Furniture, something that is common for everyone to have in their house and things that are necessary for living which started from the past centuries. By having the advancement of technology, the sense of fashion, the feeling of style, the furniture industries have to improved themselves to be more attractive and produce various options to their customers year after year. However, there are many brands that are selling furniture nowadays which offer more varieties for customers to choose while it has created a strong competition between the brands. Therefore, to be a successful brand, a strong advertising is an important platform to deliver the message of a brand, where it includes the brand image, brand strategy and brand proposition to make it stand out among the other brands. The most common advertising materials are print ads and TV (video) ads, therefore, the copywriter and art director have the responsibility to present the message more powerful and unforgettable.
Our Client: Barker and Stonehouse
A brief was assigned by Barker and Stonehouse with requesting a new proposition represented in a launched campaign. ‘Is your house a Barker & Stonehouse?’ is an effective strapline of the brand and has been there for 26 years. Barker and Stonehouse is the largest independent family-run furniture retailer and online store in the UK and it is well known for its high-quality furniture for over 65 years (Barkerandstonehouse.co.uk. (n.d.). It includes ten stores, high standards of customer services which are online live chat system, sales, ordering and delivery, logistics and stock management. The price of Barker and Stonehouse’s furniture is slightly pricey due to the high-quality materials that used to make furniture.
The Barker and Stonehouse’s target market can be defined as high-income individual or family who own high-quality lifestyle. They should be from around the end of Baby Boomers (1960) to the early of Millennials (1980) which is age 37 to 57 who have the spending power to own the luxurious lifestyle they aspired (Danziger, 2015). They are working parent family with children under age of 15 and have a household income after-tax income of about £60,900; an individual with an income after tax of about £40,000 (Lambert, 2017). There is a strong relationship between education, income, and wealth (Wolla and Sullivan, 2017). With a stable high income, most of the target markets are well-educated people that at least have a degree level, having a stable job to secure their income. High income makes saving easier and it can become a way to build wealth because for those who are well-educated are more discipline to make financial decisions in purchasing and they are willing to spend more on their luxury desire if they want to.
Therefore, writing to the target market should understand how strong is their desire of having an eclectic mix of high-quality furniture at a higher price. Based on the research, the target group are clever enough to make their own purchasing decision when they are affordable to have luxury things but in the meantime, they will make some savings for their future.
According to the past video adverts that made by Barker & Stonehouse, the copywriters had focused more on the sale price and play with the rhyme which makes the script unforgettable. For example, based on the latest winter sales advert 2017 on Youtube, the copy says:
“Is acquisition your favourite vice,
especially when they’ve pruned the price”
“To all those lovely things you see,
beguiled you saying: Hey pick me!”
The copy is in the direction of humour, relax and with a little bit naughty sense, and comes along with a mature-naughty voiceover that’s created a memorable rhythm. By having the understanding of target market purchasing decision, the copy used ‘acquisition’ as a tactic to attract customers to view their products which conduct a series of furniture. In psychological perspective, it could link to ‘collection behaviour’ when there is more towards to people who are affordable to own or collect something they desire. Collection behaviour can be identified as a person who is prompted to collect a series of similar objects (McIntosh & Schmeichel, 2004, p.86). Therefore, the copy presents the hidden meaning of collection and then comes along with the discounted price. As mentioned before, target group are tending to save money for building wealth, so, the copywriter has included the discount items into the advert. For example, the voiceover in the video first introduces the material and the name of the furniture, then announced the deal together with the rhyme on each of the end of the sentence such as:
“Chesterfield Renato sofa in velvet, now only £899;
Or the unique oak red Maya dining table, now only £1,299.”
The pronunciation: ‘nine, nine’ is the catchiest part in the video ads due to the tone of speaking it. Not every furniture has the same discount price ended with ’99’ but the copywriter has chosen two out of many furniture with the best deal that includes the same price number at the end of two digits. This could relate to a strategy called pricing strategy. Most of the retailers must choose a right strategy to persuade the customers to buy their products, so, psychological pricing has applied in this brand marketing strategy. Psychological pricing is trying to influence the perception of the customer of making the product’s price more attractive (Pride & Ferrell, 2008, p.593). It is actually creating an illusion for customers, because when the prices ending in £0.99, it gives an illusion to customers that they are spending less (Kaser & Oelkers, 2007, p.238). In the video, it shows the visual of the original price as a compare method for the discount price. It is called reference pricing, which means showing the price of a product at a moderate level and displaying it next to a more expensive price (Pride & Ferrell, 2008, p.593). It could make customer thinking they have earned some savings on their purchasing. Therefore, the copywriter decided to let the voiceover only mentioned discount price which is an action to reinforce the message again with catchy rhyme.
Needs or Wants (Economic perspective)
As previously mentioned, Barker and Stonehouse is well-known for its eclectic mix of high-quality furniture with a pricey price. Its target market would be people who earned high-income and affordable to purchase luxury products for more comfortable purpose. However, one of the strong competitor, Ikea also offer affordable products to their customers but at a cheaper price. So, the brand drives their customer to live in high-quality lifestyle by reinforcing their high-quality furniture. In the economic perspective, the type of furniture of these two brands, Ikea and Barker and Stonehouse could be separate into two segment which is ‘needs and wants.’ There is a difference between needs and wants: ‘needs’ is a true requirement, a must to have, whereas wants is a feeling on requirements, something that a person would like to have (Leiss, 1976, p.61).
Humans need shelter, with chairs and table, bed and sofa, but it is not necessary to have high-quality material for all of that. For example, if someone would like to purchase a furniture just for their needs, they would have just proceeded with Ikea shopping as it is more affordable, whereas if someone would like to replace their furniture to a better one, they would consider a better quality and branded furniture when they are able to afford. Based on the scripts in 2016 and 2017 winter video adverts, they shared the same copy at the end of the video such as:
2016: “Exercising your taste, your charisma, your nouns. Is your house a Barker and Stonehouse?”
2017: “Are you ready for new and different wows? Is your house a Barker and Stonehouse?”
Copywriters are well aware of the strength and weakness of the brand thus the copies were more towards in encouraging customers to try something new and telling them is time to change their old furniture into a brand new, stylish and trendy one. The script ended with the brand’s strapline which is questioning and reminding the viewer and make them think: Is my house a Barker and Stonehouse?
Based on the task that set by the client, I decided to bring back the print ad as a medium to spread the message of the brand. Barker and Stonehouse is more focusing on video ads in these few years where they seem to forget their first advertisement initially was a print ad that created by Frank Barker, one of the original directors and he produced lots of great copies (Barkerandstonehouse.co.uk, n.d.). Back in the days, the advertisement has created a huge difference after it went out to the market and it successfully to put the brand into the consciousness of customers and created highly memorable. Therefore, I decided to create outdoor print advertising with a strong and memorable message to attract customer once again. Below is one of the print ad (Figure 1):
The concept behind is using a house model to represent a ‘house’, which is meant to link it to the strapline, ‘Is your house a Barker and Stonehouse?’ It could seem like an empty house at first, but then it fills up with the furniture of the brand, thus the campaign name could call ‘Fill-up your house’. The word ‘fill-up’ is kind of relates to the collection behaviour as mentioned before because it is asking someone to fill up their house with the furniture from Barker and Stonehouse. On the body copy, I decided to use a simple and short sentence to describe the message because I was expecting it to be on the billboard where the person who might be viewing it is drivers. Therefore, a short and clean body copy would able to deliver the message in the most effective and safe way. Robert Browning, a poet once said: “Less is more”, which means that sometimes doing less will have a more powerful effect (Important India, 2016). Based on the research, most of the target market is still working to have high-income, thus, they might be driving a car or take a bus to go back home. In the copy, I say:
“The best and high-quality furniture you will enjoy after a long tiring day.”
which I put myself in their shoes with showing the understanding of working adults feel tired after whole day work and home will be the best place to relax. Albert Einstein once quoted: ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough’ (Friedman, 2010, p.211). It is simple and straightforward by telling the target market that Barker and Stonehouse’s furniture can give you the best comfortable furniture. Therefore, the body copy ended with ‘Just relax.’
Furthermore, the second print ad (figure 2) shows the same copy but the different visual. The meaning of the visual is also linked to collection behaviour but is more towards on problem-solving. Based on the research of UMPC Health Beat, playing puzzle have built cognitive skills, physical skills and emotional skills (Neurosurgery, 2016). The rules of solving a puzzle are by selecting the correct pieces and put it into the correct spaces. If someone is planning to buy furniture for their new house, the Barker & Stonehouse’s furniture will be the correct pieces for them to fill up their empty house which this has perfectly matched the strapline, and the headline of the print ad as well. There’s lots of different design of furniture, Barker & Stonehouse will provide customers with the most suitable furniture with the most desirable design that people will feel that it is what they want. Just like the puzzle, there are plenty pieces of puzzles with almost the same colour, but at the end, people will find the correct piece of the puzzle that fits a particular space.
Throughout the journey of creating a brand new advertisement piece for the client, having a research of the brand itself in marketing field is inevitable. Research enables a better understanding of the brand position in the market, and who are they targeting because the job of a copywriter is to create and distribute catchy headlines that can build brand identity, benefits the readers and persuade customers to purchase the mentioned product or service. As a copywriter, we also need to understand the use of the language of the target market so we could deliver the message effectively. “Creativity doesn’t come out of thin air,” says Keeney (2009). Only once the copywriter has discovered the right audience to talk to, then begin to write persuasive and compelling copy.