The Power List x A Season of Luxury | Zia Zareem-Slade, Customer Experience Director at Fortnum & Mason

Dedicated to ‘ensuring the future history of Fortnum’s’, today’s Power List (and Season of Luxury) profile features Zia Zareem-Slade, Customer Experience Director at Fortnum & Mason, whose passion for the iconic store – and its abundance of exciting storytelling opportunities – even extends to her Christmas plans, from a festive breakfast at Fortnum’s 45 Jermyn St. to ice skating and hot chocolate at their Somerset House lodge…

The Power List

HOW DO YOU USE THE DNA OF YOUR BRAND TO TELL NEW AND EXCITING STORIES?

An anthropologist would tell you that storytelling is central to human existence, cultures and societies so it’s not surprising that we wish to share stories with our guests, customers and advocates.

Our DNA (or spirit) is what powers us every day. We seek out and create the most extraordinary food, joy-giving things and unforgettable experiences, and deliver that through exceptional service. We’re all incredibly passionate about doing that day in and day out, and ensuring the future history of Fortnum’s – the outcome of that endeavour is that we have many stories to tell. Not just new stories – such as our development and innovation in Sparkling Tea – but the ‘old’ ones, since stories of the past have their role too. For example our Royal Blend tea exists today as a result of a personal request from King Edward VII for a stronger blend, and it is that heritage which gives credence to why we care about creating Sparkling Tea, or our new Celebration blend.

In addition, we have a history of beautiful copywriting and visual presentation, in particular that of Hugh Stuart Menzies, whose advertising agency held the Fortnum’s account in the 1930s. His wit, love of words and appreciation of artists such as W Hendy and Edward Bawden defined the Fortnum & Mason Commentaries, lavishly illustrated direct mail booklets where every preconceived idea of a trade catalogue was disregarded.

It’s a high benchmark that we strive to match and ensure our work is archive-worthy.

HOW DO YOU CONTINUE TO USE STORYTELLING TO SURPRISE AND DELIGHT CUSTOMERS?

We’re in a fortunate position we’re we are awash with stories, both in narrative and visual form. So the challenge often is which stories to tell, through which channels and in which formats.

Whether it’s ‘The Journal’ at fortnumandmason.com, social media, advertising, in-store or packaging, embedding stories and narratives throughout is the way the brand is expressed and we’re constantly testing and learning about how our audiences engage with our content. Most recently we have created a series of films in various lengths and distributed through various channels, which is having a really positive impact and bringing to life the brand in a different way:

https://www.fortnumandmason.com/fortnums/the-fortnums-hamper-video

https://www.fortnumandmason.com/fortnums/the-fortnums-tea-video


We launched an advertising campaign sometime ago called ‘Only Fortnum’s’ which was all about sharing our stories – from our invention of the Scotch Egg, to launching Heinz Baked Beanz in the UK, to nurturing the early careers of Salvatore Ferragamo and Yves St Laurent, to the yearly announcement of the arrival of Elvas Plums, we realised we had all these stories that would capture people’s imaginations if only we shared them.

A Season of Luxury

How will you be celebrating Christmas this year?
With family, in London. It’s lovely as everywhere is that little bit quieter and you can’t beat a stroll across Hampstead Heath.

Your favourite Christmas tradition?
Taking my daughter to  45 Jermyn St. to have Highland scramble followed by seeing Father Christmas at Fortnum’s and finishing off with skating at Somerset House – a perfect festive day.

Favourite festive film or song?
I can’t have just one… I love Those J I N G L E Bells by Frank Sinatra, followed by A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi and for a really fun time, you can’t beat The Night before Christmas by none other than The Hoff.

Best place to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere?
The Fortnum’s Lodge, post ice skate at Somerset House with a hot chocolate – and optional rum!

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