Harry Rosen updates its look

The retailer evolves alongside menswear trends with its first TV ads and a campaign supporting a made-to-measure brand.


This story is a preview of the May/June 2018 issue of strategy, on newsstands May 1.

Harry Rosen is one of Canada’s most recognizable names in men’s fashion, so it might be surprising that two new spots, created by Isaac Reputation Group, mark the 70-year-old retailer’s first foray into TV.

Past advertising for Harry Rosen – typically seen as the store for “Bay Street” professionals – has relied on print and, recently, targeted online ads. But what it means to dress “professionally” has changed, so HR wants to reach a broader audience and challenge lingering notions of its image.

“There’s a customer [Harry Rosen] wants to speak to that isn’t seeing ads in newspapers,” says Isaac partner and CD, Bob Goulart, who has been a consultant for Harry Rosen 20-plus years. “We can target them on digital, but it’s harder to tell a robust story there. TV allows us to express a contemporary air of confidence and youthfulness, and the diversity of [men’s clothing].”

Looks go beyond work attire, featuring fashion-forward styles and designer streetwear. The TV spots were shot in tandem with creative for Harry, a twice annual magazine that Goulart says is “the best expression” of Harry Rosen and a pillar of its content strategy.

Cairns Oneil handled the media buy.

Harry’s bread-and-butter was always the suit, an area where it is facing more competition. Younger men embrace made-to-measure, driven by online retailers like Indochino and Suitsupply that make custom suits accessible. In 2016, Harry became the exclusive Canadian retailer for Amsterdam’s Atelier Munro, adding made-to-measure products with price points similar to online players. But beyond competing on price, it’s also focusing on in-store customer service, a pillar of its brand for decades.

To communicate this, OOH ads use sales associates dressed in its Munro suits, with copy stating the looks were made just for them.

The ads don’t mention Harry Rosen and drive to Munro’s URL, allowing the latter brand – built on youthful energy, contemporary styles and on-trend made-to-measure service – to stand on its own. But once consumers visit the URL, they are redirected to the Harry Rosen site.

“Munro has this [contemporary] attitude and design,” Goulart says. “But then bringing them under the umbrella of Harry, where they know they get the service and expertise they can’t get elsewhere, is what’s really exciting.”