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Claire’s marketing boss continues modernization mission with Gen Z/Alpha-led campaign

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By Hannah Bowler | Journalist

September 20, 2022 | 6 min read

Former PepsiCo CMO Kristin Patrick was brought in to transform Claire’s from a legacy mall-based retailer to fully integrated fashion brand. Her latest campaign, ‘Get Pierced’, sets out her ambition.

Claire's brand transformation plans

Claire's brand transformation plans

In 2021, Claire’s hired Kristin Patrick as chief marketing officer, tasking her with expanding the accessory retailer’s media mix, experimenting with content types and injecting more ‘fun’ into its marketing. At the time, chief executive officer Ryan Vero said it was Patrick’s “analytic and insight-driven marketing” approach, along with her content innovation and “digital prowess”, that swung her the gig.

Her debut campaign, the December 2021 ‘Be the Most Festive’, marked Claire’s first integrated campaign to combine out-of-home, e-commerce extensions, store experiences, social media and influencer activity.

Now, Patrick has released the multi-channel ’Get Pierced’ campaign, which will culminate in Claire’s first national TV spot later in the Autumn. Released to promote its ear piercing offering, the work aims to tap into Gen Z and Alpha culture by using content creators and airing a supporting TikTok series.

“Ear piercing is at the center of what we do and it’s what immediately comes to mind when consumers think of our brand,” says Patrick. She acknowledges that, from a brand salience perspective, Claire’s is “lucky enough to be a brand that so many people had the opportunity to experience during a memorable rite of passage like a first ear piercing”.

Running alongside the campaign, Claire’s has produced the TikTok series ’EarPrint’, which features Gen Z and Alpha artists Alaya High and Dai Time, plus the influencer Kheris Rogers. Digital creator Aaron Idelson directed the series, which was created with iPhone assets that use TikTok trends and transitions.

@thatgirllaylay @Claire’s keepin’ my style game strong with the BEST accessories & piercings. Why look boring when you can wear #Claires? #PiercedByClaires #Claires #ad ♬ original sound - ThatGirlLayLay

“With ’EarPrint’, we used a technique that felt authentic to the platform – which in this case was TikTok – and allowed our director, Aaron Idelson, to get creative with it and have fun. We’re all about self-expression and aim to show that by continuing to have fun with the ways we show up in culture. For the ’EarPrint’ campaign, that meant [showing up] casually through the lens of an iPhone, but in other cases it can be more high-gloss and editorial in style.”

Patrick adds that creators are central to her marketing strategy, with her ambition being to profile both well-known and “fresh to the scene” talent.

’Get Pierced’ is part of Claire’s new brand platform, ‘Be the Most’, which looks to redefine it as “modern, trendsetting, innovative and playful“. To inform her insights, Patrick uses a “youth panel“. She says: “This has helped to modernize the ways that we show up in culture and to take stock in the things that we know they care about.”

Claire's Stores brand asset

Claire’s had a strong post-pandemic bounce back in 2021, with its net sales at $1.4bn, which was up 53% on 2020 and up 9% on the 2019 fiscal year. The business has benefited from a resurgence of 90s and 00s fashion among Gen Z and Alpha.

Patrick says Claire’s is at a “pivotal cultural moment that is allowing people to rediscover the magic and imagination that Claire’s has offered and continues to offer”.

Beyond the campaign, Patrick has plans to grow Claire’s experiential marketing, which means metaverse plays and a new content strategy in the works. “Our customers live unique and multifaceted lives. They express themselves in various ways and evolve and change over time. Our brand needs to move with them.”

For more on the Evolution of E-commerce, check out The Drum’s latest Deep Dive.

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