OOH Ad review: Burberry’s luxury out-of-home advertising

For this month’s ad review we take a look at the out-of-home advertising strategy of popular clothing brand Burberry.

This seems particularly relevant in light of this summer’s hot air balloon installation at Heathrow Airport.

burberry hot air balloon installation heathrow

Part of a pop-up store at Terminal 2, the display highlights the brand’s propensity to think big, and to bring a degree of high society flare to their creatives (the ad commemorates a 1908 ballooning long-distance in-flight record attained by a crew including Commodore Maitland, who had a penchant for Burberry suits.).

This bold campaign is just one part of a quite staggering array of international ad campaigns run by Burberry over recent years, many of them focusing on the out-of-home (OOH) environment.

They seem to have a mission to bring luxury to the masses, with a clear vision of providing “functional luxury”. They haven’t been afraid to offer prices that other luxury brands would look down their noses at, and they’re at home placing their ads on bus stops, in airports, shopping malls; anywhere, really, where the people are at.

But despite this pivot towards the great unwashed, they maintain a resolutely luxury iconography and creative design.

The fact that they broadcast live streams of catwalk fashion shows say it all really. They are a luxury brand unafraid to put their products out there; to the extent to which they launch unlikely initiatives like Burberry Acoustic; a series of live music performances exclusively for Burberry. And they’re willing to roll up their sleeves and engage with social media developments, signalled by the introduction of their first Snapchat lens in 2016. A luxury brand appealing to millennials? Who would have thought it?

But despite their use of new mediums, and modern marketing tactics, there’s something stylishly nostalgic about Burberry’s use of imagery.

They represent an embracing of contemporary culture, and at the same time a comforting escape from it.

They are classy, but also a tad risqué. It’s hard to tell if it’s a balancing act or a pushing of the envelope, but it’s certainly working, whatever it is.

This is not a brand that misses a trick, and they don’t have a romanticised fixation with branching out from the traditional luxury audience, far from it.

New York’s JFK airport is a prime location to reach out to a cosmopolitan, affluent and fashion-conscious audience. Burberry’s 2012 campaign saw a gigantic, road-spanning banner welcoming jetsetters to the Big Apple. This is a brand not afraid to do scale.

This is also a brand that knows that, for the luxury market in particular, airports are essential sites for out-of-home ads.

Burberry’s practically hyperactive marketing is perhaps not surprising, given that this was a brand that went from being a struggling “ageing British icon” to a global luxury behemoth in just seven years, and managed to triple its sales in five.

A large part of this is Burberry’s decision to blur the lines between digital and offline, with their former CEO Angela Ahrendts remarking that walking into their flagship London store “is just like walking into our website.”

Current Burberry CEO Chris Bailey has also noted that the brand are as much content-focussed as they are fashion-focussed.

Whatever the exact formulation for their success it’s fair to say that when it comes to out-of-home marketing, Burberry are streets ahead of the competition.

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