Monday, June 24

Burberry Street Fashion Week Ad Sows Confusion in London

The Bond Street tube station on the London Underground was temporarily renamed “Burberry Street” as part of a London Fashion Week marketing campaign for the British luxury brand, leading to confusion among Londoners and tourists alike.

The signs, heralding the opening of Burberry’s redesigned flagship store on Bond Street, were in place from Friday until late Monday and early Tuesday, and led to numerous complaints from disoriented customers, according to Transport for London staff members.

Several uniformed staff members, who declined to give their names because they were not authorized to speak to the news media, said customers had reported missing their stops because of the signs, which were in the color of Burberry’s new bright blue.

“I heard all different things, to be honest, but nothing positive, unfortunately,” one staff member said. “People were saying, ‘Why is it like this? It’s confused us. We saw ‘Burberry Street’ so thought we were at the wrong place.’”

Transport for London said that this campaign was one of several in recent years that have involved temporarily renaming tube stations.

“While the station is branded ‘Burberry Street’, in-train announcements, announcements within the stations and staff on platforms will help customers should they require it,” a statement said.

A Transport for London spokesman declined to comment on how much Burberry paid for the ad campaign, but said that proceeds would be reinvested into London’s transportation system. Transport for London has struggled with increasing inflation and operating costs that are 5 percent higher than last year, according to its latest financial report, published in July. Passenger journeys are at 89 percent of prepandemic levels, it said.

A 2013 report, written by Conservative Party members of the London Assembly, suggested renaming London Underground lines and stations through sponsorship deals as a way to raise revenue for Transport for London.

Burberry did not respond to a request for comment.

Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas, a marketing professor at the British School of Fashion, saw the signs on Monday as she rode into the Bond Street station on the Elizabeth Line. The location of the ads struck her as possibly confusing, she said, because the station is used by many visitors going to and from London Heathrow Airport, and not all of them would know that Bond Street is associated with high fashion brands.

Still, the campaign created a buzz for Burberry and for London Fashion Week, which has struggled in the years following the pandemic, she said.

“Burberry linking themselves to other London icons is quite a clever idea because they do want to sell themselves on British heritage and London-based as well,” she said. “But maybe there was a slightly different way they could’ve done it.”

Silvia Bellezza, an associate professor of marketing at Columbia Business School who studies luxury fashion brands, described the campaign as a success for Burberry.

“They probably took into account that some people were going to be confused or possibly lost, but people are talking about it, and for many, that’s the goal,” she said.

She said that searches for “Burberry” spiked on Tuesday on Google Trends in Britain, one metric that brands use to gauge success in reaching consumers. She added that the campaign was “Instagrammable,” with people wanting to take selfies next to the “Burberry Street” signs, which could help rejuvenate the 167-year-old brand.