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In our ongoing quest to find examples of companies pushing the envelope in integrating their digital strategies with their real-world platforms, we tip our fedoras this week to Jack Wills.

A British fashion label targeting fans of over-priced US imports like Abercrombie and Hollister with distressed plaid, and university-logo style branded tees and hoodies, Jack Wills came onto the scene quietly a few years ago with locations in tony, but tourist-y locations such as Portobello Road, Westbourne Grove, Kings Road, and Kensington.

Now, in a tipping point for targeting more mainstream shoppers, Jack Wills has opened a 3-floor emporium in Covent Garden on the same stretch of Longacre opposite high street staples, Esprit, Gap, and H&M.

But what sets this store apart besides its theme-park interior – is the clever and ubiquitous integration of digital calls-to-action throughout the store.   From QR-codes to crudely- lettered wall paintings invite shoppers to “follow Jack Wills” on Twitter, Jack Wills acknowledges the blurred lines of their young consumers’ lifestyles, shopping, and behavioural patterns.  Staffers are also incented to encourage shoppers to participate in the environment (when a young man named Angus saw me covertly shooting photos of the store interior with my camera phone, he proudly stepped up and launched into a pitch about all of the ‘innovative’ ways shoppers can interact with the brand.  He also told me to be sure to ‘mention his name’ in my tweet and hash-tag it  #jwsummer to gain him more kudos from his bosses and a possible performance-based bonus for ‘most tweeted about employee’!

Jack Wills

To solidify the brand’s positioning to the aspiring country club set, a wall banner invited users to access exclusive video of the store’s recent Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket openings.  To be part of the Jack Wills community means to have a connection with like-minded lovers of the brand across the Atlantic, and a vicarious all-access pass to some of the most exclusive summer resorts in the world.

The basement lounge level of the store boasts comfy couches, hang-out space, wifi, and a stage on which (according to Angus),  bands will periodically perform.  Retail space as third place, as theatre, and as digitally-enabled environment that extends all the way to the US.  Consistent with this “store-as-performance-space” theme, Jack Wills sister brand, Aubin & Wills has entered a collaboration with Soho House to open the Aubin Cinema – a sparsely merchandised, but beautiful store in Shoreditch with a movie theatre in the basement.

All of these physical locations becomes nodes in the Jack Wills network, which along with ubiquitous and consistent presence on social networks like Facebook and Twitter enables the brand to integrate with all aspects of their young consumers’ lives:  their musical tastes, their film preferences, not to mention their fashion likes and dislikes.

We’ll be tracking this brand’s evolution, and advising clients to pay close attention as well to what could well be one of the first success cases in 360-degree lifestyle branding in the age of realtime.

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