Sunday, January 10, 2010
Is Ugg's PR leaving customers out in the cold?

Getting people to queue up outside your shop is a great PR trick. Not only is it good marketing for the passing trade ("Wow! That shop must be amazing!") but it's effective in winning press attention for your opening, sale or new product.

Just think - riots at Primark Topshop as people fight over Kate Moss clothes, bouncers on the doors of Hollister, people camping overnight to be first in the queue for the Apple iToilet... And somehow the press is always there.

Some shops, like Ugg in Covent Garden, don't just keep the 'PR queue' for special occasions. It has a permanent bouncer-operated red rope at the door, only allowing a few people in at a time. I'm sure they say it's to keep the browsing experience positive for people in the store. I reckon it's for the reasons in paragraph one.

So when I saw about 20 people queuing in the snow on Saturday, being held back by that red rope, I had a peek in. There were about the same amount of people inside the cozy shop. They were trying on cozy boots and looking all cozy.

Is it me or is this utterly ridiculous? I had gone to Covent Garden specifically to buy a pair of Ugg boots for someone. Between getting off the Tube and Ugg's premium position on Longacre, I'd had to dive into numerous shops to warm up. This made me feel good about those retailers and even resulted in a few spontaneous purchases.

But there was no way I was queuing to get into a shop - a shop which could easily have contained ten times more people - was appropriate. It was freezing cold, and snowing hard. Ugg was taking the piss out of these people, all in the name of marketing.

Needless to say I didn't buy any Ugg boots. And until they stop treating their customers with contempt, I'm going to recommend to the intended recipient that they choose something else.

Perhaps Ugg's time would be better spent dealing with the scammers who flooded the 'net with fake sites this Christmas, rather than waste all that effort keeping people out of their shops?

Update: I got this email from Ugg in Australia:

Dear Jon,

Thank you for your email. At this time, while you have requested to post any views I will have to decline at this time.

If you are needing any further assistance, please contact us at 888-432-8530.

Marion Tibbs
Customer Service Representative

Oh well.

Picture courtesy of Kai Hendry. Thanks to Laura Tosney for the correction.