand message, will intensify its promotional activity.

The chain will grow from 26 to 70 doors across Canada by the end of October, including new venues in Quebec, Alberta and Saskatchewan. In-store events will become an increasingly imperative tool for the expanding chain, says Heidi Doctor, the Montreal-based retailer’s marketing manager.

This summer, a co-branded strategy with Crazy Planet, a confectionary and fashion accessory line and a division of Spanish candy maker Chupa Chups, will kick off La Senza Girl’s commitment in this regard.

Recognizing that its core shopper, the impressionable seven- to 14-year-old – or tween – just wants to have fun, the Montreal-based clothing retailer will set up a pseudo-makeup clinic in four of its Toronto shops this summer, as well as host a related nation-wide contest.

The event revolves around interactivity – with a makeup artist – something the chain strives toward, says Doctor. ‘La Senza Girl’s philosophy has always been fun, fashion and friends,’ she explains. ‘For these girls it’s all about experience. While Mom’s shopping, they can do something they enjoy.’ La Senza hopes this promotion will flow into others with Crazy Planet, she adds.

Every other Saturday between June and September, a Crazy Planet makeover station – complete with a customized, barbershop chair – will be added to the four selected Toronto stores; youngsters will be treated to half-hour makeover sessions from technicians in outlandish costumes. Nail decals, hair accessories, body glitter – all part of the Crazy Planet collection – will be applied at the participant’s request. As a thank-you, each brave soul will leave with a goody bag filled with candy and product samplings.

Each Saturday before a clinic, shoppers will receive a grab bag filled with Crazy Planet candy and a postcard telling them about the make-overs. Details about the promotion will also be e-mailed to customers in the retailer’s 20,000-strong database and available on La Senza Girl’s Web site, www.lasenzagirl.com, which gets close to 10,000 hits a week, according to Doctor.

A Crazy Planet cartoon ad in Sound Sensations, a free Universal Music mag highlighting pop acts that speak to the same demographic, features a hip blonde blowing a bubble and asks ‘girrrrls’ to call a 1-800 number or check out www.lasenzagirl.com for particulars. Sound Sensations will be handed out at this summer’s PsykoBlast Tour, a YTV-sponsored music concert hosted in seven cities across Canada.

Crazy Planet had originally planned a generic ad for the zine, but decided to leverage its relationship with La Senza Girl instead, according to Tania Koster, creative director of Ground Control Marketing, the Toronto-based agency responsible for promoting the brand in Canada. The co-branded campaign marks the first time Crazy Planet, which encompasses unique products such as Crazy Rocks popping candy and a gumball-filled plastic watch, has been directly involved in a promotion. ‘This campaign was designed to make a stand in the market on our own, rather than with a third party,’ says Koster.

Limited by a tight budget, however, Crazy Planet needed a consort. ‘We wanted someone who had clout in the marketplace, and who we knew would be a long-term partner,’ explains Koster. ‘Considering [La Senza Girl's] expansion plans, developing a strong relationship with them early on is good for us.’

While someone in Kelowna, B.C. (a PsykoBlast location) isn’t likely to attend a makeover clinic in Toronto, she will be able to enter a corresponding contest where she could win a Crazy Planet watch, a scooter, or a back-to-school shopping spree. ‘This way if a kid calls in from Victoria or Edmonton, she won’t feel dissed by the advertisement and she’ll still have a chance to win,’ maintains Koster.

Still, Pascale LeBlanc, president of marketing consultancy Youthopia Communications in Toronto, believes some girls will be disappointed when they are shut out of the in-store events. ‘You can’t please everyone, but many of the youth will recognize that the companies have focused on providing alternate forms of value to them if they are not able to participate in the make-over clinics.’

In all, the campaign should reinforce the La Senza Girl brand by rewarding its current young customers – while also attracting new ones, LeBlanc says. ‘Using a national contest allows La Senza Girl and Crazy Planet to…potentially increase store and Web traffic.’