Will Burberry’s Big Spending Shift Become the Next Fashion Trend?

Big fashion brands often pay lip service to the importance of new media, but few have embraced it as wholeheartedly as Burberry. The Financial Times is reporting that the company is truly putting their money where their plaid-patterned mouth is by reducing their ad spend in print magazines to spend more online.

The company now allocates 60% of their marketing budget to digital media, which the Financial Times reports as 3x the market average. Considering the disparity between how much magazines make from ads, and how much the average blog makes from ads (hint: nowhere near as much as magazines with similar audience levels do), that’s a very significant shift. Granted, the focus of Burberry’s online efforts seem to be social media, but the shift is promising for digital publishers of all types. Part of the reason that online publishers can’t command the amount of money that print publishers do comes from the way budgets are allocated. If the advertising budget is comprised of 80% print ads, spread across 20 magazines, that leaves hundreds of blogs, social networks and various websites competing for the remaining 20%. You don’t have to be a star mathematician to understand the disadvantage that places online publishers at.

Print ads, in spite of the fact that they can’t be measured or tracked in any of the ways that online ads can, have long remained the holy grail for advertisers. Vogue has roped a few up and coming bloggers into their “Influencer” Network, Glamour is adding QR codes to certain ads and trying to increase interactivity, but these programs usually launch with 9 or 10 brands willing to try something different. And the remaining 200 or so ad pages are filled with companies who typically spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on an ad format that hasn’t changed in a century or so.

That’s not to say Burberry is abandoning all things traditional media: they aren’t. The upcoming Body fragrance, which launched on Facebook, will have accompanying television ads – but they’ll premiere on YouTube.

Even more notable is that the company admitted the Facebook campaign, which offered a free perfume sample to fans, wasn’t any less expensive than sticking a scented flap in a magazine. Judging by the numbers though, we’d have to say it seems that they’ve gotten more than their money’s worth.

Out of 500,000 new fans (the Burberry Facebook page currently has more than 8 million fans), 250,000 registered for a sample with “the majority” giving permission for Burberry to contact them in the future. We can’t think of any magazine that can deliver that.

Burberry has long been a bit of a maverick when it comes to how they promote themselves online, so it’s too early to call this an industry trend, but we like the direction they’re going in.

“You have to be totally connected to anyone who touches your brand. If you don’t do that, I don’t know what your business model is in five years.” – Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts

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