Campaign: Opening of new Oxford Circus store
PR team: Modus Publicity
Timescale: June 1996
Budget: Approx pounds 30,000
Benetton’s new Oxford Circus megastore signals a new marketing concept
for the media conscious retailer. The new outlet is the group’s biggest
shop in the world, and combines normal retailing with artistic pursuits.
There is exhibition space in the store and windows, with further space
for bands and DJs to perform.
To gain press coverage nationally and in London for the launch, to
promote sales, as well as generating international coverage to help
maintain Benetton’s image in the 119 countries where it has shops.
The media were promised something exciting and unusual, but details were
kept under wraps. They got two dozen live sheep dyed green, blue, and
pink, which arrived with their stewards in a pink Cadillac and several
London taxis, and were led to matching picket-fenced areas carpeted with
synthetic turf inside the store.
Company president Luciano Benetton arrived in the middle of the event to
lead the flock of journalists upstairs for an informal press briefing.
Benetton praised sheep as very efficient suppliers, justifying the stunt
by the fact that Benetton is the world’s largest consumer of wool.
Around 150 press attended the launch, which brought Oxford Circus to a
standstill. Coverage of the event was led in the national press by the
broadsheets, typified by the Guardian, which reported the launch along
with Luciano Benetton’s account of the group’s business position,
slightly ahead of its half-year results. Regional papers also used the
story and there was some international coverage.
TV crews from CNN, Sky, and EBN also attended, as did five national
press photographers. Following the launch, Luciano Benetton was profiled
in the Guardian, the Independent Magazine and the Independent on Sunday,
the Observer, Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Times and the
‘If you’ re Benetton, there’ s a pressure to do something different,’
says Seema Merchant, account director at Modus.
The press was certainly expecting entertainment, and Modus delivered. ‘I
enjoyed it,’ says Mark Roberts, retail and marketing correspondent at
the Economist. ‘Knowing to expect something unusual probably did
influence my going.’ The Economist, as it happens, did not cover the
However coverage in the national broadsheets must have caught the eye of
a significant proportion of Benetton’s London customers. Its individual
marketing style clearly works for a broad consumer base, and while this
stunt failed to live up to the brashness of its ‘cause-related’
advertising, at the very least it entertained.