Brisbane L!VE: How Michael Hill used heritage to rebrand

Ashley Regan
By Ashley Regan | 1 November 2022
Jo Feeney at L!VE

When Jo Feeney stepped into her role as Michael Hill CMO 18 months ago she had big plans to rebrand the tired jewellery business.

Asking herself “What does Michael Hill want to be famous for?” she realised that sometimes marketing is about looking back to look forward.

“In March 2021 the brand had a lot of pink and lilac, it didn't feel like a fine jewellery brand," Feeney said on stage at AdNews' Brisbane L!VE.

"And that certainly didn't align with the aspirational brand journey that we are on as a business. 

“So when I dug around and started to explore what Michael Hill is all about, I saw a brand that was really etched in creativity and craft.”

Wife and co-owner of Michael Hill, Christine Hill originally designed the retail windows in the 80s, frequently featuring live chickens; these designs would never pass today, but showed Feeney the brand's creative roots. 

“When I started I realised we hadn't actually told our Bible story,” she said, “and it was a real shock to me that no one had talked about our brand’s heritage.

“It felt like a really beautiful opportunity for me to tap into the heritage and emotion, as there's a beautiful story that needs to be told."

So Michael Hill engaged OMD and CHEP Network Brisbane to bring that origin story to life.

Feeney: “I always say to my team, you tell someone a story, they're far more likely to remember that story than if you tell them a bullet point list of things. 

“We had to really believe that the power of storytelling could differentiate us from others in the market.

“We actioned this by launching an iconic piece of long-form film which told our origin story like no one has seen before, focusing very much on the deep love between Christine and Michael.

“And how that creativity and that love actually permeates everything we do."

Watch the film here: 

“To bring the film to life we again did things we haven't done before as a brand, such as advertising in disruptive locations like Marie Claire Australia, Rocky Mountain Brides in Canada and Fashion Quarterly in New Zealand. 

“Once upon a time, we wouldn't have shown up in these places and we wouldn't have been talking to such different audiences, but we now know where we need to engage on this journey. 

“This is a five year path to see shift. But we're already starting to see changing perceptions of the brand.

“With a brand transformation it’s so important to keep measuring and monitoring, which is why we now use brand tracking, so we're measuring the impacts we're having.”

#L!VE Brisbane is powered by supporting partners The Trade Desk, LiSTNR, Ryvalmedia, Resolution Digital, Quantcast, News Corp QLD, and Boomtown. And associate partners, MiQ and Amobee. And co-curators, BADC, BAA and Wrappt.

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