The Drum Recommends: Commended - Cool Blue Brand Communications: SAY HELLO TO MR CLARKE

Cool Blue Brand Communications were asked to help present the Barker and Stonehouse brand to a new region and audience.

The Drum Recommends: Commended is highlighting Cool Blue Brand Communications who were asked to help present the Barker and Stonehouse brand to a completely new region and audience via the launch of its Hove store.

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Barker and Stonehouse is a longstanding client of Cool Blue. Our team has worked on every phase and element of the company’s brand development, taking it from being a regionally known retailer to one that is nationally renowned in its sector.

Since working with Cool Blue, Barker and Stonehouse has been able to reach beyond its northern heartland, to become a national name with a distinctive product portfolio and brand personality.

As part of Cool Blue’s ongoing marketing and creative campaign, Barker and Stonehouse challenges the agency to launch new stores across the UK.


To present the Barker and Stonehouse brand to a completely new region and audience via the launch of its Hove store. The campaign needed to excite and entice key audiences through a combination of PR, marketing and a high footfall launch event to drive sales and maximise ROI.


We took an omni-channel approach that centred around TV presenter and architect, George Clarke, opening the store. George is a relevant and well-known figure amongst the key audience, and by working with him, we were able to benefit from shared brand equity and introduce Barker & Stonehouse in an appropriate manner.

We developed a comprehensive three-month strategy, which included the production of a range of content packages. These were used both online and offline and were shared with George Clarke, the media, social influencers and Barker and Stonehouse’s own team (for use on their social channels, website and direct mail packs). The central focus of the campaign was a personal appearance from George at the opening of the Hove store. Cool Blue developed the whole campaign and its materials, ensuring all the legal contracts were in place with George.


In the days leading up to the store opening, residents in the area received a personal invite in the form of a direct mail and door drop brochure pack. Cool Blue created that brochure to include feature articles to introduce the brand to the new audience as well as editorial based on George Clarke’s appearance at the store. We enlisted the help of an on-street promo team, using quirky vintage tricycles featuring Barker and Stonehouse branding, to spread the message of George Clarke’s appearance.


The busy launch day schedule included a live interview with George Clarke, hosted by The Daily Telegraph’s Interiors Editor, Talib Choudhry, as well as a ‘meet and greet’ photo opportunity with George.

A competition to win £2,000 to spend in store also attracted footfall and provided valuable data for future use.

We enlisted the help of a beautiful white ice-cream ‘taxi’ to keep visitors entertained and attract further footfall on the day.

This fun activity was not only seaside appropriate, but also showcased how welcoming and friendly Barker and Stonehouse is to customers.


During the event, the interview with George Clarke was streamed on Facebook Live. We also invited Twitter users to ask George a question as part of the interview using #AskGeorge – the quality and relevance of questions posted were excellent.

A short launch day video was posted across social media via the Barker and Stonehouse YouTube channel. Part of our reason for celebrity endorsement was to leverage George Clarke’s popularity through his own social channels to raise awareness of the store opening.

Prior to the event, George Clarke’s team shared posts about his appearance alongside date and venue details. On launch day, we branded all Barker and Stonehouse social channels with a ‘George Clarke Takeover’ message. Throughout the day we posted imagery and comments from the event schedule; promoting the free ice-creams, competitions and obviously the personal appearance.


Cool Blue is already responsible for the production of the Barker and Stonehouse quarterly national direct mail campaign, so we were perfectly placed to design and develop specific content for this event. Alongside the press look book and the spring/summer brochure, we also designed in-store signage featuring George Clarke’s favourite pieces from the collection.


Alongside the live Q&A session at the launch event, George also participated in numerous regional press interviews organised by our team.

Barker and Stonehouse is a brand with a rich history in the North and a reputation for cutting edge, trendsetting furnishings, so we wanted to ensure that the brand’s identity, unique portfolio and heritage were presented to the press.

To do this effectively, we designed a trend-led look book featuring a timeline to introduce the company’s core values. The lookbooks were supplied to all regional media.

Radio coverage was secured with Heart FM Sussex in the week leading up to the launch. In addition, the April edition of Sussex Life included a full page reader competition. Both media pieces heavily promoted the new store location, launch weekend details and the personal appearance information.


George’s favourite pieces from the collection and an overview of the launch event were posted as articles on the Barker and Stonehouse blog, providing content pre and post-event.

As part of the launch day event, a leading regional blogger interviewed George Clarke, the purpose of which was to gain further exposure with local residents whilst most likely appealing to a different demographic from The Daily Telegraph interview.

To find out more on the Cool Blue Brand Communications agency visit their The Drum Recommends profile.

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