Magazine article Marketing

Making Strides with Boots

Magazine article Marketing

Making Strides with Boots

Article excerpt

Entering the world of Boots is akin to stepping into the very heart of England. There, on a vast plain in Nottingham, sits Bootsland. Bigger than Monaco, although perhaps a little less racy.

Walking past the reception, with its royal warrants and busts of founder Jesse Boot, you pass through acres of open-plan offices of dark-stained formica. Only the faintest of hums coming from the offices alerts you to the fact that you are in the very nucleus of the UK's largest retailer.

Finally, you arrive at the domain of the marketing and merchandising director of Boots The Chemist. A big door swings open to reveal a man with a clipped moustache, a loud bark, and wearing a suit greyer than slate with heavy flakes of dandruff on his shoulders.

No, not really. In fact, before you is the trim, neat figure of David Kneale - only 42, but with 20 years' company service under his belt and representing the thoroughly modern face of Boots. It is Kneale's job to rid Boots of its safe-but-boring image, luring the brand out of the nursery and into the bedroom.

"What we have to avoid is allowing the vision of the man in the white coat to crop up throughout the store, which we have been guilty of. If that happens, we just become boring," says Kneale.

To complete his task, Boots is investing [pounds]300m in the brand over the next four years. The challenge is to ensure that he doesn't in anyway corrupt the brand values of trust, purity and efficacy by bestowing a more contemporary look on Boots.

To this end, stores are being updated, a loyalty card is under serious consideration and plans are afoot to introduce more 'power brands' in the mould of Nos 7 and 17. And the corporate advertising, which he readily admits has been boring, will be revamped to tell individual stories, rather than rely upon a bland corporate message.

But Kneale has avoided such a label. Which is surprising, given the fact that he has done little else since he left university than work for Boots.

Those who know him say he is popular and approachable, and has a sense of humour which can appear at odds with his rather stern - almost bookish - appearance. But personal appearances aside, he is highly regarded for his professional capabilities.

Steven Carter, managing director of Boots' lead agency J Walter Thompson, says that despite the enormity of Kneale's job - with a department of 800 people, 1200 stores, a [pounds]34m ad budget, and a [pounds]30m promotional budget - he is anything but remote. …

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