JUNE 1, 2007
The Fashion Channel
Dana Wheeler, senior vice president of marketing for The Fashion Channel (TFC), sat in her Chicago office and scrolled through the email messages in her inbox. Thankfully, none required an urgent reply. She toggled over to her calendar: no meetings for the rest of the day. Finally, she could focus her thoughts on reviewing her recommendations for TFC’s new segmentation and positioning strategy. Wheeler believed that she had prepared a solid analysis; she felt confident about the strategy she was proposing. But next week’s senior management meeting would mark her first big presentation to the company’s leaders since she ...view middle of the document...
Wendy Stahl is vice president of corporate development at creditcards.com. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School. This case, though based on real events, is fictionalized, and any resemblance to actual persons or entities is coincidental. There are occasional references to actual companies in the narration. Copyright © 2007 Harvard Business School Publishing. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the permission of Harvard Business Publishing. Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School.
2075 | The Fashion Channel
The channel was also one of the most widely available niche networks, reaching almost 80 million U.S. households that subscribed to cable and satellite television.1 Women between 35 and 54 years were its most avid viewers, according to its annual demographic survey. But beyond basic demographics, the channel didn’t have much in the way of detailed information about its viewers. Nor did it attempt to market to any viewer segments in particular. From the beginning, in fact, Jared Thomas had believed that TFC’s marketing messages should appeal to as broad a group as possible in order to achieve the highest possible viewership numbers. Early on, the network had chosen “Fashion for Everyone” as the theme for its marketing programs; one of its more popular series in 2005 had been “Look Great on Saturday Night for Under $100.” TFC had clearly grown quickly without articulating any detailed segmentation, branding, or positioning strategy. However, at the beginning of 2006, the network realized that other networks were taking note of its success and beginning to add fashion-related programming to their line-ups. TFC was facing competition that could provide meaningful choices to both viewers and advertisers. By June 2006, these new competitive dynamics had prompted Thomas to rethink his approach to marketing. At the quarterly executive meeting that month, he told his senior team: “It’s time for us to build a modern brand strategy and secure The Fashion Channel’s position as the market leader. I want to use marketing to lay a foundation for future growth.” At the same meeting, Thomas had announced plans to sharply increase TFC’s investment in advertising and to hire an experienced marketer to develop marketing and brand-building programs to support TFC’s continued growth. Enter Dana Wheeler, in July 2006. Wheeler had a strong background in marketing for packaged consumer products as well as broad experience in the advertising industry. Thomas expected that Wheeler would draw on these strengths to help TFC build on the momentum it had created to date and stave...