Susan Browne has a somewhat infectious chuckle and I’m laughing along with her as she reminds me of the old chestnut about how a retailer always blames the weather for poor sales. Too nice of a day to be out shopping and all of that malarkey.
“Lets just say we get it right more than we get it wrong,” says Susan with an understatement that suggests they get it very right indeed.
Susan has worked on the Briscoes account for nearly nine years. And that’s advertising years which are like dog years except longer.
She now leads the Briscoes team at Stanley St, the company that, under various names, has done the Briscoes advertising for nearly 30 years, easily making it one of the most successful business relationships in an often fickle industry. Or any industry for that matter.
Trying to work out how many One Day Sales in 30 years will do your head in, but it’s a concept that the agency helped the client launch back in the day. Way back in the day.
“They quickly needed the cash to pay their staff,” recounts Susan explaining the history of what in fact has become the promotional model at the heart of the $400 million dollar a year homewares business.
“It was back when Rod had just bought the business, and was in the process of turning it around, so that was how the famous ‘One Day Sale’ was born,” adds Susan laughing as she goes on to describe the famous Two Day Sale. But wait, there’s more.
It’s a great story that illustrates the strength of the partnership between Briscoes and their advertising team which is in fact a separate agency within an agency.
“It’s hard to find the line between agency and client sometimes. They have a desk in here, we deal direct with their buyers,” she says, adding: “You know, you could probably only do it with an integrated way of working where media and creative sit side by side.”
It’s a model that certainly works like a wheel, allowing Briscoes to drive their well oiled machine with a marketing department of only three, again something unheard of for a retailer of their size.
‘What’s the secret?’ Seems like an obvious question to ask about now “Creativity,” says Susan straight off the bat and without a trace of irony. Excuse me? I can’t be the first person not to instantly connect the dots between Briscoes ads and creativity.
“No, seriously,” she adds, resolute. “Look viewers aren’t dumb, they know there’ll be another One Day Sale next week, that’s hardly a big secret.”
Again with the understatement. “So how do you make the offer compelling enough to get them in this week? That’s the trick, and that’s an enormous creative challenge.”
It’s a point that is incredibly hard to argue with, made all the more difficult when the formula is a large part of the reason the Briscoe Group has delivered year on year growth for every year they’ve been with the agency. But what happens when it all goes skew whiff, so to speak?
“Sometimes stuff just doesn’t work. But everyone does the analysis together, could be a lotto jackpot that weekend, the ratings could’ve died in the bum so there’s no reach, there’s so many different factors in play,” explains Susan.
And what if it’s something else? “Oh, that’s when we blame the weather,” says Susan, laughing.
Susan is one of the 150 new owners of Stanley St.
Stanley St. Open, for business.
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