THE LUXURY SHOPPING LAUNCH
PRELUDE: The Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables is an exclusive luxury retail center anchored by Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom (it was a big deal to depart from the word "mall" because of its open-air design). I was creative consultant to the independent firm contracted by the Rouse Company to provide public relations during the development phase of the project leading up to the inauguration, which involved keeping tight-lipped about which luxury merchants had signed. Initially, my involvement was to provide creative ways to pique interest during final construction and interesting ways to release the information, but I did a bit more than that.
ACT 1. I developed an idea for an invitation to the press event, delivered in a black envelope with silk cord and the label, "Top Secret" in bold letters on a yellow background. Inside would be a red cloth mouth with a zipper, which when opened would have an accordion folded note with the heading "VPM Talks."
ACT 2. The PR agency to whom I was creative consultant was asked to handle the Media buy, and so I developed a media strategy which included an idea for newspaper using different color "post-its" with a message every day of the week leading up to the Grand Opening Day message, "it's here!"
ACT 3. During this time, the advertising creative developed by another agency ran aground when presented to the dreaded "focus group," consisting of a target audience of local doyennes. The campaign had used an array of models of all ages and sizes engaging in shopping and other leisurely activities. Because the grounds were still in construction, the agency, which was not local, chose another venue as location background to use for the ads. Models were hired and a 2-day photo shoot took place. Then the boards were presented to the focus group. The only thing the focus group could focus on was the fact that the venue in the ads was not the shopping center itself, which no one had seen yet, but a very recognized, historic hotel, known for its fancy Sunday Brunch. "Isn't that the Biltmore?" "It's the Biltmore!" Why didn't they do a shot by the pool?" "I love brunch there..." Suddenly it was all about the Biltmore and not about Merrick Park! Worse, the budget had been blown on the 2-day photo-shoot, and creative was due for the magazines, like now. So I came up with this idea for a campaign that would involve no models or locations. Just different color backgrounds (which was already part of the branding), and text. Best of all, it was easily adapted to Spanish by a simple switch of the headline and closing line. (Todo lo que deseas... se encuentra aqui!)
"Remember how all everyone knows is that it is Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom and no other merchant has been revealed? That's all everyone wants to know, sooo....let's just do a page of text which starts on the top left with It's Here.. .Neiman Marcus (in bold) followed by all the fancy boutique names, and ending with Nordstrom at the bottom right and the closer, It's all here!" It was a big success!
ACT 4. Because the opening day would be and taking place outdoors in September (remember, this was not a "mall" and it is South Florida), there was a concern about guests "wilting in the heat and humidity. So I came up with a strategy to have guests presented with lovely parasols to use at the open air fashion show and take home along with the other swag, which also created a marvelous front-page worthy photo-op. EXIT STAGE RIGHT.