Ann Summers mulls national ads

Sex toys and lingerie retailer Ann Summers is considering launching its first national advertising campaign by Christmas, following the success of a regional pilot scheme.

The retailer tested radio ads last November in three areas. Last month, it launched its first outdoor campaign with a billboard blitz running until Valentine's Day.

The tongue-in-cheek pilot has run in Hull, Lancaster and Ipswich, with advertising messages localised for each region such as 'Horny as Hull' and 'Lancashire Hot Bot'.

Ann Summers marketing and brand development executive Rebecca Franklin said the billboard campaign has proved most effective. 'Ann Summers is a visual brand,' she said.

Franklin said the reasons for the advertising launch are twofold. 'It's a combination of raising brand awareness and supporting the huge expansion of Ann Summers,' she said.

By Christmas 2003, about 75 per cent of Ann Summers' planned 100 stores will be less than two years old. The retailer has 80 shops, while a new store design, introduced last year, will be installed in up to 10 existing outlets this year.

Ann Summers has also linked up with Sony to produce and sell the Ann Summers Sex Album. The album, an alternative to sickly sweet love compilations, has entered the charts.

Franklin heralded it as the beginning of a number of planned brand extensions for Ann Summers.