Apr 4, 2014
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Unibail-Rodamco launches major European ad campaign

Apr 4, 2014

It is a first for Unibail-Rodamco, the French commercial property developer and management company whose portfolio includes the likes of Quatre Temps at La Défense, Paris, La Toison d'Or in Dijon, Arkadia in Warsaw, Täby Centrum in Stockholm, La Maquinista in Barcelona, etc. And it is probably a first for a shopping center company, the launch of a Europe-wide ad campaign.

The initiative already kicked off April 1 in Sweden, the Czech Republic and Spain. April 8 is the launch date for France. The campaign does not involve all of Unibail-Rodamco's shopping centers but rather 26 locations considered to be the best examples of the new message the company wants to communicate. The fun of shopping and shopping centers of the four star category, that is what Unibail Rodamco is touting. These shopping centers are located in 6 countries and 13 national and regional capitals.

To facilitate an understanding across Europe, the slogan, which had to be unique, is in English: Unexpected Shopping. For Clementine Piazza, director of marketing for the Unibail-Rodamco group, the slogan was put to the test, including some big ones (it was used for the launch of the Aéroville shopping center outside of Paris, ed.). Feedback did not indicate that the tagline caused confusion among shoppers.

"They identified the slogan as being about surprise, something exceptional," she says, "to the point where that French translation seemed flatter." Obviously the use of English in places like Sweden was less of a problem.

But the slogan is actually only one element of a campaign that is bold in many other regards. For example, it aims to reach shopping-center customers of all types — obviously women, usually the focus of mall campaigns, but also men, children, teens, seniors and families.

The campaign also uses a variety of poster images to depict the shopping centers' many retail sectors: fashion, of course, beauty, the home, but also leisure, restaurants, entertainment, premium services, etc.

Unibail-Rodamco even managed to convince retailers to participate in the campaign, mainly by "lending" their name to images created just for the brands that somehow blend in with the overall message. Clementine Piazza pointedly explains: "They have not paid anything, they are lending us their image."

To create the campaign technically and physically, the ad agency behind the campaign, BETC, was aggressive in putting together a strong team of fashion stylists directed by Clémence Cahu; food stylists led by Delphine de Montalier; and the work of two renowned photographers, Gregory Alexander and Cedric Viollet. The "Unexpected Shopping" campaign required 350 hours of photo sessions that involved 29 models and produced 97 images.

The outcome, says BETC, is a campaign divided along two concepts. The one side consists of two-part images, all with a model and an object that visually relate to one another.

The other part involves images based on sentences, on words that mention premium services, exclusive events, premier openings — all in a catchy and humorous tone.

To get to the final result, the texts were first created in French, translated into English and then into the local language — certainly not an easy method for keeping it all catchy.

In any case, for this unusual undertaking, Unibail-Rodamco is sparing no expense in its ad buy. The company is planning more than 2,500 billboards and outdoor posters and 70 ads in the European press, a full signage campaign on the tram system in Prague as well as in the Plaça Catalunya subway station in Barcelona. For the seven shopping centers in Paris’s surrounding Ile de France region, the campaign includes: 430 billboards along the Paris Périphérique ring starting April 21; a 12-page advertorial in Elle Magazine; an A1-format poster (21 in. x 33 in.) in nearly 300,000 issues of Grazia, Madame Figaro, Marie Claire and La Parisienne (starting April 4); and a direct-mailing of 400,000 A1-format posters in nearby residential areas.

To finance such a campaign, Unibail-Rodamco somehow manged to merge the budgets of the shopping centers themselves. According Clementine Piazza, the creative budget is 750,000 euros and the media budget is 5 million euros.

For Jean-Marie Tritant, CEO of Unibail-Rodamco, the campaign simply intends to show that the company's shopping centers are exceptional destinations, offering an experience that goes beyond shopping — even if it’s obvious that the goal is for visitors to make a purchase, too.

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