AWSI: RH = Really Happening? Perhaps, WT-RH…


Talk about pausing and pondering (see AWSI: The Pause that Triggers), what the heck is RH up to besides running a 2-page ad to promote a “Grey Card” membership program that will set you back $100.

To start, what’s a “RH”?

With some digging, we found out those are the initials of high-end retailer, Restoration Hardware. If you open up a browser and type in, you get


Landing page, first visit.

Landing page after clicking RH Grey Card box.

Landing page after clicking RH Grey Card box.

Landing page top menu.

Landing page top menu.

From the landing page, it looks like they’ve branded around their initials: RH Modern, RH Baby & Child, RH Teen and RH Contemporary Art merchandise.

If you jump to the About, which is at the bottom menu (lots of scrolling), to the farthest right, you can click and learn this:

Restoration Hardware is a luxury brand in the home furnishings marketplace offering furniture, lighting, textiles, bathware, décor, outdoor and garden, as well as baby & child products. RH operates an integrated business with multiple channels of distribution including Galleries, Source Books and websites.

RH bottom menu.

RH bottom menu.

Our first thought was perhaps the saying is true — if you have to ask, you can’t afford it, right?

But to us, it seems like they wasted a prime opportunity to introduce themselves to “moneyed” consumers unfamiliar with the RH brand. Adding some quick clarifications in a format that is familiar could have gone a long way towards helping them get the message to breakthrough rather than be skipped over.

Hint: Try this — Restoration Hardware (RH) introduces the RH Grey Card…

See? How hard is that?

After More Pondering…

We stepped away from writing this piece for a few hours and returned with a thought: Could RH be their stock symbol?

So, again, we scrolled way the heck down on the landing page and found Investor Relations. Click and there was the answer.

Investor relations page.

Investor relations page.


So surely, there’s a formal announcement somewhere on their site that we can reference for this post.

Uh… maybe not.

When we Googled, we got a few hits but nothing official from the company OR on the company’s website.

We did find this, which certainly reads like an announcement.

Trade publication covers "the card."

Trade publication covers “the card.”

Here’s a similar write-up.

But why wasn’t it on their own website? Furthermore, the Press section showed coverage that is a year or more old.

What the??

Brain breaking it is. None of this makes sense. A new initiative such as this $100 membership (has its privileges) card should have some launch materials, instead of what just looks to be a “sign up here” page on their website.

Not only is it ignored on their own site, but nobody except a staff writer from the Tampa Bay Times, Justine Griffin, has written about them. Here’s a notable quotable from her piece:

Then on March 13, RH ran a two-page advertisement in the main news section of the New York Times. Both pages are gray in color, true to RH style, and in it Friedman (Chairman & CEO Gary Friedman) pens a letter to customers urging them to sign up for the RH Grey Card. For $100 a year, members get 25 percent off savings, among other perks. In Friedman’s letter, he paints a picture of a busy, tech-driven world, one that RH is desperately trying to make simpler…

Altogether weird.

Regarding the TL:ADR (Too Long: Almost Didn’t Read) copy, we (and Dossie in particular) were appalled that they are using Albert Einstein to sell this special $100 membership card.

Out of clutter, find simplicity.

Think about it. Does that scream high-end luxury brand…

You could just as well say that about The Container Store.

And there’s more…

The extensive copy in that ad, the letter from Friedman, it seems that the the beneficiary of this new Grey Card is… the company.

Until now we’ve found ourselves, like others, victims of our own history. Spending countless hours planning and promoting sale after sale — and not enough time doing the things we love.
We’re passionate about products not promotions…

The benefit to the customer — shop for what you want, when you want it and you’ll get “everyday” discount of 25% once you commit to the $100 membership fee.

A "follow-me" ad for the card.

A “follow-me” ad for the card.

Personally, we’d like to see how they plan on “not promoting” the products they are so passionate about.


A bigger problem we noticed is that RH as in Restoration Hardware is often confused with Pottery Barn (as in PB), a brand within the Williams-Sonoma umbrella.

Pottery Barn was built on the idea that home furnishings should be exceptional in comfort, quality, style and value. Originally founded in 1948, the brand was acquired by Williams-Sonoma, Inc. in 1986, when it expanded its scope to include furniture, accessories and decorating advice for every room in the home. Featuring exclusive products – many designed by in-house artists and crafted in the USA – Pottery Barn inspires great style for spaces small and large, effortless entertaining for every occasion, and thoughtful gifting year round.

That there may be confusion is definitely not good. What limited “promotions” RH is doing, like running 2-page ads, will not achieve the desired objective of gaining sign-ups, if it drives business to its alleged sister store.

Pottery Barn's about page.

Pottery Barn’s about page.

We think RH should spend some time and energy breaking themselves away from the Pottery Barn perception…er, mis-perception.

Further, Furthermore…

Upon further review, we found that RH really doesn’t have a social media presence. Maybe they’ve determined that their target audience isn’t “into” Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc.

However, that company they get confused with, Pottery Barn, has a very active social media presence.

Pottery Barn's social media links.

Pottery Barn’s social media links.

See for yourself:

Yeah… we don’t get it. This ad seems like such a weak attempt to garner interest and ultimately sales.

AWSI, Restoration Hardware (RH) should consider creating some materials really extolling the benefits of spending the $100. They should also make a concerted effort to breakaway / distance themselves from Pottery Barn. And, by all means, get out and brief the media — not just a few “friendlies” in the trade community, but ones that are respected on the national and business side.

These things— basic blocking and tackling —shouldn’t be skipped or re-imagined.

Carpe Moment, Mr. Friedman!

And as for you readers, please let us know what you think.

-The Gang

Pinterest example worth exploring.

Pinterest example worth exploring.

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