When big brand marketing goes wrong...



Jack Wills, with its quintessential tagline of ‘Fabulously British’, is known for being a student-friendly premium-clothing brand. For many undergraduates, particularly those in the more affluent ‘Russell Group’ universities, their clothing line is synonymous with the sophisticated young-adult style many students aspire to. The brand offers a generous 10% discount to students on all full-price items and boasts ethical trade and corporate responsibility.

The Controversy

The brand has always marketed itself as a ‘British heritage-inspired wares of the highest quality to the wardrobes of a spirited and inspired youth, epitomising what it is to be British, irreverent and carefree’. Nevertheless, more recently, the brand has come under heavy scrutiny for its ‘sexually suggestive’, as quoted by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The advertisement itself depicts youngsters sitting in a leisurely manner on a couch whilst dressed in Jack Wills’ underwear. After the ban, the brand maintained that the advertisement was not sexually provocative and that the targeted audience was 18-24 year olds university students, not younger teenagers. Nevertheless, the media had already covered the issue extensively, and Jack Wills needed to reaffirm its brand value in order to restate its position and distance itself from the controversy. This is where "How to Style a Trench Coat" comes in.

 A New Take

Jack Wills revels on classic and timeless design. The addition of the trench coat to their collection builds itself around the institution of the attire itself. The trench coat is an iconic British design aimed at repelling the wet weather conditions of the UK. It possesses historical significance within the fashion industry as its creation dates back to the turn of the 19h century, first invented by Thomas Burberry, the founder of what is now the global British fashion house. By rejoicing in the allegory of the trench coat, Jack Wills gives students the opportunity to dress as elegantly as the Duchess of Cambridge herself. This swift and subtle marketing move is sure to not only keep the advertising watchdogs away, but also to be even more attractive to its clientele. Perhaps the brand may be treading onto territory that Burberry is known to have popularised, however, the brand appropriates this signature at a much more affordable price – a value which goes hand in hand with student living.

Introducing the trench coat was a tactful strategy in order for the brand to compensate for the discord. There are many clothing stores that cater to students, however none do it as well as Jack Wills. The reason for the brand’s superiority is based on the notion that the students who wear Jack Wills desire to look of a certain social class therefore distancing themselves from the common bad reputation of the student lifestyle. The bad reputation being that students are usually associated with excessive drinking and leisure-wear. A student’s desire to dress themselves in Jack Wills is a clear attempt at focusing, not only their outer appearance to the world, but more importantly their sense of inner maturity.


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