In September 2010, Moores Clothing for Men, one of Canada’s leading menswear retailers, was about to embark inaugural Canadian Suit Drive (CSD). Introduced by US parent company, The Men’s Wearhouse, CSD was established to collect men’s professional clothing to donate to local organizations across Canada that would help men get back into the working world with appropriate business attire. These recipients can range from transitioning-homeless to new immigrants. CSD was launched to build equity, goodwill and sales for the brand and would reach its target audience through in-store marketing and public relations alone. To help drive sales, Moores provided a 25 per cent discount on merchandise in store, providing customers with an incentive to purchase after donating.
To promote the initiative, GolinHarris Canada (GH) was engaged to raise awareness for the campaign and help generate donations. The client challenged GH with lofty impression and donation goals, particularly as they had never done a public relations campaign before. With six weeks to launch the program on August 31st, there was little time for planning or error. Knowing the Canadian media pool is shallow, especially for opportunities to discuss menswear, GH had to create an attention-grabbing program with a budget of $50,000. With the launch falling around the cluttered space of Labour Day, back to school and end of summer stories, the program had to breakthrough to grab the attention of target audiences and media.
GOALS & OBJECTIVES
- Generate 15 per cent increase in sales for September
- Encourage a total of 15,000 donations of gently used professional attire
- Generate 5 million impressions
- 80 per cent of coverage with corporate philanthropy key message capture and call to action
TARGET AUDIENCE & PROGAM RESEARCH
In order to build an effective strategy for the CSD program, GH obtained information on Moores and its target by:
- Gathering additional existing data from the client about its target demographic – business men aged 25 to 45, who live in urban centres with a moderate income who are trend-conscious, on-the-go and career-driven
- Researched other activities going on in men’s suiting and clothing drives nationally in September
- Leveraged unemployment statistics of Canadian men from Statistics Canada to create a more tangible angle for CSD
- Cross-referenced Moores stores and recipient organizations with the key media markets to determine which were the most fruitful media territories
- Developed a strategy that would resonate with the target and Canadian media gatekeepers, reflective of the research gathered for the key audience
What we found was that our target consumer is career-driven, busy and self-motivated. Status is important and he wants to look his best at all times, despite a more modest budget. GH found similar past clothing drives and knew that CSD must differentiate from the rest and position Moores as a desirable and modern retailer meeting the mindset and aesthetics of the target.
- Created ‘Suit Off Your Back’ program, a series of street-level stunts featuring male models who literally took the suits off their backs and paraded- wearing only boxers and neck ties - through high-traffic business sectors in key markets as a tongue-and-cheek way to bring CSD to life, drive consumer awareness and understand all while grabbing media attention
- Established Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver as key markets, based on target audience demographics,
- Leveraged the CSD and its feel good, philanthropic mandate to generate positive, branded media coverage
- We knew we had to make a statement to grab consumers and media. What could be more compelling to media than attractive, half-naked male models in high-traffic areas?
‘Suit Off Your Back’ National Launch Stunt
- Developed key messaging for CSD which formed the foundation for all communication around the program including media materials, handouts and spokesperson interviews. Messaging included details of program, impact of recession on Canadian jobs and drive to store
- Developed customized media alert for all markets, and translated Montreal alert into French
- Developed national press release to issue on Canada Newswire at CSD kickoff
- GH casted models in the cities and established locations/venues for stunts
- Worked with client to select regional spokespeople to maximize interview opportunities in key markets
- Conducted media training for regional spokespeople and models to ensure they were aware of the program to align messaging in case interviewed
- Coordinated CSD kick off where teams of male models stormed pedestrian areas of Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal on August 31st to precede the September 1st program launch; distributed media alert to local media in advance and conducted media relations to encourage stunt attendance and coverage
- Created handouts for consumers who were looking for more information on how to donate
- Engaged Canadian Press photographer to take pictures in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal that were distributed on the wire along with CSD press release
- Models carried branded signs that encouraged others to ‘Give the Suit off their Back’ which included website details. This helped ensure branding in media coverage and informed passerbyers who did not commit to a handout but wanted to go online and learn more
‘Suit Off Your Back’ Ongoing and Regional Media Relations
- As budget didn’t allow a stunt in every market, GH targeted smaller regions where recipient organizations are located with post-stunt media relations
- Sent custom pitch and CSD news release highlighting the local recipient organization involved and how the program will help those in their area in need
- Briefed recipient organizations’ leaders with media training sessions to align messaging
- Provided media with all materials to help them craft a proactive story on the CSD, including:
- Interviews with local Moores representatives and recipient organization spokespeople
- Visits to local stores to see donations being made
- Leveraged brand’s existing partnership with Canadian Football League team, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, to conduct activities around CSD, including:
- Facilitated interview on Ticats’ radio station with local recipient organization about CSD
- Helped coordinate clothing drop-off at September 25th home game, resulting in 1,235 donations
The Labour Day time frame is cluttered with back to school stories as well as other organizations promoting their CSR activities – GH conquered by creating a visual, bold stunt to capture attention during this timeframe.
There was no PR-savvy spokesperson or consistent voice for the campaign. To overcome this, we worked closely with the client to ensure regional Moores employees were empowered, and media trained, to act as local spokespeople thus giving us a wide breadth of media opportunities. In the likelihood that media would want to speak to models at the stunts, we briefed them as well to ensure consistent messaging.
The actual kick-off stunt across Canada posed some challenges in both coordination and logistics. Each stunt market posed a challenge for the team to overcome as we were required to find high-traffic pedestrian areas where the target resided in just six short weeks. By leveraging the national GH team, we were able to find the best areas to host demonstrations that fit the brand. Calgary in particular encountered several issues. We had planned to conduct all stunts in the morning to capture the attention of breakfast shows and target audience interception but, in Calgary, there is no ideal location to host a morning stunt. Also, the event space would not allow the models to go topless as the city is more conservative. We were able to revise the media strategy and move the timing to lunch hour when it is more high-traffic, and still secure media interest and consumer awareness while being inline with the region and client’s comfort level.
EVALUATION OF SUCCESS
The ‘Suit Off Your Back’ stunt broke through the clutter of CSR initiatives with shock value and not only put smiles on commuters’ faces but also exceeded all business and communication objectives.
- September 2010 saw 77 per cent improvement on average ticket price over August’s sales (exceeding goal by 62 per cent) On average, 28 per cent of those who donated redeemed the 25 per cent off discount
- Donations exceeded 16,800 across Canada that can be directly attributed to the PR efforts
- The campaign produced 9.8 million impressions in August/September in stunt markets and across regional outlets where the donations were taking place, including Hamilton, ON, Windsor, ON and Victoria, BC
- Featured in top Canadian media outlets such as:
o Front page of Metro Vancouver
o CBC News Toronto
o Breakfast Television Toronto
o Global Calgary
- With 100 per cent brand mentions and key messaging in all coverage for the Moores CSD, the brand was synonymous with the philanthropy and community commitment it was activating