Monday, 8 June 2009

Monday morning musings

* The MP expenses scandal has hit fashion cataloguer/retailer Joules: "Joules has been rocked to its core by the news that Tom Joule, MD and amateur chicken keeper, claimed expenses on a second chicken coop whilst his primary chicken coop was at the time being sublet to a Buff Plymouth Rock Bantam named Theresa." So reads an article in a mock scandal sheet that Joules posted on its site and emailed to subscribers. Joules uses this to promote a contest to win the chicken coop in question as well as a 15-percent-off sale, but just as important, the promotion communicates the brand's country-living ethos and sense of fun.

* An article in the Sunday Times refutes the philosophy, which I've been hearing more mutterings of lately, that print catalogues are dying at the hands of the web. In discussing Argos parent company Home Retail Group, which is expected to report decent quarterly sales this week, the article notes, "The internet was supposed to kill off Argos with its store showroom and catalogue model. Instead, the web has turned out to be its saviour. More than a fifth of its sales are now online – many web customers check stock availability and reserve and pay for products on the net before picking up the items." Granted, this doesn't speak to the viability of print per se, but it does point to the fact that when it comes to marketing media and sales channels, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

* Primrose London, a direct marketer of garden furnishings, also understands the synergies of multichannel marketing. On the catalogue request page of its website, it doesn't discourage consumers from asking for a print brochure, as so many other companies do. It does, however, explain the advantages and disadvantages of print versus web: "Our catalogue is a 32-page brochure with a selection of the wide range of products we sell. It's a great way to get inspiration for the garden in a more relaxing fashion than browsing the website. However, printing costs are huge so the website will always be more up-to-date than the catalogue. (In other words, the catalogue doesn't contain more information than the website - it's not a technical brochure, nor is it a complete listing of everything we sell. Please refer to the website for the latest prices and products – and please don't rely on information in the catalogue which may now be out of date.)"

* According to yesterday's Observer, Sacha Baron Cohen did some catalogue modelling after leaving Cambridge. Does anyone know whom he worked for or, even better, have the pictures? It would be an appropriate tie-in to his upcoming Bruno film, no?--SC

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