In full bloom


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Bloomingdale's chairman and CEO Michael Gould

Bloomingdale's chairman and CEO Michael Gould

Michael Gould doesn’t like getting his photo taken. As we sit in a New York diner themed setting, a photographer buzzes about clicking away in the background.

While the chairman and CEO of the iconic Bloomingdale’s department store brand appears affable and friendly and has a soft Boston accent, his irritation gives an insight into the determination that saw him rise to the top of one of America’s best loved retail empires.

“I don’t care how talented you are… Do you really think you are going to do anything with this face? Gould asks the snapper. “How much do you want to scare your readers? Take one photo.”

Having flown in from the US for an update on Bloomingdale’s Dubai store in Dubai Mall, the retail giant’s first international venture outside its homeland, Gould’s modesty has been tested to the limit as only hours before he was forced to have his photo taken with a four metre tall rubber gorilla.

The King Kong installation was the focal point of the store’s successful ‘New York New York’ 2011 Autumn/Winter marketing push. The six-week campaign was designed to mirror the sights and sounds of the Big Apple and included a range of in-store events and offerings.

Frank Sinatra lyrics illustrated the big city’s unofficial anthem in store windows, a yellow cab car was parked outside the store, and designers such as Diane von Fürstenberg created special items especially for the Dubai outlet.

The campaign caused quite a buzz around the city, not just for the enormous eye catching simian roaring into sight in Dubai Mall, but the appearance of Hollywood actress Eva Longoria, who flew to Dubai to give the opening some star power and attracted crowds of shoppers and celebrity spotters.

While Gould’s in-store appearance was more low key, he is very pleased with the reaction to the campaign, the first of its kind in Dubai and which has upped the game for retailers in the city.

“I would say that there is no question that business has been very good before the event and there has been an incremental lift to business. So, so far we are very pleased from a sales point of view but there are other elements equally important.

“An event like this gives the store enormous energy. I was in the store six months ago and just the difference in the energy level is palpable. The visual impact of the windows is great as it puts more interest in the store.

“Bloomingdale’s is about of the moment and newness… The sales associates themselves, you can see the pride in it. You can’t quantify that in top line sales and bottom line sales,” he gushes.

One of the elements that garnered the campaign such attention, which was designed especially for the Dubai store, was the attention to detail and this was something Gould says he experienced firsthand.

“I saw a bureau with all these chest of drawers and if you make a purchase over AED25 or AED100 or something you can go to this chest and it has six across and ten down drawers. You open it and take out an envelope and in that envelope is an extra AED50 certificate or whatever. Bloomingdale’s is of the moment, Bloomingdale’s is fun,” he adds in an unashamedly American way.

He could easily have been sent a video of the campaign as he only visited the store six months previously, but Gould said he wanted to check it out for himself.

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