Magazine article Marketing

Cred You Lose, Sales You Win

Magazine article Marketing

Cred You Lose, Sales You Win

Article excerpt

How does a niche brand keep its street cred in the mainstream? Danny Rogers reports on efforts by Ministry of Sound and Haagen-Dazs to go mass-market

A tub of ice cream and a night club may seem to have little in common, but in a sense they're both in the fashion business.

It emerged last week that two very different brands, Haagen-Dazs and London's Ministry of Sound nightclub, are experiencing growing pains.

Both forged their cool reputations in the early 90s but now aspire to mature, mass-market status. The critical challenge is how they can do this without losing the very mystique that assured their success. It is an issue presently being addressed by brands as diverse as Diesel and Sony PlayStation.

Haagen-Dazs has already put its cards on the table with its first national television campaign. Gone is the sexy, black and white imagery of the past, to be replaced by Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper's knowing, ironic approach.

But surely the brand is taking a big risk? "We are treading a tightrope," admits Martin Jamieson, UK managing director of parent company Pillsbury. "We want to increase sales volume but still want people to feel the product is exclusive to them."

Jamieson unwittingly reveals the inherent contradictions in such aims. In one statement he says, "We want to become more accessible to those people marching down the aisles at Sainsbury's," but later claims: "We're in fashion, not food."

Desire through exclusivity

Haagen-Dazs uses a number of techniques to ensure that it retains its exclusivity. These include careful event sponsorship and maintaining distribution outside multiple retail outlets.

But according to Jamieson, the most important thing is to "never talk about product attributes, however great the story; it commoditises the brand".

Robert Gill, new creative director at Leo Burnett, believes that it is not necessarily a good idea to become less daring in your advertising.

"Previously people would see a Haagen-Dazs ad and instantly recognise it as such. It may be a mistake to ignore this point of difference. Levi's is a mass-market brand which has retained its credibility through consistently creative advertising," he says.

Ministry of Sound, the original rave mega-club, still seems undecided on just how it can grow up. Unlike Haagen-Dazs it is a natural youth brand and has developed organically.

Nevertheless, under the entrepreneurial leadership of its founder, James Palumbo, and its managing director, Mark Rodol, it has similar plans for world domination.

Rodol admits that the brand's diversification into a record label, magazine and imminently television, has now made having a consistent brand advertising agency a necessity. …

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