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Burberry in step with digital age (How social media changes promotion)

The luxury fashion brand Burberry has spurned glossy magazine adverts in favour of a Facebook campaign to promote the global launch of its latest fragrance, Burberry Body.

The company has told the Financial Times that over 60 per cent of its annual marketing budget is now devoted to digital media – more than three times the market average.

While bolstering its online presence through social networking sites, Burberry has reduced spending on traditional print advertising, which previously commanded the lion’s share of its budget.

On average, digital makes up 15 to 20 per cent of media spending globally. Burberry’s strategy shows how quickly the fashion industry is moving away from magazines as it seeks to interact with consumers worldwide.

Over the past week, Burberry has been offering its 8m Facebook followers the chance to receive an expensively packaged sample of its new scent through the post, a more extravagant promotion than a free sample glued to the pages of a fashion magazine. Over 250,000 people worldwide have already signed up, with the majority giving permission for their contact details to remain on Burberry’s database.

The digital publicity stunt, backed up with a video message from Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer, has boosted the number of Burberry fans on the social networking site by 500,000 in a week.

“You have to be totally connected to anyone who touches your brand,” said Angela Ahrendts, Burberry’s chief executive, addressing the audience at the conference in San Francisco on Wednesday. “If you don’t do that, I don’t know what your business model is in five years.”

A spokeswoman for Burberry conceded that the Facebook campaign was by no means a cheaper option than print, emphasizing the investment value of engaging more deeply with customers.

The brand has not abandoned traditional media. It has spent millions on making a TV advert, Burberry’s first, for the new fragrance, which will be broadcast in Asia, Europe and the US over the coming weeks. However, in a digital twist, its first airing will be on the brand’s dedicated YouTube channel. On the day of the launch, Burberry is paying an undisclosed sum to “take over” the YouTube homepage in 13 countries including Russia, Hong Kong and India, which it estimates will be seen by 60M viewers.