Why brands turn to familiar faces in uncertain times

  • April 2, 2023

“This is the best result since 2014,” Fyfe says, “It will build momentum and we have a great story to tell and a clear vision.” The message is business as usual, following the store’s sale by South Africa’s Woolworths Holdings in December to Sydney-based private equity firm Anchorage Capital Partners.

“We are celebrating being 185 years old with a campaign that will last throughout the year… There’s a rich history of creators and authors of memories, and we will connect with some of those icons of the past.”

The store’s rearview mirror approach, with Gale and its anniversary celebrations, encourages David Jones’ customers to remember financially optimistic times while buying a $1790 dress from Michael Lo Sordo or $4650 jacket from Balmain.

“Shoppers in their forties, fifties and sixties want to be transported back to simpler, happier times,” says Gary Mortimer, a professor of marketing at Queensland University of Technology. “Nostalgic marketing connects with people at an emotional level. They will remember going into a DJs store and wandering around with their families when they didn’t have to worry about inflationary pressures.”

“It’s a strategy that works with customers who have paid off their mortgages and are insulated from financial pressures. You’re not going to buy a $6000 Louis Vuitton handbag if you’re worried about your next loan repayment.”

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Young customers unfamiliar with Gale’s “store wars” heyday opposite former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins at Myer or Kate Moss’s golden IT girl era miss out on the nostalgic good vibes.

“They’re probably shopping online anyway,” Mortimer says.

For Gale, the runway return is an opportunity to enjoy changes in the modelling industry, with the landscape once dominated by thin blondes now open to greater racial, size and gender diversity.

“There has been such a shift in the last five to 10 years,” she says. “The industry is far more inclusive. There is more diversity and more representation.”

“Before, I used to switch into an alter ego when I did my jobs. Now I have more perspective. Being a mother helps.” Gale shares son River and daughter Rosie with fiancée and former AFL football player Shaun Hampson.

“I’ll be in on the runway Saturday night and it will be swimming practice in the morning.”

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