Sunday, September 13, 2009

How do you sell priceless? The Hilary Druxman advertising campaign challenge!

Hilary Druxman's airport location: a diamond in the rough.

A visit to the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport? $10.

The chance to advertise and promote Hilary Druxman's airport location? Priceless.

This semester, Red River College's advertising majors will be putting together individual advertising campaigns for Hilary Druxman’s second Winnipeg jewelry store (the first is in the Exchange District, just a couple of blocks away from the college's downtown campus).

The students' aim is to drive people to that location and - like any ad campaign - increase sales and awareness among members of the primary, secondary, and tertiary target audiences.

Tomorrow morning, I meet the advertising majors at the airport, where we'll meet our client; in a nice bit of overlap, the marketing and store manager of the airport location is Creative Communications grad Christa Mariash.

(Afterward, I'm hoping the students surprise me with a free trip to Europe. A guy can dream, right?)

After our visit, the students have just over a month and a half to put together and present a series of recommendations for implementing an Integrated Marketing Communications campaign strategy with creative (including new media, of course) as its backbone.

Hilary and her team will choose five of her favorite campaigns (in "plansbook" form), and these students will present directly to her at the end of November.

Hilary Druxman is a great client (as a store and a person); I met Hilary (the person, not the store) at last year's Red River College Directions Business Conference, where she spoke about embracing risk, commitment, and adaptability as an entrepreneur.

I attended her presentation thanks to a tip from a longtime (and very picky) friend, who told me that Hilary Druxman is the only store from which she would ever buy jewelry. According to this article, Renee Zellweger, Cate Blanchett, the Desperate Housewives, and even Arnold Schwarzenegger agree.

I wrote about the Business Conference and Hilary opening the airport location shortly thereafter right here.

There will be some challenges inherent in putting together this campaign, which is part of the reason why I like it so much as an assignment:

1. How do you drive Winnipeggers to check out a store at the airport? Will it only happen as part of a trip to pick up or drop off passengers, or can you make the case that "it's worth the trip?" (Thank you, Steinbach and Stan Kubicek).

2. The jewelry in the store is affordable, but there is no price on anything; to find out the price, you need to ask, "How much is this piece?" That's a challenge too. How do you keep people in the store before they flee from the (imagined) prices and perceived embarrassment at not being able to afford them?

3. The store is located right next to Winnipeg's only Harvey's/Swiss Chalet location; without insulting Harvey's clientele, let's just say that they're "different" from Hilary's.

4. The advertising has to be clean, professional, and suit the brand. It may be harder to sell "upscale" than anything else, because there's a fine line between self-actualization and snooty.

5. When business people from other places travel, they pick up gifts for people back home because they feel bad that they've been gone so long (which explains my entire collection of G.I. Joes). How do we tell people - coming and going on airplanes - that this store exists?

6. How does new media tie in with all of this?

7. Marketing wise, what is possible - and not possible - to do at the airport? Encasing jewels in liquid and gels is, I presume, not a great idea.

I look forward to seeing what the ad majors come up with! I'll be posting some of the - ahem - gems right here.

*Photo update from this morning's visit:

Christa Mariash answers the tough questions.


  1. Wow! That sounds like an interesting individual campaign assignment for this year, Kenton.

    Out of curiosity, were they given an estimated budget or is the focus on the ideas?

    This seems a little more challenging than last year's mixtape campaign, if for no other reason than the store is located at the airport. They'll definitely have to choose the right audience and the right focus for the campaign.

  2. I suppose it'll be next to Harvey's for now, but, disappointingly, there will be no Harvey's in the new terminal, so it may have a more advantageous position when that opens.

    Good luck ad majors!

  3. If you asked my boyfriend, he'd tell you that being located next to the only Swiss Chalet location in town is actually a selling point. If they could move that Space Gun arcade cabinet next to it, I'm sure he'd make the trip there to buy me some jewelry.

  4. That sounds like a fantastic project, Kenton. Can I come back and work on my own campaign? Just kidding. I'd love to see what they come up with.

  5. Yes, please come back! Don't you know you've got a lifetime pass?

    Ha, ha...

  6. Splendid! See you tomorrow at 8 am..haha. By the way, if you need a guest judge for the presentations, I'd love to see them.

  7. I may take you up on the offer...


  8. Interesting you should mention the absence of price display as an advertising consideration. I love the store and have bought items there but I hate it that they don't list prices and I have to ask. What is the marketing rationale behind this when the prices are not outrageous? For those with a limited budget, it is intimidating. I will be interested to see how the students address this challenge.


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