November 26, 1976
Public Aware of the Burlington Air
By PHILIP H. DOUGHERTY
Certainly among the more enjoyable commercial interruptions are the musical moments with Petula Clark promoting the various products of Burlington Industries:
It's the Burlington look,
It's the Burlington air. . .
You must have heard it. Miss Clark is just beginning her third year of singing it for different divisions of the country's largest textile company. Sometimes she's a single. Sometimes she's a duet. She's even been a trio, doing an Andrews Sisters spoof. The tempos vary. A tango perhaps. Or maybe a can-can.
Usually there's dancing. There have been as many as 20 people on camera.
These one-minute or 30 second gems led a Queens Village man to write the company: "Burlington commercials take on all the aspects of a minute musical. They have color. They have grace. They have my admiration."
"I can't read it aloud, I choke up," said Charles C. Singley, assistant advertising director, handing the letter over to a visitor. John K. Hanson, advertising and public relations director, smiled benignly.
The four 30-second spots in the new pool that began running Oct. 1 during network prime time and network news had been shot in midsummer at the Studios de Boulogne in Paris. Miss Clark lives in Switzerland and her contract requires a European location for the shooting.
Because they are dedicated to their work, their craft, their art, Mr. Singley and three people from Doyle Dane Bernbach, the agency put up with two weeks in Paris. And they did it all for you.
Mr. Hanson proudly notes that when the company does its annual opinion survey and asks the question "Where did you learn about Burlington?" some 70 percent of the respondents now reply "television."
Although only about 20 percent of ($3 million) of the Burlington budget goes into that medium.
It was just such a random sampling of 5,000 adults over 18 that led Burlington into network in 1965 when it discovered only a third of those asked had heard of the corporation. That's bad for the ego. It's also bad for the stock, employee morale and recruitment.
Today Burlington has a 93 percent awareness score, which allows it the luxury of not putting as much advertising weight behind the corporate effort as in the past. So the budget remains fairly stable despite soaring TV costs.
It runs its commercials on the networks for eight weeks in the fall and six weeks in the spring and adds some spot TV in New York because this is its most important market.
Although the company had just reached $1 billion in annual sales in 1965 when it became a network advertiser and is now at $2.3 billion, there is no way of equating the use of the medium to the growth. There are indications, however, that its divisions which operate fairly autonomously when it comes to advertising, are aware of what Mr. Hanson calls "a nice umbrella effect" supplied by Miss Clark's spots.
They are using her image in commercials intended for retail use and in point of sale material.
And since the Burlington name through the use of television has become better known to the masses, a number of the divisions have adopted it. For example, Cameo Hosiery has become Burlington Hosiery, and the United and Glove Furniture divisions have become Burlington House Furniture.
Mr. Hanson declines to say what Burlington is paying Miss Clark, but an industry source familiar with such negotiations said that it had to be a minimum of $125,000 for the first year.
"She's been good for us," said Mr. Hanson," and I think we've been good for her."