Cannon rebrand is ready
Karyn Peterson -- Home Textiles Today, March 24, 2003
New York — On the same day last week that Pillowtex announced the appointment of a new chairman and an investment bank to sort out its uncertain future, the company's product development team unveiled a bold new branding initiative culled from the core of the company's past: Cannon bed and bath.
Although Cannon is the most widely recognized home textiles brand — both in the U.S. and abroad — it has over the past decade and a half been perhaps the most ill-tended, a situation Pillowtex executives readily acknowledged. The first major brand to migrate into the mass market, Cannon over the years began to allow its retail accounts to individually dictate its design direction for each chain — a practice that ultimately leeched it of a signature identity.
"Through the 1990s it became more and more an endorser brand, mirroring the retailer's point of view," said Bob Hamilton, vp, advertising.
The process of reinvigorating Cannon began two years ago and involved extensive focus group research among consumers, consultants both inside and outside the home industry and Cannon's international distributors.
"We tried to take a more classic marketing approach to developing the branding," said Michael Gannaway, who last week replaced outgoing chairman and ceo David Perdue. Gannaway joined the company six months ago as president and coo.
Pillowtex found that what the brand meant to consumers "was predicated on its having been in their households for a long time, and often in the homes of their mothers and grandmothers," Hamilton said.
The key branding points Pillowtex walked away from the research with were: heritage, wide availability, good value, reliability and comfort, he said.
"It was a platform we already owned — tradition without the starch," said Gretchen Dale, vp design and new product development.
The revised Cannon bed and bath brand has incorporated those elements in a collection rooted in classic American designs, whether culled from Amish quilts, Southern calico prints or Western frontier fabrics.
The new Cannon program is extensive and multi-tiered, extending through bedding, blankets, utility and bath. The original Cannon company logo has been updated and appears on a fabric tag stitched onto nearly every sku.
Solid color sheeting includes a core Cannon group of 250-count cotton/microdenier blend sheets with a self hem and double needle stitching in colors with evocative American handles such as picket fence and red barn. The step-up Cannon Crest Sateen solid color sheet is a finely woven 300-count cotton/micro denier blend offering in white, opal, jade, ruby, topaz and sapphire. The upper-tier Cannon Crest sheet is a 300-count Egyptian cotton.
Packaging on print sheet sets in the core group will reference the coordinate solid sheet color and will layer into six comforter sets. Sheet set components have distinct coordinate designs — a gingham, a shirting stripe and a signature check — and packaging allows the pattern of each piece to show through.
"The customer told us she liked coordinated patterns, but she doesn't know how to put them together," Hamilton said.
The core top-of-bed collection includes solid-color outer bedding with face fabrics reversing to coordinating ticking stripe with double needle stitching and bias cording as well as bedspread sets and quilts. Upper-tier Cannon Crest outer bedding features more handcrafted looks: a quilted floral duvet cover with vermicelli outline stitching and a crewelwork pattern embroidered panel on yarn-dye woven gingham
"All the designs are based on actual American documents," said Tom McElroy, division vp, mass merchandise design. "But there's so much in American culture that can live within the context of what's 'American.'"
In bath, the core Cannon towel will be based on the patented Cannon Dry Fast system and will retail at $4.99 for bath. Coordinating fancies will include the Signature Check Border towel and Cannon Chambray as well as coordinate jacquard towel designs for each of the core bedding ensembles. Those will retail at $5.99. Each collection includes a coordinating bath rug.
The Cannon Anniversary Towel is a combed cotton using finer yarns that retails at $4.99.
Pillowtex will also reintroduce an updated version of the Santa Cruz Velour towel, a top selling fancy during the 1970s and '80s. Sheered and fringed in the likeness of the original, it will be offered in ivory, buttercup, tea rose, sail, cardinal red and linen. The coordinating bath rug will be a DuPont Antron nylon yarn with a cut loop border motif.
"The Santa Cruz sold 191 million units from its introduction in 1975 through the time it ended its career in 1989," Hamilton said. "In the late 1970s, we were making a million units a day."
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