Leon’s opts for the funny bone instead of the heart

The furniture retailer is going against the grain of emotional ads with a more humorous take on staying at home.

The Ides of March 2020 was marked by a pandemic that was swifty followed by a screeching halt of ads and then a slow return with a host of brand-led rallying cries. That was then, but this is now, and so furniture brand Leon’s has decided to take a more comedic approach to its spring advertising as Canadians continue to hibernate and shelter inside.

“COVID is a very serious issue and we identify the seriousness of it and the impact it’s had on people, businesses and society as a whole,” says Lewis Leon, the company’s marketing manager. “There’s a lot of negative news out there, and we wanted to add some lightheartedness with our advertising.”

Launched last week, the retailer’s new campaign (created by BIMM) encourages Canadians to take a “renovacation” in lieu of the traveling, live entertainment and dining out they might enjoy in an ordinary world. It also brought back its “Surprisingly Stylish” characters to promote the value of a home makeover.

“Humour’s been a part of our brand for a very long time,” he adds. “We just wanted to see how we could adapt that to the current situation and bring a smile to peoples’ faces as we go through this situation together.”

The goal is to tap into the desire of many Canadians to make the spaces they’re spending the majority of their time in nicer or, perhaps, to buy a needed item to improve their Zoom backdrops.

“We wanted to put a campaign together that could live in the situation we’re in right now and one where people can get out more,” he says.

According to Leon, the company’s business faced “some pretty significant disruptions” in the early days of the pandemic, when stores were forced shut due to lockdowns. However, when stores have been allowed to re-open, he says, sales have been good – a fact he attributes to people having more disposable income that they can’t spend in other places.

The retailer has made upgrades to its digital presence to help drive online sales, but some challenges persist. “A lot of customers in our category still like to come in and touch and feel the product, make sure the colour and fit are right and that it feels good,” says Leon. “We’ve improved the foundation of our digital platform, marketing and all of that, but we feel that when our stores are open again, our operations will be stronger.”