- L.L. Bean, the 105-year-old outdoor apparel retailer, is undergoing a major rebranding to transition from a heritage brand in print catalogs to a more modern and cohesive product company, according to a report Ad Age.
- This week, the retailer is launching a new website and a digital push around its "Be an Outsider" campaign, followed by three TV spots starting July 24. The company hired Maine-based Via Agency last year to lead L.L. Bean's creative strategy as it shifts away from traditional direct mail print marketing toward digital and TV channels. The company's run just a few TV spots in the past, but plans to air 12 by the end of 2017.
- The brand will spend 2x as much on back-to-school advertising this year, Ad Age reported, but the exact amount is unclear. Last year, Kantar Media reported that L.L. Bean spent $1.9 million in July through September on measured media, and $14.6 million for all of 2016.
L.L. Bean's frequent mailers along with its massive seasonal catalogs are well known to its customers, but direct mail on that scale can be costly, so it's no surprise the brand is ramping up its digital efforts to reach a broader audience and improve its ROI. L.L. Bean remains a leader in the outdoor apparel market but has become a fragmented brand over time. As the team looks to expand its digital and TV presence, marketing plans also include new in-store experiences and print marketing.
The "Be an Outsider" campaign includes one spot that features kids leaving school on their bikes and examining rocks as part of a homework assignment. The tone of the spot moves away from the extreme sports focus of many outdoor brands. This strategy will likely differentiate the brand from top competitors like REI and Lands' End, and make it more accessible to a wider array of consumers.
L.L. Bean is not the only legacy catalog company that has transitioned away from print materials to a digital focus. Home goods retailer Williams-Sonoma adjusted its marketing budget away from catalogs and store-based marketing efforts in response to growth in digital channels. There are challenges that arise from dramatic strategy overhauls, including internal hurdles to implementing new marketing tactics, but the shift also creates new opportunities to reach a brand's audience at multiple price points through organic outreach.