Reitmans wears the power of diversity on its sleeve

The retailer takes its approach a step further by helping women confidently show solidarity for each other's causes.

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Reitmans is advancing its efforts around more diverse marketing by zeroing in on the importance of being able to fearlessly express who you are and what is important to the women that make up its customer base.

The retailer’s new fall campaign, “Wear Your Support,” is built around the message that embracing and expressing who you are is a source of power and self-confidence.

Like the retailer’s “Really You” campaign, the creative features non-models, with this year’s personalities including athlete, trainer and Big Fit Girl author Louise Green, novelist Esi Edugyan, Quw’utsun’ Made founder Arianna Lauren, singer and LGBTQ advocate Jully Black, Quebec pop singer Ariane Moffatt, Paralympic snowboarder Michelle Salt and Drag Race Canada judge Brooke Lynn Hytes.

Each personality also designed a custom t-shirt that represents their values and vision of diversity; the shirts will be available online and inside stores today, with $5 from each sale going to a charity of each personality’s choice (up to a maximum of $10,000 each).

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Reitmans launched the “Really You” platform in 2018, based around giving its customer the self-confidence to make the everyday aspirational by simply being who they are, and that the retailer understands what they need in order to express that.

Valérie Vedrines, VP of marketing, ecommerce and visual presentation for Reitman’s, says the elements of the original campaign that got the most positive feedback were the ones featuring women that aren’t typically seen in fashion ads, be it because of their age, body type, disability or race.

“We realized it was time to go further and beyond traditional marketing activities to allow women to speak for themselves and use our platform to be the catalyst for engagement with their causes,” she says, adding that it’s not just about Reitmans supporting social causes, but using its platform to empower women to do the same. “Back then, [the campaign was based] around the idea that nothing fits as well as confidence, no matter who you are. We are continuing in the same direction, but with a more evolved approach, showing that embracing who you are is empowering.”

Though the campaign was developed earlier this year and put on hold due to pandemic store closures, the events of the last six months have made this approach even more relevant. It’s true that women will feel more of a connection to the brand if they see themselves represented in its ads, they are also looking for chances to show solidarity with women whose experiences might be slightly different than their own. That’s a feeling that has swelled lately, given that women have been more impacted by the physical and mental health challenges of the pandemic, face harsher consequences of race- and sexuality-based discrimination and have been facing more economic hardships.

“We are in a better place today to engage on an empowerment campaign because we have seen, in the past month, solidarity between women is more important than ever,” Valerie says. “The customers are there already. It has become part of the DNA of the company, and it’s what customers want a brand to stand for, and we try to demonstrate it in what we do.”

The full campaign includes in-store signage, out-of-home and social media. All of the creative drives to podcast episodes, hosted by Cossette’s VP of content experience Chris Bergeron, where she gives each personality the opportunity to talk about their personal story, as well as their shirt design and the charity they are supporting (though Cossette has worked with Reitmans in the past, this is its first mass campaign for the retailer; the “Really You” platform was originally created by agency Tux). Valerie says this part of an approach the retailer has taken to create multiple “layers” of engagement, an approach that has become more important as digital channels become more relevant to consumers habits during the pandemic.

In May, Reitmans filed for creditor protection, one of several mid-range fashion retailers to have pandemic store closures exacerbate challenges they had been facing for years due to a changing retail environment. A planned restructuring would include “optimizing” its retail footprint and continuing a push to increase its digital business – it has since shuttered the Thyme Maternity and Addition Elle banners, and eliminated the president’s role for RW&Co.