Casual Male Targets ‘Generation XL’

NEW YORK In the 1986 movie Back to School, Rodney Dangerfield played the owner of a big-and-tall shop called Thornton Mellon’s Tall and Fat Stores, whose TV ads asked, “Are you fat? When you go jogging, do you leave potholes?”

Casual Male Retail Group in Canton, Mass., is taking the opposite approach. The 496-store chain, which has built its business by clothing the big and tall man, isn’t even using those words anymore, since they have negative connotations.

Instead, the chain has dubbed the customer “Generation XL,” which is the theme of a new campaign and redesigned logo launching this week. The new ads, which will run through Father’s Day, are part of a comprehensive rebranding effort.

The plan also calls for targeting younger males on the smaller end of the big-and-tall scale with fashionable apparel. The ads, created in-house and produced by Cramer in Norwood, Mass., take place in everyday locations (such as the basketball court, the singles scene and the workplace). The tagline reads, “Why be average when you can be XL!”

Ric Della Bernarda, svp of marketing, said the new positioning is designed to emphasize the best aspects of being large. “We wanted to create an ad that supports the positive aspects of being big and tall and enhance our brand position,” he said. “The term XL is becoming synonymous with strength, power and leadership.”

The rollout marks the final phase of a turnaround strategy for the retailer, which was bought out of bankruptcy in 2002 by Designs Inc.

The big-and-tall market apparel accounts for $6 billion in sales and includes 11-15 percent of the population, according to figures cited by Della Bernarda.