Burberry’s Angela Ahrendts to Head Apple Retail Operations

Angela Ahrendts_Creative Wisdom

Apple has had its fair share of transitions in its retail operations recently.

Tim Cook's announcement# the company chose a top digital/retail performer in the luxury brands arena to head both online and store operations last night has quickly made the rounds both in the fashion and tech worlds.

According to The Guardian#, Cook is banking on Ahrendts' experience building a global network of
stores to build Apple's position as a global luxury brand, particularly
in China where Burberry has grown rapidly while the tech company has

High Fashion, High Tech

While it was Rose Marie Bravo (formerly of Saks Fifth Avenue) to initiate a series of changes that repositioned Burberry by targeting a younger and higher-end audience when she became CEO in 1997 (same year Apple's Steve Jobs unveiled the new iMac), the Ahrendts-Bailey (Burberry's Chief Creative Officer) duo took the brand to the next level by integrating digital# and social.

A year ago, in a video interview with CNN Money#, Ahrendts talked about her collaboration with Bailey and the revamping of the marketing department by adding technologists. A social media director was hired two years later.

As Ahrendts noted in the video interview, the luxury retail market is about 15 years younger in many parts of Asia.

One of the first moves by Burberry to appeal to millennials, was creating the ‘Art of Trench’, a digital presence that allowed people signed onto Facebook Connect to upload their pictures while wearing a Burberry trench coat.

The idea was to use word of mouth and personal connections to help spread images reflecting personal style across the globe.

Art of the Trench
In 2009, Scott Schuman, author of The Sartorialist, a street style
fashion blog I have been following for a few years, kicked off the campaign to set the tone of the images#.

As reported by WWD# on September 13 of this year, Burberry took further strides in the digital universe by pushing its spring women’s show in London out across
11 social networks, its own digital flagship and through 13 live-streams
on outdoor screens set up in locales from New York’s Times Square to
Hong Kong’s Worldwide House

The push was part of a partnership with Apple, featuring the tech giant’s iPhone 5S.
The idea was to use Apple's 5S exclusively to capture images and video before, during and after the show, and
Twitter’s real-time reach resulted in tens of millions of impressions
for content relating to the event

All the brand's social presences were integrated in the show. Some numbers from the WWD post:

  • models Cara Delevingne and Jourdan Dunn posed for and posted
    personalized messages to Burberry’s more than 2.6 million Twitter
  • a 15-second finale video on Instagram garnered nearly 18,000 likes in a matter of hours
  • the content was disseminated through the social networks where Burberry
    maintains a presence — including Instagram (960,000 followers), Facebook (16.5 million fans), Twitter (2.2 million followers to the general stream),
    Google+ (3.2 million followers), YouTube (83k subscribers), Pinterest (63k followers), LinkedIn (about 102k followers), Japan’s Sumally and China’s Sina
    Weibo, Douban and Youku
  • a screen in Times Square live-streamed the show, as did 11 additional screens along Cromwell Road in London and one in Hong Kong

From tweetwalks to fashion shows on Facebook to digital experiences in the company's flagship store in London, Burberry continues to blur the line between digital and physical, getting more personal with RFID product tags and communications.

It will be fascinating to see the kind of positive human energy Ahrendts will bring to life at Apple. This single data point is the one that peaks my interest the most. 

“Energy can quickly unite, align, and bring promise.We need more leaders willing to deliver on the promise of human connection. Success does indeed create success. Another point Ahrendts makes in the talk is about humanizing technology, a topic I am most passionate about.

I have been operating professionally without a mentor for the good part of the last ten years. As a woman in an often all- or mostly-male tech world, it has been particularly hard to be heard.

Watching this inspiring TEDx Hollywood talk# left me craving for creative wisdom in action. I endeavor to be and become the type of leader, coach, and mentor who makes a difference.

More links to news reports, courtesy of Fortune Tech#.



Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover
the value of promises and its effect on relationships and
. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.