Mark’s gets casual in new campaign

September 26, 2012  |  Russ Martin  |  Comments

Mark’s launched the latest campaign in a series of re-branding efforts that aim to capture new market share in the casual clothing and the lifestyle sector.

The campaign, which includes TV spots, transit ads and out-of-home by MacLaren McCann, began Tuesday and positions Mark’s as a fashion-focused retailer. Wendy Bennison, Mark’s vice-president of operations, said it is an extension of the re-branding efforts the company began in the spring of 2010 when it dropped its full name, Mark’s Work Warehouse, for the new moniker.

After testing the shortened Mark’s name and a new store design in Edmonton in 2008, it re-branded 29 stores in Ottawa, Edmonton and Winnipeg in 2010. Last year it moved on to Calgary, where the company is based, completing the process at every location in the city. Now the roll-out has made its way to 60 locations in Ontario.

Bennison said Mark’s released the ad campaign during the Ontario re-branding as it’s now prepared to communicate the new positioning on the national level. “We had to test the idea before we rolled it out,” she said.

Bennison said this is the largest campaign the company has released under its new Mark’s brand. “We’re taking over the market with this new Mark’s message,” she said. “Many consumers don’t understand the offering. We are not the ‘work warehouse’ store you think we are. We are much more than that.”

Through the long process of re-designing its stores across Canada, Mark’s tested and tweaked its messaging, changing, for example, the 2010 tagline from ‘Clothes That Work,’ to the current one, ‘Smart Clothes. Everyday Living.’ Bennison said the retailer took the slow approach to the re-brand in order to ensure it wasn’t alienating its long-time customers.

“Workwear is a highly valued part of our business,” she said. “That heritage is critically important. We’ve been sensitive to monitor and track our heritage business.”

To celebrate the launch, Mark’s enlisted its PR agency, High Road Communications, for a launch at its Eaton Centre location. In order to attract lifestyle press it had Brad Goreski, a Canadian celebrity stylist and the star of Bravo’s It’s A Brad, Brad World, on hand to act as a spokesperson and to style three looks using Mark’s garments.

Goreski, who grew up in Port Perry, said his initial image of the Mark’s customer was a burly outdoorsman. “My perception of the Mark’s brand was clothes that my dad wore when he was outside chopping wood. Workwear clothes. Practical clothes that kept you warm in the winter,” he said.

However, Goreski said it now sells a more fashion-focused offering. “The men’s clothes, especially, reflect what’s happening in fashion right now, with button-down flannels, oxford shirts. But they’ve still incorporated their innovative technologies that Mark’s Work Warehouse was known for,” he said, citing no-wrinkle and sweat-proof shirts as examples.

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