Crikey would be remiss if it didn’t pause to reflect on Megan Gale’s retirement from the catwalk. We lend our voice to the chorus of media chiming in to say so long, farewell.

It happened, finally, says The Age‘s Larissa Dubecki, “just when it seemed that Megan Gale’s adieu to the catwalk was turning into John Farnham’s never-ending, ‘it’s nearly the last time, I promise’, farewell tour.”

Last night in Melbourne, the David Jones “brand ambassador” said a final goodbye to a career of sashaying. She’d said a preliminary goodbye in Sydney two weeks ago, also sparking rapturous applause and a flood of stories across mainstream press. No-one, it seems, can resist Gale’s charms and a photo op.

But this isn’t so much goodbye as au revoir. Gale will continue in her representative role for DJs and will still appear in its ads and catalogues. 

Increasingly, Megan Gale is David Jones (in fact, it is surprisingly difficult not to type “Megan Jones”). Her face is a direct link to the brand. Unlike Myer’s broad, Jennifer Hawkins, her endorsement is not diluted by her affiliation with myriad other brands. And every mention of her new role as Wonder Woman is just icing on the fat-free cake.

Her farewell tour has become one long, free ad for the store, a parting gift from Gale. Every moment has been met with a media spike. A preview of the goodbye in Sydney; the goodbye itself. A preview of the goodbye in Melbourne; the goodbye itself.

Since 20 February, she’s had 1,692 mentions in the press, an extraordinary 1,305 of them on TV, the most expensive medium. That doesn’t include the Sydney farewell, or the press fall-out from Melbourne which looks set to continue. Media Monitors pulled together the figures:

Press

 Radio

TV

Internet

Total

Megan Gale

108

133

1,305

146

1,692

For every Megan Gale reference, there has been a David Jones mention, and usually a quick listing of the brands on show — Sass & Bide, Akira Isogawa, Lisa Ho, etc — all of it padded out with superlatives.

The value for David Jones is difficult to tally, but a quick look suggests millions.

For a prime time ad slot of 30 seconds with a major network across the nation, including regional affiliates — many of the stories appeared in the nightly news — you’d be looking at $50,000, according to Steve Allen, managing director of Fusion Strategy. That’s at a “deal rate” for a major advertiser like David Jones.

As for press, Megan Gale covered half of the front page of the Herald Sun today followed by a full-page, pic-heavy feature on page 11.  The base rate for a full page ad in the  Herald Sun is around $33,000. And just try getting advertising splashed across the cover.

In my experience, DJs is “pretty entrepreneurial — they drive a hard bargain — if they sign anyone, they are going to get value”, says Allen. Gale and Hawkins can both “generate publicity, Megan perhaps a bit more so.” Indeed.

With Gale on board, DJs continues its golden run. On 11 February, it announced its ever-onward-and-upward results:

• 1H08 Profit after Tax (PAT) Guidance increased to $87.5 – $89 million – representing 23% – 25% underlying growth on 1H07 (updated from previous guidance of 8% – 13% growth).

• 2Q08 Total Sales of $664.0 million vs. $607.3 million in 2Q07 – this equates to growth of 9.3% (2Q08 LFL Sales growth 7.6%). 

Gale’s contract is up for renewal in 2009 and she’ll need no protection from AWAs.

The real question is, what will Jennifer Hawkins do next to wrest back the headlines?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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