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Retail Has Just Changed Forever

Furniture World Magazine


Robb & Stucky unveils a new colossal store in Scottsdale, AZ.

Rising out of the desert in the booming city of Scottsdale, Arizona, part of the seventeenth largest market in America, the future of retail was unveiled on Memorial Day weekend 1997. Robb & Stucky opened their new colossus and have changed the face of not just home furnishings, but retail in general forever.

As seen in these exclusive photos, the new entrance with its massive porte cache, provides protection for customers from the hot summer rays of the sun as they move from the outside into the main entry. The architectural magnificence overwhelms their senses as the structure rises above them. The influence of Frank Lloyd Wright now becomes clearly evident with the native materials delicately turning massiveness into beauty and elegance. This is clearly Robb & Stucky at its best.

The architectural integrity of the facility, all 115,000 square feet of it, is uncompromised. This is called market domination. It is positioning Robb & Stucky as the absolute leader. The initial visual spectacle defies what the mind is receiving from the eyes. The attention to detail is absolutely everywhere. It seems that the structure itself draws people inside... deeper and deeper into the retail playground of Robb & Stucky.

Any way you turn, you are greeted with warmth and comfort. A quick look at the floor plan gives a hint to the vastness of the shopping adventure. There are approximately eighteen different departments in the store and each flows smoothly from one to the next. The store is easy to get around. From the entrance there is the famed Robb & Stucky "Aisle of Style", nicknamed in this store "Main Street". It is the main passage from the entrance to the back of the store, where the Design Studio at Robb & Stucky is housed. To the right in the main entry, you can enter "Special Places", a unique section of the store that highlights the Sonoran ambiance which is parochial to the Southwest. There is no other store which will show off this unique furniture as will Robb & Stucky. The attention to detail in the interior display is astounding. The adobe walls, the wood-topped roofs, the tile flooring... all add to the psychological nurturing of positive value in the space.

Beyond "Special Places" one enters "Gracious Living", featuring the exclusive Ralph Lauren Collection, one of the most stunning in the nation. From the signature leather sleigh bed to the gorgeous main room in the northern tower section of the store, floored in rare wormy chestnut, commercially extinct but recycled from an old building, this is the Ralph Lauren statement in the West.

From here, one flows easily into "Grandma's Attic", a wonderful collection of accents, tables, accessories and the like, housed in one of the most delightful rooms anywhere. Again, the attention to detail, with the wonderful Moroccan shutter cabinets, add awe to a visually exciting shipping experience.

As one proceeds back to "Main Street, we can go back to the entrance and proceed to the left, or South, and enter "Relaxed Living", a foundation for the Phoenician lifestyle. This is where Marge Carson resides, where Drexel Heritage rests, where Furguson-Copeland lives, where E.J. Victor invites guests to come, sit and visit. And it is where, like the rest of the store, seventy (70%) percent of the goods are exclusive to Robb & Stucky.

None are set in galleries. All are set to extraordinary settings, where lighting and music change with the "Living Group" you enter. So, as one proceeds into "Contemporary Living", the mood changes smoothly with what meets both the eyes and the ears of the customer.

From "Contemporary Living" we proceed back to "Main Street" and enter the "Atrium". This is the center for the famed Robb & Stucky "Artists In The Atrium" series. Artists from around the world will be presenting their creative wares on a weekly basis in this part of the store.

Proceeding on "Main Street" from the "Atrium" we enter the "Fountain Court". It is the intersection to "Easy Living" to the North; the "Design Studio at Robb & Stucky" to the West; and the spectacular "Leather Living" to the South. And when we say spectacular, nothing can prepare the visitor for the visual experience as they enter the main room of "Leather Living". Larger than most furniture stores, this room is beyond belief. You can literally smell the hides. The old world Spanish influence overwhelms the senses. The overhanging balconies, high above the leather selection which rests on a beautiful wood floor offers an unbelievable visual delight. This is again, pure Robb & Stucky. And just to the west of this is the entrance to "Home Office". And as you proceed further, and before you enter the impressive floor covering department, one comes to the community room, available for local groups, clubs and charities for meetings and special events, free of charge. It seats 100 comfortably. It is also where the famed Robb & Stucky "Seminar" Series is conducted.

Through the floor covering department, we again enter "Main Street" just West of "Fountain Court" and find ourselves at the "Claudia Café". This is where all congregate for coffees, lemonade, fresh breads and hot cookies.

Yet this seems like only the beginning. There is "R&S Kids", featuring the finest in youth furniture including Stanley; "Custom Express", providing express custom seating for your home, with the fabric you want...on the frame you desire... delivered to your home within four weeks. It is another Robb & Stucky exclusive. Then there is the bedding department and the outdoor furniture department and... it is more than a furniture store. It is an adventure. It is a cathedral of retail. It is truly America's great home furnishings and interior design store. Because no matter what people tell you about it, you simply won't believe your eyes.

60 HOURS...To Grand Opening Success
The Producing of Robb & Stucky's New Television Campaign

The creation of an effective advertising campaign must begin with solid strategic planning. In the case of Robb & Stucky's new store in Scottsdale, AZ, a solid understanding of the client, the client's history, the client's history in that particular market and the market itself had to be taken into consideration.

Robb & Stucky has been the pioneer of "branding" in home furnishings retail. No one should be confused that it is the name Robb & Stucky that sells, not one of the singular, particular products in the store. Therefore, we begin this journey knowing that the brand has been set...the brand has been established...and the brand has been maintained, continuously and religiously over the past two decades, just as it was done since their entry into the Phoenix DMA just three short years ago where they have taken a commanding leadership position.

How could they move from non-existent to the top in three short years? In truth, it all starts at the top. Clive Lubner is THE visionary of home furnishings retail at Robb & Stucky and quite possibly the world. He gently pushes, prods, cajoles, suggests to those who want to succeed and is rewarded with excellence. His people skills are exceptional and has allowed the advertising mission to run full speed with wide guidelines. And, the bible has been written. Robb & Stucky's base position has always been to dominate at least one advertising medium. Local department stores and food stores will dominate the newspaper. Not that it works for them any longer, but strong newspaper positioning is tradition with those categories. Robb & Stucky believes in television as the core media. They can dominate that medium. In each of their markets, television is the first line of communications. When they entered Phoenix just three short years ago, the building of name recognition was forever integrated into the public's perception of who they are. "Quality In Every Detail" has been the trademark of the company since 1980. When they came to Arizona, the establishment of that message along with "theatre" (an ever present excitement that made this a different and extraordinary type of retail establishment) positioned them as a "destination shopping experience".

The greater Phoenix marketplace changes during the summer. It is hot. It is a time when people go on vacation to cooler places. But it is a big metropolitan area. And newly emerging metro areas are not captive to the past. There are a lot of new opinions. There are a lot of different lifestyles. Not everyone goes to the mountains. However, this would be the first time a major retailer would move its operation away from the core of commerce (in a traditional population sense) and take it to a seemingly remote area north and east. Located on Scottsdale Road, a very identifiable street in the market, and geographically far north of the supposed center of retail (Scottsdale and Camelback Roads), Robb & Stucky's new location meant that a decided effort would have to be made to identify that. All this had to be placed into a strategic thought process, and then refined, in an attempt to create such excitement that people would travel miles to participate in the experience. After all, that is what "destination shopping" means.

The creative hinged around "excitement" and around a new tagline "America's Great Home Furnishings and Interior Design Store". Along with a sub-tag "And you won't believe your eyes", the combination of both created just that...excitement and considerable energy... positive energy.

For months people commuting to and from their homes passed this large (115,000 sq. ft.) facility rising elegantly out of the middle of the vacant desert. Six months before it was to open, temporary signs went up (within tough code restrictions) announcing the building's identification. It was bigger than most could imagine a furniture store to be. This helped with another aspect of the creative. "Rising out of the desert" became an important local tie to the community. It was becoming part of their lives. It was their own. And each of the new commercials would begin with that statement.

But how to announce this to the world became an interesting strategy issue. A campaign couldn't begin too early because it would have a tendency to become stale. It was decided to gamble on the "big event" theory. The introduction would be made with a "roadblock" technique (buying all of the stations in the market at a specific time and block everything else from that moment of advertising) the Wednesday evening before the grand opening on Saturday. The first commercial would be a big, sixty (:60) second commercial telling all about the fabulous new shopping experience they would encounter. But to make matters even more complicated, the store would not be ready to film until the Monday before the Wednesday it was to air. The new store was so different from anything Robb & Stucky had done previously, and filled with so many new highlights that it was essential that the commercials captured the excitement and dynamic visual imprint of this new facility.

Two weeks prior to the film shoot, a test run was made for a corporate board meeting, on video tape. Very little product was in the store at the time. But it did provide a blueprint for how and when the various parts of the store could be shot. It also provided a backdrop for clothes and color selection for the talent. But to all, it provided the ability to capture the excitement that this new facility could generate. The investment of this test shoot was well worth the modest cost. It helped eliminate many possible pitfalls and advanced many positive camera angles.

Talent was selected from a large pool base. With Southern California so close, and Phoenix a major talent market, the selection process actually took over four weeks.

At 5AM on Monday, the film crew began it's first shots outside of the facility during the early morning's "golden hour"(Video tape is not considered for commercial work in home furnishings because it cannot and does not transfer the warmth of casegood's finishes nor the richness of the fabric textures or leather comfort). The newest Eastman Kodak 35mm, high speed, negative stock was selected by Sean Hanish, the award winning Los Angeles based film and commercial director.

Lance Benefield is easily the most experienced film crew in the world when it comes to home furnishings. This film shoot would test their experience, abilities and capabilities. The cast and crew (21 people) filmed throughout the day, and express shipped that day's work to Hollywood, CA, for overnight processing, color correction and transfer and shipment back to Phoenix the following day. The second day's shoot was completed, processed, color corrected and transferred and shipped back likewise for Wednesday morning's post production digital edit under the direction of Sharon Peppers, post production supervisor. Digital audio had been completed and mixed two days prior to the digital video edit. All of the television stations (including all available cable network insertion possibilities) were put on standby for late afternoon delivery of the commercials to air as early as 7PM, Wednesday evening. All of the computer logs at the stations had to be ready to accept this late entry into their schedules. The broadcast and cable outlets were very accommodating and anxious to participate in this historic advertising endeavor.

Imagine, shot on film, not videotape, processed, color corrected, transferred and edited within sixty hours for air.

One question has been raised. Why begin advertising these new commercials on Wednesday? Rochelle Anderson, LB/FRANZEN Media Management, the media analyzing and placement subsidiary of Lance Benefield & Co., explained. "On that particular week, the Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend, the last of the first run television shows would air. These marked the season's final episodes of many of the favorite television shows. On Thursday, all prime time programming would be reruns, and thus lose much of their traditional audiences.

Although this was a gamble, as the time constraints to produce the commercials and get them on the air were doubled, the gamble was worth it." Audience levels were at their highest.

One other note. For a week and one-half prior to this Wednesday debut, a series of ten (:10) second teaser commercials ran continuously in the market announcing "You won't believe your eyes". It generated the excitement that was needed to launch this new campaign.

On Wednesday, one Sixty (:60) second, three Thirty (:30) second, one Fifteen (:15) second and three Ten (:10) second commercials were finished and delivered to the stations. That evening, as if nothing in the world had happened during the previous sixty hours, Robb & Stucky's new "Rising Out Of The Desert" commercials aired.

Over 40,000 people shopped at Robb & Stucky's new location during it's first eight weeks.

Sales resulted in historic highs, larger than anyone had ever dreamed. And the amazing thing was this: not one mention of the word "sale" was used.

As Lance Benefield's Senior Vice President, Paula J. Snyder, stated upon completion, "That's our job!".

Lance G. Hanish is the President of Lance Benefield & Co., Inc. Worldwide, a leading marketing communications firm serving home furnishings retailers. Questions on any aspect of television media management or production can be direct to Mr. Hanish care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at lhanish@furninfo.com.