BBC America Shop Rules Britannia

The sun has set on the Britannia catalog. Having acquired the catalog from TargetDirect in August, New York-based BBC Worldwide Americas (parent company of BBC Direct) has merged it into its BBC America Shop title. Three weeks ago BBC America Shop mailed 600,000 copies of a 56-page catalog offering gifts and collectibles from Britannia as well as the videos and DVDs that have been BBC Direct’s stock in trade since it entered the catalog business in 2000.

About 20% of recipients of the new catalog are prospects, says Allison Haberman, senior director of BBC Direct. The catalog, with 500 products, offers nearly triple the amount of merchandise previously featured in BBC America Shop. Now English tea towels and reproduction candlestick phones are sold alongside tapes of British TV series such as “Fawlty Towers” and “The Office.”

“We were looking for the next big thing, and this enabled us to more than double our customer base,” Haberman says. “In addition, BBC as a whole is looking to increase brand awareness in the U.S.”

In the months following its purchase of the 17-year-old Britannia catalog, BBC Direct conducted an A/B split test of the Britannia brand against the BBC America Shop name, says Haberman. The BBC brand outperformed Britannia by a “significant” amount, she says.