American Marketer


Bloomingdale’s speaks to sports fans with NBA campaign

January 12, 2015

James Harden for Bloomingdale's James Harden for Bloomingdale's


Department store chain Bloomingdale's is showing off its sportier side with a multichannel campaign celebrating the 64th NBA All Star Game.

In-store pop-ups will sell NBA merchandise, while online content will cater to off-the-court style, with digital lookbooks and a personal style video series featuring Houston Rockets player James Harden. With this initiative, Bloomingdale’s is able to both entertain and educate men on fashion, potentially prompting a trip to their nearest store location.

"This NBA-themed event is a great way for Bloomingdale's to get some press outside of their core demographics," said Gustavo Gomez, director of research and methodology at Envirosell, New York.

"They will benefit from the attracting a younger customer base than the typical Bloomingdale's customer," he said. "Add James Harden to the equations and Bloomingdale's connects with a great athlete that is a leader on and off the field, plus the halo effect of the beard.

"Bloomingdale's is expecting to attract a younger and male consumer base. They are looking to stretch the brand image beyond women.

"They want to attract the male urbanista, as well as those looking for the professional look with a better fit. Basically, the message is, 'It's not your dad's men's suit department anymore.'"

Mr. Gomez is not affiliated with Bloomingdale's, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Bloomingdale's was unable to comment before press deadline.

Personal style
In January, Bloomingdale’s is launching pop-ups at 16 of its stores, including stores in New York, New Jersey, Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Here, consumers can shop retro jerseys, vintage graphic t-shirts and accessories, as well as exclusive New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets apparel, such as varsity jackets and headwear.

Bloomingdale's NBA memorabilia

NBA memorabilia on Bloomingdale's

The pop-up items are also available online through Feb. 15, via the dedicated Web page for the campaign.

On the Web page, launched Jan. 8, consumers can explore digital content Bloomingdale’s created in collaboration with GQ magazine. Three lookbooks highlight different aspects of Houston Rockets player James Harden’s personal style, illustrated with apparel and accessories available at Bloomingdale’s.

“Tailored” shows pieces from Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Canali, and consumers can click on a button to shop the outfit from the lookbook.

Bloomingdale's NBA tailored

Screenshot of Bloomingdale's lookbook

Each of the lookbooks is accompanied by a video of Mr. Harden talking about his personal style. Brett Fahlgren, GQ executive stylist, interviews him about his preferences.

In the video for tailored pieces, they talk about how a suit needs to be tightly fitted, and Mr. Harden explains that many of his coaches are still wearing baggy suits, even after he tries to get them to adjust. He also shares some tips for finding suits for a tall man.

Bloomingdale's "Nailing the Fit"

“Athleisure” talks about mixing and matching fashion pieces with tailored athletic gear to create a laid-back style. Mr. Harden talks about feeling comfortable while having “swag”, and explains how the walk from the bus to the locker room is now photographed and shared across social media, requiring stylish attire.

Three videos total were created.

From the online hub, consumers can also go to Charity Buzz to bid on a one-of-a-kind weekend built around the NBA All Star Game Feb. 15 in New York. The package, valued at $15,000 includes two VIP tickets to the game, roundtrip airfare, hotel accomodations, a private tour of Madison Square Garden and a $2,500 Bloomingdale’s shopping spree, along with a consultation with a Freemans Sporting Club tailor to create a bespoke suit.

The winning bidder will also have a meet-and-greet with an NBA star and will have the opportunity to attend a party thrown by a player.

Bloomingdale’s charity auction will donate 100 percent of the proceeds to Mentoring USA, a New York-based non-profit that sets up one-on-one mentorships for children to help them beat personal, economic and social challenges.

On Jan. 19, Bloomingdale’s flagship in New York will host interactive windows filled with NBA merchandise.

Mr. Harden will be at the store on Feb. 12 to co-host a fashion event with GQ.

In a brand statement, Frank Berman, Bloomingdale's executive vice president of marketing, said, "Bloomingdale’s is thrilled to infuse the excitement of the NBA All-Star Game in-stores and online through a variety of ways. We saw the opportunity to tap into the basketball community’s love for fashion with our own through close collaborations, merchandise, visual displays and special events, to celebrate this iconic event with fans and shoppers while supporting Mentoring USA.”

Sports style
Bloomingdale’s has found ways to blend sports, style and community outreach.

For example, Bloomingdale’s was one of the New York-based luxury retailers that celebrated having the Super Bowl in their hometown for the first time with football-inspired events of their own.

The store partnered with the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the National Football League to have fashion designers including Donna Karan, John Varvatos and Diane von Furstenberg decorate 48 football helmets with their aesthetic.

The collection was auctioned off on the Bloomingdale’s Web site, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the NFL Foundation, which provides grants to youth and high school football programs, as well as supporting health and safety projects like NFL Play 60. As part of its festivities, Bloomingdale’s held a sweepstakes to give away a football-themed prize package containing gear and a $1,000 gift card to the retailer (see story).

Sports stars are fashion icons to their fans, allowing retailers to inspire their male audience.

For instance, department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue is teaming up with the New York Jets for a style-focused YouTube series.

“Fashion Blitz” is a three-part feature, in which a store representative helps a team member revamp his wardrobe. This is part of a longstanding collaboration with the NFL team, a good fit due to the players’ interest in fashion (see story).

This will open up Bloomingdale's to new consumers, who may not typically associate the retailer with sports merchandise.

"The key for Bloomingdale's is to attract this new clientele without intimidating their core customer," Mr. Gomez said. "By teaming up with the NBA, GQ magazine and James Harden, Bloomingdale's hopes to do just that.

"The Charity event also softens the perception from those that might think their department store is changing. It allows for a change with a purpose," he said. "The charity event also opens the brand to new customers.

"What seems less clear is if casual fans will see Bloomingdale's as a destination for team apparel even temporarily. The NBA All-Star gear might work as a temporary pop-up store, but it seems to depart from Bloomingdale's luxury status."

Final Take
Sarah Jones, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York