How Spiegel Recovered
Part and parcel of the revamped Spiegel catalog are sections of the book that include stories and take a strong point of view, all designed to help customers dress and style — what Madonna refers to as "reality dressing. It's all about being fabulous at any age," she says. "Real people, real style, real issues — all showing how Spiegel can help at any age. A makeover in print. [The Spiegel customer] has great style and looks to us for advice and inspiration to create her personal style through the way she dresses. She wants advice on how to do that, and that's what we give her."
The revamping of the Spiegel catalog takes a cue from Madonna's prior effort in 2002 to make over Newport News and turn it into a fashion-forward magalog format. For instance, impulse-driven accessory sections contain advice from stylists. Likewise, in the travel section, which also has performed well for Spiegel, the catalog offers ways to travel with packable items.
In addition to revamping the Spiegel catalog, Madonna actively has sought positive public relations in the consumer media to return it to its former prominent public image. In fact, by modeling some of Spiegel catalog's turnaround efforts on what she did with the Newport News book's repositioning and moving the Spiegel operations into Newport News' headquarters, "It appears that the company has sort of flipped from the way it used to be under the old Spiegel Group," says Fingerhut's vice president of new business development, Scott Weiland, who served as Spiegel's director of new customer acquisition and new business development from 1999 to 2002.
Although Weiland says he's gotten "positive vibes" on the revived Spiegel catalog to this point, he adds, "If I had any concerns, it would be how distinctive a brand Spiegel is compared to Newport."