Content brand of the week: Selfridges, the brand with a big imagination

SELFRIDGES - Festival of Imagination Windows_Butcher's Apron_5

Selfridges? Would it be too obvious to ask if this week’s post has anything to do with devices for keeping food cool?

It would. Selfridges is a high-end British department store that sells all manner of fancy goods, from designer handbags to Apple computers – but not refrigerators.

Next you’ll be telling me it has nothing to do with the TV show ‘Mr Selfridge’ either.

Actually the show is loosely based on the life of the store’s founder Harry Selfridge.

So Mr Selfridge is a canny piece of content marketing like Lego’s new movie?

Not intentionally. The brand wasn’t involved with the creation of the show – although it has been leveraging the connection between the two to create content for its own digital channels. This video gives visitors to the brand’s online magazine section a chance to meet the cast, plus a sprinkling of clips from the show itself.

So when national TV networks aren’t doing the work for it, how does Selfridges create content that matters to its audience?

Well with London Fashion Week kicking off today and the impressive list of designers gracing its shelves I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that Selfridges has been focusing on fashion-related content. The store uses the aforementioned magazine section of its site ( to keep customers updated with all its new product lines, as well as sharing video content from brands it stocks.

Any highlights?

There are five tabs in the section, but our favourite is Self Expression, which mixes “exclusive interviews, front-row catwalk reports and street style findings” in a manner reminiscent of the glossy fashion mags. The producers at Selfridges are clearly diligent about creating quality content and this helps its offering stand out in a crowded landscape. We also like the layout of the pages, with featured stories and trending topics prominently displayed on the right of the screen – it’s simple and sticky.

Selfridges is keeping up with the Vogues and Asoses of the world then?

Definitely. It’s not just keeping up though, the brand isn’t afraid to push in new directions by calling on its heritage in innovative ways. It’s currently running a month-long ‘Festival of Imagination’ with loads of events in its four nationwide locations, as well as a bumper crop of online content.

Ooh, fancy website!

Fancy indeed. It’s got all the bells and whistles you’d associate with cutting edge web design including the ubiquitous ‘parrallax’ scrolling made popular by sites like Milwaukee Police – and it’s rich in content. Throughout the festival, visitors to the Selfridges site will also be able to access a free streaming service where they can listen to radio shows produced in partnership with The Butcher’s Apron, ‘a theme-time radio show that invites and explores the unexpected’. The other festival content is equally unusual, with many of the country’s most innovative artists and producers getting the opportunity to show off their work.

It all sounds a bit off the wall.

It does, and it is – but that works for Selfridges, which has a history of defying convention ever since founder Harry chose to open his first location on the unfashionable ‘wrong end’ of Oxford street more than 100 years ago. In fact, Harry’s philosophy on retail was all about capturing hearts and minds. For him, the wallets came later: “The whole art of merchandising consists of appealing to the imagination. Once the imagination is moved, the hand goes naturally to the pocket. But if the first appeal is to the purse, the imagination is apt to revolt and raise barriers against buying. In trade, as in most other things, the mind is master.” Which could serve as a pretty good definition of content marketing, long before the term was ever coined.


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Author: Tom Owen

A strategic storyteller and compelling content creator, awash with acuity and adept at alliteration. I work for Speak Media.

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