This is the Man I want to be

French Connection bag

Bloomin’ heck I’ve been seduced, seduced by a website. Like most creative professionals (I’m guessing here) I consider myself pretty resistant to advertising, but on this occasion I’ve been suckered in good and proper and I’m not even sorry. Just which adverts am I blithering on about? French Connection’s new direction ‘This is the man’, that’s what.

Now in my defence the tv ads and posters are pretty rubbish, looking a bit like a posey perfume commercial than the kind of thing that would normally appeal to me. The rebrand got a good old slating on AdvertAnon, although I think they were more angry with Fallon than the actual work. But they’ve got me through other channels, those wily branding types. The whole ‘This is the man’ concept has been expanded completely across the French Connection brand, including a ‘This is the woman’ side for female fashion. It’s a total refresh, and about time too. I always thought the FCUK thing was a pretty cheap joke and not a very good hook to hang a clothing label on, and the less said about the ‘Fashion versus Style‘ theme the better.

But I was introduced to the brand through a blog site that the esteemed Poke London have set up, Manifesto. Whilst this site is being used to push their products, it’s also being used to push the new brand values. The tone is off-beat and irreverent and I really quite like it.

“Men have lost the ungentle art of manliness. The man in the street doesn’t know what to bring to a knife fight. He gets nervous around large fish. He can’t tie a full Windsor. It’s time to man up.”

This also means they (the nerds behind the site) have been getting involved in social media, and I have to say they’re doing it very well. They’ve jumped on board the Chat Roulette band-wagon by laying down the challenge of ‘charming a partner’, a pretty topical throw-down given that Chat Roulette is gathering more coverage. French Connection have also, quite oddly, got involved with the new film Kick Ass, a quirky and violent spin on the super-hero genre. It’s this ‘added brand value’ that does it for me. As I learned in that brand workshop the other week, the successful companies are the ones that don’t just embrace an idea, they build their whole company around them.

All this along with some really slick identity and packaging graphics has led to me going out deliberately to shop at French Connection, something I can’t recall a clothing brand ever making me do before. Maybe it’s the aspirationally-bearded chap, maybe it’s my unspoken desire to smarten up and look presentable, but I’ve really bought into the whole brand experience. They’ve got me good.

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