Close Up: Global Brief - English classic gets updated - Richard Cook reveals how a small UK agency will be modernising Laura Ashley

Ever noticed how international agency networks are getting smaller these days? When Bean Andrews Norways Cramphorn won the Laura Ashley account, it did so by picking off the might of Ogilvy and Mather at the pitch stage.

Ever noticed how international agency networks are getting smaller

these days? When Bean Andrews Norways Cramphorn won the Laura Ashley

account, it did so by picking off the might of Ogilvy and Mather at the

pitch stage.



And it did this despite the fact that the first thrust of the new Laura

Ashley work was due to kick off in the US.



’I think the example of Bartle Bogle Hegarty has shown that

international business no longer has to be served by an international

agency network,’ says Robert Bean, a partner of BANC, ’as long as

everyone understands the difference between the originator of the

advertising on the one hand and the distribution on the other. And, of

course, as long as you have an enlightened client.’



Bean’s former agency, Bean MC, had a track record in this type of David

and Goliath relationship. Although smaller than his current agency, it

successfully handled a nine-nation European TV campaign for Velux Roof

Windows.



Laura Ashley, of course, is a brand with a rather different

heritage.



Now a true multinational with 500 shops across the globe, it had a

turnover last year of pounds 336.6 million. Bean’s challenge has been to

introduce the brand to new customers, without alienating women who have

grown up with it.



The result broke last week in magazines in the US, highlighting a new

strapline: ’If you think you knew Laura Ashley, think again.’ BANC chose

a US partner, Merkley Newman Harty, the New York-based Omnicom

subsidiary, to handle the local media planning and buying.



’The campaign’s all about making Laura Ashley seem more modern, relevant

and, dare I say it, more sexy,’ Bean says. ’Laura Ashley style is about

floral patterns and that will never go away, but we are taking the

opportunity to introduce some less fussy fabrics into this campaign.



’The perception of Laura Ashley is lagging behind reality and we hope to

change all that.’



If the campaign is well received in the US, BANC will take it around the

world into all Laura Ashley’s key markets.