Burberry: The Brand Storytelling Hero of 2016?

Thomas BurberryHere at Hoot, we’re always on the lookout for prime examples of great storytelling from both a B2B and B2C perspective, and one tale that caught our eye was that of Thomas Burberry. Released as a festive film in November, it’s not the film’s big names that captivated us – Domhnall Gleeson, Sienna Miller, Dominic West and Lily James all star whilst Academy Award winner Asif Kapadia directs – nor its stunning musical score that drew us to question whether Burberry was the brand storytelling hero of the past year.

After losing their way somewhat in the noughties with cheaper, more accessible products introduced in not quite the right way, the value of the brand has been questioned for more than a decade. However, thanks to this film we, and so many others, are viewing Burberry from a whole different perspective, with every second of this 3.35-minute video demonstrating just how stories have the power to change viewpoints.

The fall of a luxury brand

Pre-noughties the Burberry label was one luxury goods group that was coveted and very British, but with its trademark camel check becoming a recognised uniform for ‘chav culture’, the brand has since seen a sharp decline in sales, particularly on home turf.

The sales decline experienced some 12 years ago is still being felt today with the brand reportedly losing one third of its market value over the past 12 months. Whilst recent losses have been blamed on a ‘challenging external environment’, many of Burberry’s loyal followers have found that the brand hasn’t been quite the same since its connection with so-called ‘chavs’, but with a Burberry spokesperson noting that the now infamous check pattern appears on less than 10% of its clothing, this image has still been a difficult one to shake off.

How one short film could change things

Every year we see the battle of the Christmas ads go into overdrive, and this lavish short film certainly kick-started proceedings when it was released at the start of November, with viewers now calling for a feature length film to be made from the gripping trailer style campaign.

Thomas Burberry started the Burberry label in 1879 at the tender age of 21, with his first move creating the fabric gabardine, a material used in Burberry’s signature trench coats to this day. The Tale of Thomas Burberry, which officially celebrates the brand’s 160th anniversary, shows Thomas on the cusp of this invention, with a few other plotlines – a maturing romance, a love affair, a Polar adventurer’s journey into the unknown (Ernest Shackleton is actually a patron of Burberry) and even a bitter betrayal – sprinkled in for good measure. In what can only be described as a brief biopic, the campaign ticks one big storytelling box… it’s a tale worth telling.

Without giving too much away, this special short offers an inspiring glimpse into the spirit and vision that the brand is aiming to uphold today. Sorry John Lewis but we think for brand bravery and creative courage you were pipped at the post this Christmas!