Square One’s image makeover

For its big brand campaign, the GTA mall is channeling European flair to help build its premium cred.

It’s already the largest shopping centre in the West GTA, with more than 360 stores over 1.8 million square feet. Now Square One is launching a new brand position developed with design agency Jacknife to establish itself as not just the largest, but the premier destination in the area.

The mall’s first OOH campaign in three years features the tagline “It starts here,” a slogan that’s been appearing inside the mall for the past year. The campaign launched with a targeted OOH media buy, including a billboard on the Gardiner Expressway and on the side of area Go stations, along with TSAs in affluent neighbourhoods near the centre, as well as a refreshed website.

In addition, a lookbook insert was included in the Globe and Mail last week. It targets women ages 25 to 45 living in the West GTA who love brands and are university educated professionals. The media buy was handled by Wills & Co. Media Strategies.

Toni Holley, marketing director for Square One, says the mall chose to launch the campaign now because it’s the fall season but also because of the soft-opening in September of its North wing, which houses several new stores including Brandy Melville and Ben Moss (with Forever 21, Old Navy and an Aroma Espresso Cafe coming later this year). It also hints at the opening of its luxury wing in 2016, which will include a Holt Renfrew, along with the first Ontario location for Simons.

“We thought this was a good opportunity to not just have a brand awareness campaign but a new store awareness for what we call some of our ‘braggable’ stores,” Holley says.

While going forward the brand will focus on quality to encompass all of its brands and not just its premium offerings, Holley says this campaign was focused on high fashion, with the ads having a fashion magazine feel to them.

“The inspiration for this campaign was the look and feel of high-end European ads, which is different from a shopping centre ad,” she adds. “We wanted it to stand out as something different either from what Square One has done in the past or what other shopping centres have done.”

The campaign, which launched late September, comes just over a year after Jacknife started a brand positioning exercise with Square One. The agency has worked with the mall on strategy, creative and production as the mall re-introduces itself to the public.

With the Mississauga and West GTA community expanding, Holley says there are many affluent communities in the area, and that having brands like Simons and Holt Renfrew will allow them to cater to a different demographic.

Rick Amaral, ACD and brand specialist at Jacknife, says the agency wanted to emphasize the mall as an access point to premium retailers and brands, while also recognizing it as a landmark destination in that area, which led to the “It starts here” tagline.

“The whole idea is to create the premium experience,” says Kim Norwich, ACD at Jacknife, who lead the project. “Part of that is creating consistency in the experience level when you are at the shopping centre, from the moment of pulling into the parking lot.

“This is a little bit of the coming out party for Square One in terms of brand awareness.”

Amaral adds that because Jacknife has been working with Square One on a full rebrand, it will allow for a campaign that fits the positioning.

“Typically what happens in the retail centre world is [campaigns are] either value-driven or very last-minute,” he says. “Square One, to their credit, has taken the brand, embraced it and also embraced a lot of the process and internal change they need to accommodate to be ahead of the curve, so you can actually consider each campaign as it comes along.”