Bean Catches Airtime with Tour de France

Lance Armstrong may not be the only one celebrating the outcome of this year’s Tour de France. In July, outdoor gear and apparel cataloger L.L. Bean began a television ad campaign on a cable network covering the bicycle race, among several other networks, and at press time, initial results were positive.

“From the metrics we measure in terms of performance,” says Rich Donaldson, spokesperson for Freeport, ME-based Bean, “we’re pleased with the results we’ve seen thus far.”

Bean’s new campaign comes as a few other catalogers have begun using TV for marketing purposes as well. For instance, high-tech gadgets cataloger/retailer The Sharper Image has had success with late-night infomercials. And last fall, home furnishings cataloger/retailer Restoration Hardware produced an hour-long TV special, Restoration Home for the Holidays, that aired in more than 100 markets.

Past Bean TV campaigns have promoted the overall brand, rather than specific products. This was the first in which the cataloger advertised specific products — the Trail Model pack, Snap-T Polarfleece, and Adirondak Barn Coat. Those items, which range in price from $29 to $49, were chosen because “we thought they represented particularly good values,” says Steve Fuller, Bean’s vice president of corporate marketing.

In fact, Bean used the commercial not only to sell specific products but also to present itself as an affordable option for value-conscious customers. “This ad was our attempt to show that L.L. Bean remains relevant in the new economic climate,” Fuller explains. “In other words, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice customer service and quality for a good price.”

Launched on July 13 on the Outdoor Life Network as part of its Tour de France coverage, the ad also aired on several other networks, including CNN, MSNBC, Bravo, Lifetime, CBS, and The Weather Channel. The campaign wound down by midsummer.

The commercial opened with a family walking on a beach; they turned into a couple snowshoeing through the mountains, then a father and daughter in a park on a fall day, and finally a hiker during a downpour. Before showing the three products, the voiceover described how for 90 years, “L.L. Bean has helped our customers in every type of climate…including the economic one.”

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