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The Children’s Place hopes celebs’ star power will help boost brand awareness

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The Children’s Place, a kids clothing brand, is overhauling its marketing strategy to become less dependent on in-store window ads and shifting those dollars to invest more in digital marketing, thus boosting brand awareness. To do so, the New Jersey-based company is partnering with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Snoop Dogg and the holiday heroine herself Mariah Carey. 

It’s a push to especially get in front of millennial mom shoppers, by using celebrity nostalgia, according to Maegan Markee, brand president for The Children’s Place family of brands. Historically, the more than 50-year-old company prioritized its brick and mortar businesses, focusing on bottom-of-funnel, customer retention tactics. But, like so many other retailers, pandemic lockdown upended in-store traffic and surged e-commerce, forcing companies like The Children’s Place to shift gears.

“Those stores were important marketing vehicles for us. They were billboards,” Markee said. Since then, the children’s brand has closed about 40% of its stores, shifting its marketing focus to paid social, influencers and celebrity partnerships to gain a bigger share of voice online.

“Most of our mix, historically, was focused toward bottom-of-funnel retention tactics,” Markee said. “We have made a concerted effort to really flip the script, you could say, in terms of how we think of our media mix and investing truly from brands all the way down through consideration.”

It’s unclear how much The Children’s Place is shelling out for said media channels or its celebrity partnerships as Markee declined to offer details. From January to August of this year, the company spent $29,849,554 on media, according to Vivvix, including paid social data from Pathmatics. That figure is significantly higher than the $5,668,819 spent on media within that same time period the year prior. 

For at least the last year, some marketers have been prioritizing brand awareness as opposed to immediate sales, especially in light of Apple’s ATT Privacy crackdown and Google’s crumbling third-party cookie upending targeting and measurement on direct response, performance marketing channels. 

“With all of the business context of what’s happening and the economic context, most brands, regardless of what field you’re in, you’re in a steal share situation,” Meredith Nelson, executive vice president of performance intelligence at Edelman DXI (Edelman data and intelligence), said. “If you’re in a steal share situation, you have to get in front of consumers to make sure they pick you over somebody else.”

At the same time, economic headwinds have placed more scrutiny on marketing budgets and return on media spend investments, making it difficult for advertisers to divert from the ROI and measurement performance marketing channels offer, per Nelson. For DTC marketers, the changes have emboldened them to reinvest in Meta and Google, notable performance marketing channels. (More on that here.) Still, Nelson said, brand awareness is a must, especially in today’s crowded digital marketing landscape.

“This is not discovery mode. People are in steal share mode, which is, to me, a huge motivator for people, for marketers to say, ‘We ended our brand to be front and center’,” Nelson said. “You can’t convert someone who doesn’t know about you.”

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