Address: Universal House, Devonshire Street, Manchester
Date of birth: 1917
Marital status: Single, with a long list of dependants
Background: The pounds 5.3bn GUS group was founded by brothers George,
Jack and Abraham Rose in Manchester in 1917. Not the sexiest of
companies, GUS is a major force in the mail-order market, owning the
Kays and Great Universal catalogues, as well as Argos. It also owns the
fabulously naff mail-order business Innovations.
However, the group has been working hard to jazz up its
cloth-cap-and-whippet image. It recently oversaw a spectacular relaunch of Burberry, which it has owned since the 50s. The famous check is no longer confined to the Badminton horse trials, and is now the brand of choice for fashionistas like the Appleton sisters. The relaunch has been so successful that GUS is planning a pounds 1bn-plus partial flotation of Burberry next year.
GUS recently reorganised itself into four main divisions. Its retail
business - including Argos, Kays, Great Universal and Jungle.com - is
now under the umbrella of the Argos Retail Group. Experian, its
information database and credit-checking business, and fashion house
Burberry are separate units. The fourth is Reality, its e-commerce and
logistics services provider.
GUS recently handed Optimedia the Reality planning and buying account.
Contact number for GUS 0161-273 8282.
Marketers and major brands: Paul Geddes is marketing director for Argos;
Clive Briscoe is marketing director for the catalogue brands; Steve
Johnson is marketing director for Reality; and Damiana Foscari is
marketing manager for Burberry.
Media agency and account manager: MindShare holds the Argos account,
where communications director Rosie Faulkner is in charge. MediaCom
looks after Burberry and Lisa Petchey is account director. Optimedia's
Rob Day will take charge of Reality, with managing partner Greg
Turzynski taking board-level responsibility.
Annual media spend: Reality's spend is expected to be pounds 4m to
pounds 6m a year. Argos has an adspend of around pounds 12m, and
Burberry's budget in the UK is pounds 1.5m.
Media used: As a provider of web infrastructure for business customers,
Reality's forthcoming advertising will be entirely b2b. As well as its
high-energy TV campaign, Argos is also an enthusiastic user of
new-media, running an interactive game-ad on NTL's digital cable service. Having recently launched a loyalty card, Argos can also be expected to use the data to invest more in direct mail. Burberry mainly uses glossy press ads, featuring models like Kate Moss.