Analysis: Pandora and Girls Aloud partnership

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Professional Jeweller asks what the collaboration means for retailers.

Last month Pandora revealed a partnership with pop group Girls Aloud as the band reformed for its 10th anniversary tour. Professional Jeweller finds out what the collaboration with mean for retailers and the brand in the UK.

Earlier this year a hush-hush meeting took place between Pandora and its UK retailers. The subject of these meetings was a fresh collaboration for the brand and one that would be announced with a bang during a press conference some weeks later.

The big reveal came on Friday October 19, when pop group Girls Aloud announced that they were reforming for a 10th anniversary tour in 2013, with Pandora named official sponsor. Furthermore, each one of the girls – Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh – had designed two Pandora bracelets, a starter bracelet and full charm bracelet, launched to coincide with the announcement. The deal marks the first major celebrity partnership for the brand in the UK, and a new route for Pandora with a view to its positioning in the UK market. The brand has long focused on its Unforgettable Moments tagline to tie into the gifting element of its jewellery, with stories featuring elegant couples, soft focus imagery and gentle colours, but the new tie-up with Girls Aloud places the brand in unchartered new territory.

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Peter Andersen, the president for Pandora in Western Europe, said at the time of the launch: “We are delighted to be working with Girls Aloud for their tour. For us they are the perfect band to support. They appeal to a wide family audience, most notably the female demographic, which is key for us.”

With the celebrity tie-in a first for the brand in the UK, Andersen says he hopes will the brand will capitalise on the excitement of the reunion – and collection launch – through activities and online marketing by its retail partners.

But how has the link up fared with the buying public, and Pandora’s online community? On Pandora’s Facebook page, home to more than 1.5 million likes from fans of the brand, the announcement was posted featuring an image of Girls Aloud wearing their Pandora bracelets and carrying with it the news that Pandora would be sponsoring the group’s Hits Tour 2013, and so will offer Pandora Club members access to tour tickets 48 hours before general release and all those signing up will be entered into a draw to meet the band and win one of the bracelets.

While immediate response was perhaps not as positive as the brand might have hoped – one Facebook user wrote “No, what has Girls Aloud got to do with Pandora?” – the post received almost 130 likes and was shared across the social media site as well as on Twitter, where the brand posted photographs of the bracelets, running with the hash tag #ILOVEPANDORA, winning it hundreds of re-Tweets.

For UK retailers of Pandora, the Girls Aloud collaboration was something they had to keep under wraps until the official announcement was made. But while they were waiting for the green light, savvy Pandora stockists had been busy planning events and marketing campaigns. For John Greed, managing director of John Green jewellers in Lincoln, a key online account for the brand, preparations began at the end of the summer.

“I was invited to a partners meeting in mid September at Pandora’s HQ in London,” explains Greed. “I immediately started work on analysing the bracelets from a stock point of view to see what we might have to order against what we already had in stock.” The retailer also lined up an email mail out and after the announcement ran posts on Facebook about the launch, which reached about 500,000 consumers.

Edward Ferris of retail group T & E Ferris, which runs 17 Pandora concept stores and six Swag stores selling Pandora, says a lot of time was spent planning maximum exposure following the announcement. “We worked a lot on preparing the sales team for spreading the story once it broke as well as our social media and online communication,” he explains.

In the West Midlands, retailer T. A. Henn says the partnership was only revealed to them about two weeks before the launch at a surprise meeting. Magali Henn, marketing director at T.A. Henn, said the news was a positive. “The room was really quiet when Pandora announced their plans but we were secretly all very pleased to hear the news,” she says.

So aside from spreading the word through customer bases, what deeper preperations did Pandora retailers make for the launch? At John Greed, aside from preparations with a view to stock, plans were set to ensuring that its website SEO and key words were in order to maximise hits through online searches. “I worked on an online marketing strategy to get us high up on Google’s natural search results as possible,” Greed explains.

While this can involve, in Greed’s own words, tricks and excellent timing, it ensured the retailer was the highest ranking with a view to the collection, at the time that Professional Jeweller went to press with the November issue.

For T & E Ferris and its Pandora and Swag stores, a special event to celebrate the partnership will take place this month, while T.A. Henn says it will run social media campaigns. “I think this is a very good move from Pandora [as] the charm market needed a boost,” says Henn.

The social media element appears to be an important tool for the marketing of new launches, no matter the brand or theme, and appears to be all the more relevant in this case, with Girls Aloud wearing the bracelets in the video for their comeback single, Something New.The brand has also commissioned five short films in which the group talk about their own “unforgettable moments”, referring to poignant occasions with their families and special memories. Some of these moments have been directly translated into the bracelet designs. Cheryl Cole, for example, notes her performance at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee earlier this summer as one such moment, adding a silver crown charm to her design.

To date, Pandora has enjoyed a two-year partnership with Glamour magazine, sponsoring the annual Glamour Awards and featuring heavily in its fashion pages and shoots. While the brand would not comment as to whether it will continue to work with Glamour during the high-profile Girls Aloud campaign, the campaign is sure to last until the end of March next year when the final Girls Aloud tour dates are wrapped up.

Despite a generally positive reception, some retailers have raised concerns about the range. One official stockist, who did not want to be named, said it had concerns about the pricing structure that puts the bracelets out of reach of many gifting budgets – the starter bracelets retail for £99 but full bracelets range between £199 and £1,100 – and also deeper concerns that Girls Aloud are not the right fit for the brand. The uncertainty, it would seem, boils down to confusion over who the brand is trying to target with concerns that the band, which has been out of the charts for a number of years, does not carry influence with teenagers, while older girls who have grown up with the band will not necesarily feel the need to copy the stars’ style so directly.

Despite this, no other jewellery brand has scored quite as high-profile a marketing coup as Pandora. While celebrity partnerships are the norm for watch brands, it is rare for jewellery brands to work so closely with such well-known personalities.

Pandora has had its share of outstanding successes and difficulties in the UK market and opinion about the brand is still widely split. But one thing is for certain: the column inches, the exposure and the new audience that Girls Aloud can bring to the brand could well land it an unforgettable moment.

 

Girls Out Loud: The band’s View
“We are so excited to be working on this partnership with Pandora. We loved building our bracelets and sharing our stories and unforgettable moments. Pandora is so versatile and allows you to create something unique and personal to you; our five bracelets reflect our different styles and personalities. We are really looking forward to going back on tour and meeting the lucky Pandora club members too.”

 

All I want for Christmas
As with any high-profile campaign, timing is of the essence. For Pandora, this new collection and partnership has arrived just in time for Christmas. Do retailers think it will be a winner this festive season? “Undoubtedly, a lot of people, especially men, like to buy a completed Pandora bracelets as a Christmas presents for their partner,” says John Greed. “If their partners like Girls Aloud then these bracelets will be perfect for them, job done.” Magali Henn concurs. “I am confident good business will be generated in the run up to Christmas thanks to this exclusive collection. Girls Aloud composing their own bracelet is a great idea and the outcome is a very saleable concept.”

 

The Social Media Split
In the era of social media, the announcement of Pandora and Girls Aloud teaming up was online immediately and reactions from consumers were fast and varied, with some excited about the collaboration and others sceptical about where the brand was positioning itself. These comments were taken from Twitter and Pandora’s Facebook fan page.
“Not sure some of these girls really represent the image I’d want! But ho-hum!”
“Brilliant tie-up! Love Nicola’s!!”
“No way!!! No need!! Why would Pandora want to lower their image?”
“My daughters would love this”
“This is a great way to get Pandora’s name and brand out to a whole new audience! Clever piece of marketing and like the designs”
“£1100 Kimberley? She can’t even afford that.”
“The girls aloud limited edition Pandora’s are lush! Cheryl’s is the nicest”

This article was taken from the November 2012 issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue online, click here.

 

 

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