Opening the Curtains to DR4 Mar, 2010 By: Thomas Haire Response
TV Expands Anna’s Horizons
For years, Anna’s Linens found its best marketing value in DR print. “In my previous jobs, we used circulars and we would see a terrific spike the day they hit. We were able to drive product with direct campaigns, so I carried this plan forward to Anna’s. We started with the idea of a regular print circular and for 18 years, this served as 100 percent of our marketing message,” Gladstone says.
However, in 2006, the Anna’s Linens team realized that it needed to expand its horizons. “In the three-mile ring around our each of our stores, people loved them. However, as we got farther away, fewer people had recognition of Anna’s Linens,” Gladstone says.
Thus, Gladstone decided to add TV to his media mix, and expand the abilities of the retail Web site — all to great benefit in the past three years, but not without a price. “We probably spend a greater percentage of our earnings on marketing than most retailers,” Gladstone contends. “However, we believe in it, and it’s worked! I don’t know how to replicate what the combination of TV, print and the Web have done for us for less money.”
The first TV campaign for Anna’s Linens was called “Fan of Anna’s.” Each short-form spot included either a visual call-to-action to visit the Web site or a phone number to call for the nearest location — a tactic that’s continued in each following campaign. “In the spots, our customers and employees talked about why they are fans of the store,” Gladstone says. “But our creative agency partners, Kovel/Fuller, thought that to separate Anna’s from cold and impersonal big-box stores, we needed to do something different.”
That difference? Making Gladstone the star of the spots, beginning in mid-2009. “I was hesitant at first,” he says with a laugh. “But they did a great job coaching and directing me. Today, I am amazed at how many people, all over the country, stop me and say, “I saw you on TV! My wife is a big fan of Anna’s!’ It’s helped create much more awareness and more personalization for the stores.”
At the same time, a number of spots have featured offers and calls-to-action, like the 400-count sheet set Gladstone mentioned earlier. That focus on drawing a direct response from its consumer base also turned 180 degrees in 2008, when Anna’s Linens stores began stocking a vast array of As Seen on TV products.
“You know, we started out 22 years ago as bed, bath and window covering products,” Gladstone says. “We didn’t go beyond that, like Bed Bath & Beyond or Linens-N-Things did. But we learned from their successes — and failures — in the market. We saw the As Seen on TV product space doing well, and we started stocking them about a year-and-a-half ago.”
In 2009, As Seen on TV products became Anna’s Linens’ fastest-growing product sector. “These products earned key positioning,” Gladstone says of the large displays near the checkout area in each store. “With the amount of marketing put into these products, and how their value is marketed on TV, these products are great impulse buys. If people want a Snuggie at Anna’s Linens, they’re absolutely going to get it. Still, it just amazes me how many of those — tens of thousands — that we sell.”
Partners Help Push to 1,000
Gladstone is quick to credit Anna’s Linens’ agency partners on the creative and media buying side. “I am a big proponent of our agencies — Kovel/Fuller and KSL Media,” he says. “They are both out of this world, and we are delighted with the relationships.”
When talking about KSL Media, Gladstone revels in the background work the agency did before pitching his company. “KSL really analyzed our business, who our customers are, why we needed to broaden our reach and target customers we were looking for but not necessarily good at reaching,” he says. “KSL was head and shoulders above any other company in the interview process. It starts with their team. They get our business, did — and continue to do — their homework, grasp who we are and what we needed to do. They even introduced us to Kovel/Fuller, our creative partners. For us, the two operate as one. Everything we do, we kick off with both companies.”
With more than 250 stores in operation, Gladstone remains focused on a promise he made to his mother shortly before her death in 2003 that, eventually, there will be 1,000 Anna’s Linens locations. Moving from pure DR print and into an integrated, multi-media direct response space has paid off for Gladstone and Anna’s Linens. Moving from pure DR print and into an integrated, multi-media direct response space has helped push the business toward that goal, and Gladstone has become a believer in this new DR marketing mix.
“The best medicine is to use print and TV in conjunction,” he contends. “Going totally print or totally TV just has not gotten same results for Anna’s as blending the two, especially once we found the secret sauce on what to spend on TV vs. what to spend on print. When you’re talking about spending $30 million a year on advertising, I am way too frugal to spend that kind of money if it doesn’t work. What we’re doing is obviously working.”