QVC claims the 'Q' in its first national branding campaign

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In an attempt to set itself apart from the home shopping industry, QVC has launched the first national branding campaign in the company's 21-year history. The three-phase campaign, which began on September 4, employs billboards, direct mail, and TV and newspaper advertising in an integrated effort.

At the same time, QVC is introducing a new logo, relaunching its Web site and generally "refreshing" as many consumer-facing elements of the brand as possible, according to Jeff Charney, chief marketing officer at QVC.

Charney joined QVC 18 months ago, while the company's current CEO, Mike George, took over about two years ago. Several members of QVC's other senior management are also relatively new. Which is why the company decided to take a good look at its core customers and its non-customers before launching any major marketing efforts, Charney said.

Partnering with research firm Ideo, QVC, West Chester, PA, embarked on a six-month strategic review of its customers. In addition to traditional focus groups, QVC representatives shopped with customers and had dinner with them in an attempt to "really understand what makes them tick," Charney said.

As a result of that research, the company learned that consumers tend to group QVC with other home shopping sites and that there's a stigma associated with the home shopping industry.

"People don't really understand us that well," Charney said. "There are many things that are unique to QVC," he continued, pointing to such features as having the ability to tell a product's full story, giving consumers a chance to call in and ask questions, and the addition of approximately 250 new products a week.

The goal of the campaign is to break down some of the stereotypes that are associated with the home shopping industry, Charney continued. "If we do, we will be a bigger part of the consideration set for people who shop, in general," he said. The target audience is women aged 35 and older, with a household income of $50,000 or more. "That's a very large population that we're looking at," Charney.

The first phase of the campaign involved billboards in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia simply printed with the letters "iQdoU?" The second phase began on September 23, when QVC revealed itself as the brand behind that enigmatic message and that the question literally means, "I shop QVC, do you?"

On the same day, QVC ran 45 ads in The Philadelphia Inquirer - its hometown paper - using a similar teaser approach. Ads also began appearing that day in national print magazines and on cable and network TV.

"We want to own the letter æq,'" Charney said, adding that this particular letter will be at the center of a lot of the marketing efforts coming out of QVC in the coming months.

Later the same week, QVC was scheduled to relaunch its Web site, which does more than $1 billion in sales annually, with more interactivity, more customer reviews and a heavy emphasis on video. "We have an enormous amount of video content," Charney said.

The third phase of the campaign will begin later this quarter and will focus on QVC's social shopping experience and unique products.

All of these efforts are an attempt "to make sure the customer sees us in the best possible light," Charney said, adding that QVC is not trying to change. "We are a very successful company, but when you're on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you want to look as fresh and inviting as you can."

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