Leather Bags


Wonderberry’s Claims to Fame

Wonderberry has worked for hundreds of clients over the years, some more well known than others. In a new series starting this month, ‘Claims to Fame’ takes a look at a few of the high-profile brands we’ve worked with and how we played our part.

#1 Radley

Radley’s little leather Scottie dog dangling from every handbag and stamped on every purse has entranced customers for over a decade (even though he started life as a humble decoration on a price tag).

When our relationship with Radley began in 1998, he wasn’t so well known. Nor was Radley, for that matter. We were appointed by Alan Warner, MD and owner of Tula Bags Ltd. In those days, Tula was a household name, a byword for quality leather handbag and purses. Most mums and grannies across middle England owned at least two and wanted more. The brand, created by Alan in the 1970s, had rapidly become a runaway success. The soft, buttery leather from which the bags and purses were crafted was elegant yet hardwearing, which appealed to Tula’s many fans.

But by the mid 90s, Tula’s brand personality was in need of a kick start to take it into the 21st century. Wonderberry was appointed as lead agency and started work on the brand refresh of Tula….little did we know that a sister brand – set to be far more famous – was waiting in the wings.

Tula’s creative director, Lowell Harder, a qualified architect turned fashion designer from Australia, had a vision for a product range which was bold, exciting and adventurous. Too adventurous for the Tula label, it was launched under the sub-brand Radley. Her design ethos was built around clean simple lines and contemporary classics that still feel fresh today, with just a touch of English eccentricity. The range proved perfect for young professional women who didn’t want fuss, just stylish design to complement their dress, attitude and lifestyle.

Lowell was very clear about the direction in which Radley was heading, even down to the detail of which celebrity mirrored the brand personality. (It has been reported that Lowell was horrified to see Eastenders stars on the front page of the Daily Mail carrying Radley handbags as they left the TV Awards…)

By 1999, the brand’s popularity was going from strength to strength and the Scottie dog, by now a regular fixture, was clearly here to stay. It was at this time that Wonderberry launched the first above-the-line advertising campaign using our canine friend, giving Lowell and her designers free rein to create even more memorable bags. (The dog was such a hit we recommended he be quickly transformed into a key ring which sold out immediately. Does anyone still have one of these iconic key rings? We’d love to hear from you….)

Wonderberry also launched the first Radley website in 2001, giving life to Scottie the dog in full-blown animation.

The campaigns that followed carefully re-introduced models to ensure the brand was taken seriously by the fashion press and key retail stores. A successful strategy it would seem as Radley’s fortunes continued to rise and in 2007, the brand was sold for £130m.




USAirtours: up, up and away to a staggering £10m turnover increase
(in just 12 months)

It’s true. When we were handed the prestigious role of USAirtours’ full-service marketing agency, we were also presented with the challenge of taking the client’s existing marketing spend and increasing their turnover by at least 25%. We’re proud to say we achieved it.

This marked the start of an enduring relationship which continues to this day. We interviewed founder and chief executive, Guy Novik, for his take on the last 18 years.

WB: The 90s was the last decade before internet marketing really took off. What was it like working in a pre-internet era?

Guy: USAirtours was founded in 1982 and Wonderberry came on board in 1994. The 80s and 90s were a time of no internet as far as mass communication was concerned – the fax machine and telephone were about as sophisticated as it got! Digital technology was still in its infancy.

In the mid 90s, the only way a customer could book a holiday or a flight was through the travel agent on the high street, or directly with the airline or tour operator over the phone, having browsed and made their choice from a printed brochure. As a tour operator to the US and Canada, USAirtours were a ‘one-stop-shop’, providing flight information for all airlines as well as holiday packages.

With an emphasis on telephone sales, one of the first strategies to boost our profile was to register different phone numbers with area codes for Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and London (all re-routed to the same office in Gants Hill!) giving customers the impression we were a big nationwide operator.

In the pre-internet world, media choices were less fragmented but it was just as important to innovate, regardless of medium. We invested heavily in above the line; we were the first tour operator to use tube advertising and our press advertising was thoroughly tested, revaluated and tested further. Below the line, we focused on customer profiling, understanding the demographic breakdown of our customer base which enabled us to create a successful direct marketing strategy.

USAirtours was a great name in the US market; but it was geographically restrictive. Travelplanners was launched to enable the company to market holiday locations further afield.

WB: Share with us your thoughts on the use of tube cards as the first UK tour operator to do this.

Guy: Marketing on the Underground was chosen to grow the Travelplanners brand. I recall one of the earliest visuals was a bikini clad holiday maker reclining on a large phone. The emphasis for the brand was all about one-stop shopping on the phone. This creative and the media choice were both very successful, growing the Travelplanners brand rapidly.

The use of tube cards was unusual at the time; big airlines had used the tube for advertising, but not tour operators. Interestingly, the activity generated short-term tactical sales; not what you would expect from outdoor advertising (generally used for big brand awareness campaigns). All other activity was scaled back during the promotional period enabling us to measure the effectiveness of the tube campaign; also, unique phone numbers and tracking codes were used. The phone rang off the hook and was responsible for around 90% of our sales at that time.

WB: And what about press advertising?

Guy: Aside from the tube, our principle source of lead generation was from advertising in the national press, e.g. the Evening Standard, Mail on Sunday. Under Wonderberry’s guidance, we experimented with a variety of ads in different sizes, formats and with different creative to understand which worked best. We negotiated effectively and always had an ad ready to send out when late availability slots became available. We also tested our ads in the free London magazines of the day – Miss London and Girl About Town.

We were heavily focused on understanding what worked. Each and every ad had a unique tracking code so that we could measure the response rate to the ad creative, the title it appeared in, the format of the ad and its position on the page.  We tested endless variations which meant our media planning never stood still.

It’s interesting to note that all this activity was happening in a pre-digital era; no print-ready PDFs which could be amended and sent out at the stroke of a button via email. Our ad artwork went through the conventional reproduction process of the times. All creative concepts were sketched by hand in those days (called one stroke scamps), final approved artwork was printed onto bromides by a reproduction house and these were supplied to the titles by courier.

WB: Tell us a little about your worldwide brand, Travelplanners?

Guy: Travelplanners represented a fundamental shift for USAirtours: it allowed us to fulfil the requirements of existing customers who wanted to travel to destinations beyond the US. The launch of Travelplanners was important, clearly. We used direct marketing to communicate with our customer base that we were expanding. We also produced a 200 page brochure which was mailed out to all enquirers and which was updated several times a year.

As well as marketing to customers with regular offers and news updates, we also invested in lead generation through database marketing. Working with Experian, we carried out modelling and demographic profiling of our existing customers to establish a typical customer profile. Using this, we then bought highly targeted prospect data and mailed a series of direct mail pieces – all with unique tracking codes to identify which lists performed well.

WB: What is the role of the travel brochure in today’s digital age?

Guy: To this day, the company still produces a brochure for the travel trade to use when selling our products; we believe that a percentage of the population still likes to pick up a brochure and read it before making a final decision. Certain sales are made online from start to end although this is less common with our tailor-made holidays where customers like to do their research on the web and then call directly to make the booking.

Over time, our brochures have been printed in ever decreasing quantities. Will it ever be phased out completely? I believe there is still a place for something printed on the agent’s shelf although it may not necessarily be something the customer takes away – perhaps instead they are emailed a PDF version to print out at home (assuming the price of colour printer cartridges goes down!).

There is also the possibility of the brochures being digitally produced in different versions, perhaps using print-on-demand to prevent any content becoming out of date.

The appeal of the printed brochure for many is that travel destination photography looks best off the printed page. As long as print continues to be used in conjunction with an online experience and the look and feel is consistent across both media, customers can use brochures to be inspired and go online to follow up (for example, using QR codes scanned from the brochure).


Iconic Brand


Radley: the iconic brand we helped to launch

Radley’s little leather Scottie dog dangling from every handbag and stamped on every purse has entranced customers for over a decade (even though he started life as a humble decoration on a price tag).

When our relationship with Radley began in 1998, neither he, nor the name Radley was the byword for accessories fashion it is today. Our involvement operated at a fundamental, strategic level as well as a creative, visionary level. We caught up with Ian Smith who worked in the Radley marketing team.

WB: What are your memories of those heady Wonderberry days?

Ian: Wonderberry were instrumental in changing the culture of the company (of which Radley was one of the brands). You helped the strategic management team fully embrace the marketing discipline by taking the time to go through the basics of the marketing mix and educate both decision makers and sales people out on the road. It made my job as the Brand Co-ordinator much easier and I personally learned a lot from Digi and the team (as my experience to date was based more on common sense than any CIM qualification). Radley was in its second or third season and had a very loyal customer base but it was seen as the ‘brand with the dog on’. Wonderberry were given the task of repositioning the name of Radley with the aim that it became recognised by fashion opinion formers and the wider handbag-buying public.

WB: How has the brand’s marketing evolved over the years?

Ian: The brand has gone through an era of unprecedented expansion and success over the last five years, with a turnover of around £115 million and its own chain of 23 UK retail shops and an online retail operation. The present marketing team have to work very hard in order to meet the needs of the business, and marketing is now seen as a fundamental element of the business (thanks to those early days!).

Radley has even taken the position of increasing marketing spend during these tough economic times when many other companies are cutting budgets. This is because Radley still feel they have an interesting tale to tell and a unique place in the market.

WB: So, what does the future hold for Radley?

Ian: Radley is venturing into new markets, working with partners across the globe in South Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Dubai, Japan and recently China working both on a wholesale and retail model. The marketing department is kept busy working on Pop-Up Shop opportunities, store launches and advertising campaigns to support all these territories.


The Fashionista's Choice


N. Peal: the journey of a brand from Granny’s treasured cardie to fashionista’s favourite

Once known for its loyal fan base largely made up of silver-haired aristocrats, N. Peal is now a brand with its feet firmly planted in the 21st century – the fashionista’s favourite when it comes to quality knitwear. It was back in 1998 that N. Peal’s MD Mark Blair decided that the luxury cashmere label needed a fresh creative direction. Cue Wonderberry.

Established in 1936 by Nat Peal, his ‘Gentleman’s Haberdashery’ was opened in Piccadilly’s prestigious Burlington Arcade, widely acclaimed to be one of the most exclusive shopping areas in the UK. With a ladies range not far behind, N. Peal personally shipped his wares Stateside and quickly became a hot favourite of Hollywood stars including Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner and Elizabeth Taylor. By the 80s, N. Peal could also add several members of the Royal Family to its customer list: the late Princess of Wales, for example, was frequently photographed in N. Peal’s finest Scottish cashmere so it seems appropriate that her new daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Cambridge is now often seen in the fashion magazines wearing N.Peal. Overseas, the brand’s popularity continued to grow with a healthy scattering of international celebrity customers such as Robert De Niro, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Meryl Streep, among others.

By the late 1990s, the brand was performing well and was certainly lucrative (with no item available to buy under £100 while the most expensive products ran into £000s); however, the customer base was largely older, albeit very loyal. The objective for the brand revamp was to attract younger customers without alienating existing ones.

Wonderberry recommended this could be achieved by adopting a fresh new creative approach. In the ensuing campaign, for the first time no N. Peal garments were featured, simply a model draped only in cashmere with the redesigned logo clearly positioned. The ads had the confidence and self-assurance of a couture designer label (not to mention size – they were all full page ads). Like many other labels, the message was all about youth, beauty and aspiration, but the absence of a product meant that existing customers didn’t associate their ‘N. Peal favourites’ with the ad. While the database may have interpreted the existing customer base as ‘old’, we understood not to underestimate the youthful aspirations those ‘old’ people still had. It’s rare to find an older audience who identifies itself as such. Just scratch the surface and you’ll often find the unexpected… We had to communicate that N. Peal was still the same sophisticated brand it had always been.

The first above-the-line ads appeared in 1999, in the UK and the US; targeting top fashion titles, national newspapers and glossy supplements. Our next step was to challenge the N. Peal knitwear designers to create spectacular one-off hand-knits fit for a catwalk. The most luxurious garments formed the backbone of subsequent press and PR campaigns, thus creating the brand truth that “Knitwear is fashion when it’s N. Peal”.

As a result, the brand was revolutionised and the positioning ‘N. Peal – Designer Cashmere since 1935’ was introduced. Cashmere was in vogue again; prior to our campaign, it had been associated with the twinsets and pearls of the 80s with rarely any face time in the press. And, as an added bonus, the men’s range saw a boom in sales resulting from the halo effect of the women’s campaign. Nat would have been proud.


Software Development


LANSA: software development tools for a modern world

Our journey with LANSA began in the late 1990s. With a very technical product and an unusually small market (business customers with a specific IBM server), the need to innovate was particularly important.

LANSA provides application development, modernization and integration tools and ebusiness solutions for iSeries, Windows and Linux. It was our job to use the marketing mix to communicate with prospective business clients about the competitive edge LANSA had, generate initial interest and let the geniuses at LANSA turn that interest into sales.

Our work included a series of advertising campaigns, including the memorable ‘chilli’ campaign (with a competitor called Cool, it was too good to resist) and media buying. Direct marketing was also a key focus which required list purchase and profiling of targets. We also handled LANSA’s web design work and created animations for the website.

Martin Fincham, Chief Operating Officer of the LANSA Group was kind enough to say these words:

“A very happy 18th to a wonderful company. We almost feel like part of the family as our relationship with Wonderberry goes back to when they were just a toddler. LANSA celebrates its 25th birthday soon and, like Wonderberry, we have grown up in an era of technological revolution. On that journey LANSA has helped organisations worldwide to realise the potential of their IT systems, and developed products and solutions to shield them from the complexities and pitalls of IT churn. Wonderberry has supported LANSA on our journey with their innovation, creativity and friendship. It is a relationship that we are proud to have and I’m sure that will enjoy growing old together. “