Like many NYU students this week, I woke up to multiple Snapchat stories of Astor Place’s newest edition: a giant inflatable bear. Now removed, the patterned Cube’s onlooker was Burberry’s signature mascot, Thomas Bear, named after the brand’s founder Thomas Burberry.
As the city buzzed with the excitement of New York Fashion Week, Burberry seized the opportunity to publicize its recent rebranding. Though it may seem odd to promote fashion on Astor Place, it’s not the first time this New York staple has housed installations like Burberry’s. Astor Place has become a hotspot for pop-up installations and sculptures, such as the three rhinos that graced Astor in recent months to draw attention to the endangered species.
“Every time something happens on Astor, it immediately becomes a center of attention and everyone starts posting about it,” said Gallatin Sophomore Yotam Ponte, which is exactly why Thomas Bear made his three-day debut on Sept. 6
According to William Lewis, the Marketing and Events manager of the non-profit organization, Village Alliance, Burberry paid between $5,000 and $20,000 each day as a New York City fee, and anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 daily for the Village Alliance fee. This may seem expensive, but it’s a small price to pay for a luxury brand — especially for one trying to show the world a new side. The bear also benefited the community, Lewis said, attracting global attention and money for the Village Alliance to give back to the community.
“All the money we take from hiring the plaza to the likes of Burberry goes straight into creating free community programming,” he said.
Like many legendary brands, Burberry recently began to reshuffle its image in hopes of resonating with a new generation of fashion— spreading the message of its rebrand through marketing the new logo in Astor Place and on beach umbrellas in Shelter Island, trams in Hong Kong, a facade in Seoul, taxi-cabs in London and a twin inflatable bear in Shanghai. Each advertisement has been shared on the brand’s and Chief Creative Officer Riccardo Tisci’s social media accounts tagged under #newera. Ironically, New York’s Thomas Bear ended its era in just three days, only visiting from Sept. 6 to Sept. 8. Under Tisci the brand released its new logo and monogram in early August for the first time in almost 20 years. Tisci’s first collection is scheduled to debut in London next week.
What should we expect in the #newera? Well, Thomas Bear of Astor Place — rest in peace — has got us all talking.
Email Elif Kesikbas at [email protected]