24 November 2008

It's about face: has David Jones given Miranda Kerr the flick?

Has Miranda Kerr, the new face of Australia’s oldest department store brand David Jones (DJs) been quietly replaced? So what happens when you realise your brand face doesn’t quite match the company it keeps?

Earlier this year DJs face supermodel Megan Gale stepped aside for lesser mortal and fellow model Kerr to be annoited the new face of DJs brand. Kerr did figure prominently in DJs Summer 2008 launch but since then has been a negligible presence in its national advertising and promotion.

DJs originally hired New York based Kerr to replace Gale on the catwalk for its bi-annual season collection launches in February and August as well as be its face in catalogues and advertising campaigns. Gale, it said, would continue in the lesser brand ambassador role.

But it’s Gale not Kerr who figures prominently in DJs major media campaigns, dominates its online presence and is widely featured in a national launch of a new American Express branded store card.

During the April baton change DJs pointedly said customers would undoubtedly embrace Brisbane born Kerr’s “warm and engaging nature." A direct link was made to her “Australian attributes”, describing her as a “ natural beauty with great sense of humour, a down-to-earth attitude and a love for Australia”.

Brushing away criticism Kerr was an unknown, DJs CEO Mark McInnes said her personality type could easily represent the brand, describing her as fashionable, approachable and aspirational.

“We want fun, fashionable and aspiring women representing our brand who are definitely not the Lindsay Lohans of the world," McInnes decried.

Yet, like Lancome’s sacking of Isabella Rosellini, L’Oreal telling Natalie Imbruglia she was no longer “worth it” and Versace’s disastrous hire of Madonna in 2005, doing good face doesn’t necessarily translate to sales if the fit isn’t right.

Kerr seemed to me to come across as neither a sophisticate nor particularly alluring in the Summer 2008 campaign; her self consciousness almost like that of a gawky teenager. More Hannah Montana than Lindsay Lohan.

Rather than adding to DJ’s brand equity and increasing it’s appeal, Kerr appears to have done neither.

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