What is the longevity of the relationship between your agency and the brand, and how did this relationship begin?
We’re very proud of the longevity of many of our clients, La-Z-Boy being one of them. RPA won the La-Z-Boy business in spring 2007. I was part of that pitch team and have been proud to lead that account ever since.
Throughout the length of our relationship a lot of things have changed, from within the category to more macro elements. In 2009 we faced the very challenging housing crisis, only two years into our relationship. The impact of the housing crisis was even more significant to La-Z-Boy’s business than COVID-19. But we came out the other side of it much stronger and more nimble. That was around the time we decided to switch from the “Comfort, it’s what we do” campaign that won the account and decided to launch “Live Life Comfortably” with Brooke Shields.
Tell us about the first campaign your agency worked on for the brand.
“Comfort, it’s what we do” was our first campaign for La-Z-Boy. At the time their target audience was split 50/50 male/female. Our research showed that the final purchase decision was often split but that females were more likely to recognize the need for new furniture. La-Z-Boy always gets credit for recliners, but they make much more than recliners. Everything we do highlights all their other furniture pieces. To get the female shopper to consider going to La-Z-Boy we had to convince her that they make a wider range of beautiful furniture, which was the impetus for our next La-Z-Boy campaign.
What has been the most innovative/successful campaign created by your agency for the brand?
“Live Life Comfortably” launched in 2010. The month we launched it, La-Z-Boy went on a run of 38 consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases. More recently we’ve continued the “Live Life Comfortably” campaign but have transitioned to using Kristen Bell as La-Z-Boy’s spokesperson. We wanted someone very down to earth and approachable, which is in line with the La-Z-Boy brand.
What factors have enabled you both to stay in a partnership for so long?
The root of it is trust. We’ve continued to build trust while fighting through the housing crisis as well as during COVID. With La-Z-Boy headquartered in Detroit and RPA in Los Angeles, we’ve made sure geography is not an issue. La-Z-Boy trusts us to do so much – media, TV, digital, social – not only in the U.S. but Canada as well. Our relationship has grown over time and continues to grow because of that trust that we’ve built.
What do you identify as being the most significant change in the industry for the brands? In which way have you adapted to meet this change?
The evolution of audience targeting and data privacy are the biggest recent changes. We work very closely with La-Z-Boy on revenue attribution and attribution models – what channels, what spend is having the biggest impact on the business. It’s incredible how granular you can get with those details. Looking ahead with privacy issues – in our industry it seems the pendulum is always swinging so far. We used to be able to get so much customer data and now that is swinging back. The key equalizer is great, rich storytelling and presenting products to the right customer with the right message at the right time.
How would you describe the relationship between you and this client? In what ways has the dynamic changed since the pandemic began?
We are very close with our clients, especially with CMO Eli Winkler. He knows how much we understand the brand. It’s a brand I’ve worked with personally longer than any other brand in my career. I’m very proud of this relationship, its longevity and success. It helps when you have a personal connection with your client, because when crises come up it’s easier to find that common ground and find a mutually beneficial solution. We are truly partners and are seen as an extension of their marketing team.
When COVID hit, we were fortunate that we had just finished a huge production. La-Z-Boy was affected and had to shut down many of their stores. We had to pivot to drive people into outlets that were still open and went much more digital. A few months after COVID hit, we realized that, with all the time people were spending in their homes, they were looking to invest in their homes and make their houses more comfortable, allowing La-Z-Boy to come back from months of declining sales.