Crowning the King of Brands
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Crowning the King of Brands

VF needed a plan to give the apparel behemoth a face – to position it as a brand – in the view of mainstream business media in order to resonate better with consumers, stockholders, analysts and an array of key partners.

Paul Holmes

Think Proctor & Gamble. Think Johnson & Johnson. “Consumer goods companies” is a term that likely comes to mind. Think VF Corporation. Chances are that brands like Wrangler, The North Face and Nautica don’t materialize, much less the idea of VF as a brand. VF needed a plan to give the apparel behemoth a face – to position it as a brand – in the view of mainstream business media in order to resonate better with consumers, stockholders, analysts and an array of key partners. To do this, FWV developed story angles and interview opportunities that made VF the star player, supported by some of the world’s most trusted apparel brands.

In order for FWV to create recognition for VF as a brand, some internal, qualitative auditing was conducted. FWV discovered VF and its brands regularly conduct extensive consumer research, resulting in a rich understanding of consumer preferences and behaviors and the trends that precede them. This research takes place in every phase of VF’s operations, resulting in innovative technology, design, manufacturing, distribution, merchandising and marketing applications. This helped FWV conceptualize, create and utilize a focused pitch story calendar (see strategy below) offering storylines that trumpeted VF’s leadership position in advanced research that enables its brands to deliver on the corporate mantra of “right product, right place, right time.”

In the apparel industry, consolidation and acquisitions have created global players competing with a growing number of brands in multiple product categories for increasingly fragmented market shares. The companies best equipped to meet the challenges of a fluid, diversified marketplace and sophisticated consumerism will be the companies staying ahead of the curve. A PR program to reach business media was necessary to communicate that VF’s success as a global leader in lifestyle apparel is driven by a visionary leadership, a strategic growth strategy, product innovation based on consumer research, and forward-thinking practices.

FWV utilized story angles in addition to the perennial holiday and back-to-school product trend pitches, to communicate these key messages; VF is an apparel industry and global business leader that is strengthening its world-class portfolio by growing leading lifestyle brands around the world, sets the industry standard for consumer research and lifestyle marketing, develops innovative product lines that meet both the rational and emotional needs of consumers and is positioned to advance its leadership position for the next 10 years and beyond.

VF’s growth strategy springs from its ability to identify consumer lifestyle trends and translate them into lifestyle products to meet both the rational and emotional needs of consumers. Sportswear and outdoor brands are fueling VF's growth initiative. No other apparel company knows its consumers better than VF, as evidenced through product development, market responsiveness and lifestyle marketing that sets the industry standard for excellence.

VF’s thought leadership and executive vision are at the heart of the company’s competitive strengths. CEO Mackey McDonald, Sportswear and Outdoor Coalition Chairman Eric Wiseman and Chief Financial Officer Robert Shearer communicated the core messages of research, innovation and strategic growth in multiple print and broadcast interviews.

To maximize tactical efficiency and additional media opportunities, FWV created one-on-one “deskside briefings” for CEO Mackey McDonald during scheduled business trips to New York City. However, FWV’s media-generating weapon of choice was a 12-month pitch calendar, which served as a road map.

As a result of FWV’s strategic media relations plan, earned media include appearances (sometimes multiple) on CNBC’s “Kudlow & Cramer,” “Wake Up Call,” “Squawkbox” and “Closing Bell;” Bloomberg TV’s “Marketline;” Bloomberg Radio; and CNN’s “Money Gang”. Print articles were secured in such top-tier national business publications and national newspapers as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, Newsweek, Atlanta Journal Constitution, New York Post, BusinessWeek and the Baltimore Sun. Also, expanded, strategic coverage was obtained in top trades like DNR, WWD, Sportswear International and Footwear News.


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