French Connection – Lost in translation

by Katie on May 4, 2010

May I just say from the start, I really like French Connection. Always have.

It’s somewhere that I regularly visit and most always buy at least one piece per season (even if I do think the brand straddles the pricier end of the high street for what it conveys and offers) and I certainly always shop sale. French Connection always has brilliant trouser cuts and a great use of colour and key shapes of the season but seems, these days, to be squeezed into submission by Zara, Reiss and even, dare I say it, All Saints.

Earlier in March 2010, the brand announced that it is to ditch the Nicole Farhi brand and taking is also taking the knife to its US chain as part of an overhaul to reverse its fortunes. The group is to concentrate on French Connection, Toast (a brilliant brand with huge opportunity) and Great Plains. Stephen Marks has been quoted as saying that recent collections, as well as a new more sophisticated advertising approach, were well received with womenswear. Well, folks, that’s what I’m here to discuss.

What French Connection seems to be, is a victim of its own design success. Many of it’s seasonal items are clearly identifiable as French Connection. That’s OK, you think. But not so easy to style up or down and make your own if it’s a print dress.

It’s also often a victim of volume and, as I’ve mentioned, price. ie. You know in the FC sale there’s always racks of the same style items? As a consumer, you’re likely to think, “I’d be really p’d off it I bought one of the more obvious styles at full price and how likely am I to spot someone else wearing the same thing?”.

So what is the brunt of my whinge this fine morning? Well, it’s the new Spring Summer campaign. Great photography in moody character filled black and white shots but the messaging…ugh!

Created by Fallon (London), the campaign targets men and women both separately and together depending upon the media. The campaign idea came from a need to talk to men and women in different ways. Really? It all seems pigeon English to me. It’s sounding like badly translated French perfume ads from the 1980’s:-

“The woman wears not trousers or blouse. But both in one.”
“It is nothing to do with you. It is only the dress we wish to see”.
“I think we must wait until the woman removes the garment”.
And, the frankly ridiculous, “This is the woman. She is knowing we are looking”.

Guys, what’s wrong with, “She knows that we’re watching her”. Or doesn’t that fit with the Gallic tinged aesthetic? The floral strapless dress featured also jars with the trench coat dénouement in the window image.

As a marketeer, I get that this is French inspired and characterful. I get that we, the consumers, are to act as voyeurs. I get that they are being evocative. I also get that they may even have used wonky English language French translations to evoke a foreign film noir feel. But really, does ordinary Joe Public get this? I suspect the campaign may well be lost in translation. French Connection may be attempting one step too arty far(ty) for their target audience. The product has to live up to the promise of the ad. Let’s see those sale racks in a month or so.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

kashif14763 June 30, 2010 at 1:36 am

Really very relavant artical with the topic it is good work.


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