IT has been 22 years since Irving Shulman shortened the name of his discount clothing chain from Daffy Dan’s to Daffy’s in a bid to class up the brand, which was known for goofy marketing stunts like perching mannequins on the roof so passers-by would run in to warn of suicide jumpers, then hopefully stay for the bargains.
Today Daffy’s is one of the oldest operating discount chains in the Northeast. But lately it has found itself in competition with some unlikely rivals: luxury department stores like Saks and Neiman Marcus that have started advertising on Daffy’s turf, stressing low prices over fashion or luxury.
“If you walk down the street, every shop window’s got a discount sign on it now,” said Jan Jacobs, co-founder of Johannes Leonardo, Daffy’s new creative agency, which is backed by the WPP Group. Daffy’s has had a firm hold on the off-price market since it was founded 48 years ago, he said, “but because of the economy and everyone offering discounts, they are disappearing into the background.”
Looking to reclaim the discount mantle, Daffy’s is starting a quirky marketing campaign centered on a contest that will award one person the kind of value not generally associated with a clothing store: a one-year lease on a fully furnished $7,000-a-month apartment in Manhattan’s West Village neighborhood at $700 a month.
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