Euromarket Design, Inc.

AuthorRebecca Stanfel

Page 533

1250 Techny Rd.

Northbrook, Illinois 60062


Telephone: (847) 272-2888

Fax: (847) 272-5366

Web site:


In October 1998 Euromarket Design, Inc. launched an advertising campaign for Crate & Barrel, its chain of housewares and furniture stores. With an estimated budget of $3.5 million, Chicago-based ad agency McConnaughy Stein Schmidt Brown (MSSB) created a visually striking print campaign that appeared in national publications and regional magazines. While most of Crate & Barrel's previous advertising had focused on selling individual products, the new campaign attempted to burnish Crate & Barrel's overall brand image and distinguish the company from its various rivals. Although the market for house-wares was growing—as consumers' real wages rose, new home construction surged, and aging baby boomers spent more on redecorating—Crate & Barrel faced increased competition from other housewares retailers, ranging from other upscale stores such as Williams-Sonoma Inc.'s Pottery Barn to the mass merchandiser Target, owned by the Dayton Hudson Corp.

Crate & Barrel did not abandon specific products completely in its effort to promote its new image. Instead, the 1998 print ads paired shots of individual offerings with scenes of nature or buildings. The copy for the ads was somewhat lengthy and relied on a subdued wittiness to convey the campaign's message—that Crate & Barrel offered timeless products that imbued one's life with simplicity. For instance, one of the five ads queried, "What does one of our tables have in common with an afternoon in the country? Or one of our chairs with a lakeside sunset?" The copy continued, "Well, all warmly embrace the concept of simplicity: Clearly a plus in an age when three-fourths of the world's surface is covered with water, but four-fifths is wired for cable." An elegant, classic table was portrayed next to a scene of a wooden bridge expanding out over the ocean to the horizon line. The company's logo was discreetly placed in the corner of the piece. Other ads depicted a Crate & Barrel chair (along with a deserted shoreline), a goblet (with a snow-covered pastoral scene), plates (with a country chapel), and stockings stuffed with presents (with another snowy landscape). While some of the print executions were clearly holiday oriented, they nevertheless attempted to impart the campaign's overall theme, that Crate & Barrel was "not just a local housewares shop," as Heidi Musachio, an account supervisor at MSSB, told Adweek.

Like most other retailers, Crate & Barrel's peak business was during the holiday season. Accordingly, the campaign ran through December 1998 and then ended. Although the company's sales figures rose during the duration of the campaign and the ads received plaudits from the advertising community, Crate & Barrel shifted its advertising account to the recently formed Chicago ad shop Tucker Tapia and returned to more product-focused spots.

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Crate & Barrel's humble origins gave no indication of its future status as a housewares and furniture "powerhouse," as the Chicago Tribune described the company. Founded in 1962 by Gordon and Carole Segal, the first Crate & Barrel store was housed in an abandoned elevator factory in Chicago and stocked with specialty house-wares items. Because they could not afford expensive merchandise fixtures, the Segals displayed their wares on packing crates and barrels, thereby hitting upon the catchy name for their venture. "I knew plenty of young people like us with good taste and no money," Gordon Segal told HFN: The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network. "Who was catering to them?" As the company expanded and opened new stores, Crate & Barrel won the allegiance of the baby boomer generation—who increasingly earned more money to complement their "good taste"—with its distinctive and well-made products.

In the early 1990s Crate & Barrel broadened its offerings to include furniture. In fact, by 1995 furniture accounted for one-third of the company's sales. After its 1994 revenues topped $272 million, Crate & Barrel opened a Manhattan store in 1995 with a splashy campaign. By 1996 Crate & Barrel had grown to 62 retail outlets in 15 U.S. markets and did a brisk catalog business as well. Segal...

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