Burlington Coat Factory Goes Back to School With Style

Burlington Coat Factory is pulling back the curtain to show how its shoppers select merchandise, starting with a back-to-school campaign that breaks on TV this week.

The effort is the first phase of Burlington’s “Great minds shop alike” initiative, which aims to convince consumers that if they shop at its stores they’re not scouting for leftovers and out of season clothing; but instead, they’re chasing after the latest trends and must-have fashions.

“That idea is subtly being used in the back-to-school [ads],” said Garry Graham, Burlington’s evp-marketing. “It will be more forcefully used as we go through our September ads, which is fall fashion and all about having the trend-right merchandise in stores. Then our October TV will be built around famous labels in the stores.” Those ads will disclose Burlington’s process of delivering merchandise at lower prices, Graham added.

Among the first work from new agency Cramer-Krasselt, New York, is a spot targeting teens. It opens with a “Burlington teen clothes buyer,” portrayed as an animated sketch of a trendy female. “While you were on vacation this summer, I was doing my homework,” she says as a montage ensues featuring kids modeling clothes from Romeo & Juliet Couture, Red Snap, Avirex and other brands. “I did it for one very important reason,” she says, “So you don’t look like a dork this year.”

Another spot speaks to moms, this time featuring an animation of a “Burlington kids clothes buyer” who traveled the world searching for popular looks at affordable prices. “You’re happy; they’re happy. Seriously, how often does that happen,” she says. All 15- and 30-second spots conclude with voiceover stating that Burlington has the latest looks for up to 60% less than department stores.

Print, in-store, radio, FSIs and direct mail also support. This year’s advertising budget will be bigger than last year’s due partly to a more expensive upfront for TV buys, per Burlington. The company spent $60 million on U.S. media last year (excluding online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Burlington is attempting to stake out a position between off-price retailers and traditional department stores. Its stores are at least twice the size of retailers like TJ Maxx, Ross and Marshall’s, while its clothes are cheaper compared to Sears, J.C. Penney or Dillard’s.

“We never latched on to a way to position ourselves that way before,” said Graham. “We’re usually compared in the same pool as other off-pricers, however research showed that consumers perceive us as a department store because of our presentation of merchandise, our selection, and how we buy and distribute the merchandise to our stores, which is different than TJ Maxx, Ross and Marshall’s.”