Louis Vuitton, the perfect mastery of communication for luxury brands?

If I have approached various topics in my blog, I still didn’t mention the brand that is considered like the best in marketing strategy. The famous monogram is well known worldwilde, I am talking of course of Louis Vuitton. Founded in 1854, the fashion house is nowadays  one of the world’s leading international fashion houses. Originaly known for its trunks, Louis Vuitton logically built its reputation upon travel experience. Innovation and elegance are also part of its DNA. It succeeds to offer a wide range of products that combine modern and traditional. This represents a real strength of Louis Vuitton. This combination is visible through its different campaigns. Another strength is the capacity to excel across virtually all channels, as well in terms of digital, where LV represents a precursor. If the luxury industry in 2015 has still a lot to learn about web 2.0 but Louis Vuitton already understood it for few years and used it as a powerful communication tool. The perfect illustration of that took place in 2011, when Louis Vuitton decided for the first time to stream a fashion show in live on Ipads and Iphones. Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief of Luxury Daily, New York declared about LV communication strategy : “It has also been equally trailblazing in the use of social media, online and mobile, while maintaining the highest standards in print advertising,”. Print, online, Mobile and social media, the company develops a multichannel strategy that meshes traditional and new media to create fully realized multichannel efforts.

Louis Vuitton’s print ads continue to be a source of admiration. Always recognizable for their white-border, LV ads always evoke the travel and the “elegance à la Française”.

DEI 440x285 F-JAIS2 GB:a

credit to Dane Deasy credit to Dane Deasy

Moreover, Louis Vuitton uses celebrity endorsement in most of its campaigns. But they choose a wide range of celebrities, not just only famous actress like others brands do. Mohamed Ali, Zinedine Zidane, and even Keith Richards and Buzz Aldrin have been taking part into Louis Vuitton advertising. The strategy here is to touch a wider range of people. The scenery always suggest a stop-off point but let the viewer’s imagination still free.

The impressive Louis Vuitton’s marketing strategy has been reflected in significant growth. For six consecutive years, Louis Vuitton was named the world’s most valuable luxury brand. Year 2013 valuation of the brand was 28.4 billion USD with a sales of 9.4 billion USD.

The sky is the limit for Louis Vuitton.

Kenzo, a Fashion culture from elsewhere

The pyjama suit, the jumper with kimonos sleeves or even jeans with flowers pattern, all those creations belong to one famous maison haute couture, that you might have recognized, Kenzo. Like its creator Kenzo is unique in the luxury fashion industry. The brand have preserved since 1970, the soul of his founder.  Kenzo style, with its oriental sources, is recognizable among hundred of others, catching the eye but also the curiosity of the fashion addict. In order to stick to its identity Kenzo must produce advertising campaign that draw the same feelings.

In this article I would like to discuss about the two last campaigns that particularly caught my attention.  Indeed, for its communication the brand chose the art Magazine Toilet Paper (yes it is the real name) to produce a surreal psychedelic campaign for fall/winter 2014 and also spring/summer 2015. Models popping up out of holes in the floor or breaking into the house using the dog door.  Or even people walking on a giant chess. That is the psychedelic scenes that we can see on those two campaigns.

fall/winter 2014

fall/winter 2014

spring/summer 2015

spring/summer 2015

To sum up, they are both fun, esthetic and off the wall. But style we can see some differences between the two. First, by the color tone used in each video. The first one is flashier whereas the second use primarily white, black and blue color. The choice of the music is also relevant from the different atmosphere. In the first video the music tend to highlight the tension and anxiety that emerge from the situation. In the second video, the music sounds more electronic (even robotic) that fit completely into the futurist atmosphere.

The result is very powerful and above all it transmits very well the Kenzo style.  The two campaigns are breaking away from traditional luxury advertising. It doesn’t use the classical and inspirational codes. There is no sense, it is deliberately playing with the absurd, but it is the kenzo signature that is why it works.  Just a funny quote from Paul Farkas, co founder of Accessory 2 to sum up the idea of the collaboration between Kenzo and Toilet Paper “Toilet Paper Mag loves to mashup and Kenzo loves to collab so a collab between the two sets a limitless foundation for unique, adventurous campaigns bending and blending context,” In my opinion, Dior or Chanel would never make such a choice. First of all because it doesn’t correspond to their identity and the values they promote. Secondly, because the message won’t be understood by the consumers. There will be a complete discrepancy between what they are and what they show. Kenzo through its unique creations affirms its own vision of fashion. This vision makes credible those off the wall campaigns that are far from the classical luxury advertising.

Chanel and Lily Allen : a modern Cinderella ?

We all know the famous interpret of the song F*** You, the pop star Lily Allen. The English singer who is never at a loss for words is more known for her escapades involving drug and alcohol than her grace and her style.

credit to Charles Newbury - Festival hall Melbourne

credit to Charles Newbury 

But in 2009, Chanel surprisingly chose her to be the new face of the handbag’s campaign “coco cocoon”. This choice was pushed by the Chanel designer Karl Lagarfeld who succumbed to the charm of the singer.

In my last article I talked about the importance of celebrity endorsement in luxury industry. I especially underlined the need of coherence between the choice of the celebrity and the brand’s values. In this case, we can question Karl Lagarfeld’s decision regarding Lily Allen as Chanel’s spokesmodel. Indeed, the Lily Allen’s image, sometimes associated with trash celebrity, doesn’t seem in agreement with Chanel values that defend class, elegance and glamour. The risk here is that customers don’t understand this choice and might turn away from the brand. So why a prestigious brand like Chanel made such a selection?

First, there is clearly an aspirational purpose behind it, revealing the brand’s strategy. Chanel makes you beautiful and turns you into a princess (or almost). Like Cinderella’s Godmother, Karl Lagarfeld took Lily Allen and her dubious style and turned her into a beautiful and classy model.

Second reason of such a decision is Lagarfeld innovative vision. Indeed the creative director of Chanel is famous for his irreverent taste. He very often has been the first to anoint the next It band, actor or model. So it is not so surprising that he chose Lily Allen to be the face of Coco Cocoon’s new line.  Moreover, Lily Allen is reputed to be a fashion addict, especially when it concerns Chanel’s bag (she declared to have more than 30), meaning that it is in a sense coherent with her. Finally, Lagarfeld is conscious of her celebrity toward a large public. Maybe his goal was also to attract new customer that are not use to luxury.

And it is true when you look at the Chanel’s ads, Lily Allen looks absolutely stunning. With her handbag, her classical black skirt and her tiara, Lily Allen’s image in the ad totally blows the one we know from the artist we firstly discover with her song “Smile”. Lily’s princess punk vibe shines through with the help of funky accessories and styling. The bags are definitely puffy, different from Chanel’s per usual sleek options, but they are different and fun, just like Lily!

Coco cocoon advertising campaign. credit to Courtner Webster

Coco cocoon advertising campaign. credit to Courtner Webster

Unfortunately, the fairytale didn’t last too long. Indeed, in 2010, Karl Lagardfeld organized a party during Cannes’Festival, but Lily Allen didn’t get any invitation. The message was clear: you do not belong anymore to Chanel’s Family. The reason of this turnaround? Magazines reported that during a previous event ( organized by Lagarfeld too), Lily turned out to finish unreasonably drunk. Too much of a party girl that Chanel can stand.

Consequences? The company decide not to renew Lily Allen’s contract. Instead it replaced her by the smoother Vanessa Paradis.

The moral of the story : Like Cinderella’s dress that turns back to rags at midnight, Lily Allen enjoyed the ball but for an extra glass of champagne Godfather Lagarfeld decided to break the spell.

Luxury and celebrity endorsement

In 2014, the beautiful Keira Knightley stars again as Coco Chanel in the new channel advert. The actress has been spokesmodel for Chanel since 2007. She comes back in a breathtaking mini film where she manages to seduce a good looking man and then vanish mysteriously. No doubt that Channel doesn’t regret the choice of Keira Knightley to incarnate the modern Coco Channel.

ad in the Amsterdam mall-photo from Drew Pärker

ad in the Amsterdam mall-photo from Drew Pärker

Associate its brand with a celebrity has become a common practice in luxury industry. For many years, luxury brands have understood the importance of associating their brand with celebrities. It became with the time a part of the marketing strategy. Nowadays, especially in luxury fashion industry, celebrities and public figures can be seen in every campaign. But celebrity endorsement doesn’t belong exclusively to luxury space anymore. Indeed, many other mass categories brands use it to promote their product. Like Sharon Stone in the last campaign of glasses brand, Alain Afflelou, for example. But let’s focus on the luxury brands. Why it became essential for them to use celebrity endorsement in their campaign? And Is it still effective today?

Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt, Madonna, Roger Federer, etc.. you all know them. From film and television stars, to musicians, sports personalities, royals, politicians, and even socialites who have no defined careers apart from looking beautiful. They all share the common point of being famous around the world and exerting influence in different facets of the society. Manufacturers of perfumes and clothing are the one that use celebrity endorsement the most. One of the reasons is because there is a very aspirational purpose in their campaign. Chanel, Dior, Luis Vuitton, and many others don’t hesitate to spend millions of dollars to get the last fashionable starlet in their campaign assuming that the effectiveness exceeds the costs. What are the reasons of using public figure endorsement and not just simple model?

1) First of all it is a good way to create or revitalize the brand awareness

2) It helps to position and re-position existing brands

3) It brings credibility to the brand

4) Celebrity endorsement strategy is effective because it hides the “selling” purpose by making the customer thinks that the product is part of the celebrity’s lives. Consequently, the customer’s attitude is positively affected.

And as a consequence it has big impact on the company’s revenues. For example in 2005, after Chanel n°5 campaign with Nicole Kidman, the brand saw its sales increased of 17%.

But however, there are still some conditions to get a real effectiveness. Indeed, it is crucial that the personality of the celebrity match with the brand values. The celebrity has to carry those values in the advertising but also outside, in their daily life. For example I don’t think it would be a relevant choice for Yves Saint Laurent to get Cristiano Ronaldo as its spokesmodel. In others words, there must be a congruence between the celebrity and the brand universe in order to create an advertising effectiveness.

But celebrity endorsement is not always a 100% guaranted strategy. It is not always a Win-Win situation. The brand becomes dependant of the celebrity and its behavior and so it becomes risky when the celebrity make any transgression or even scandals. In this case, the celebrity’s image is damaged and so it is the image of the brand also. An example of this misdemeanor, would probably between Burberry, Chanel, H&M and Kate Mos, when some newspapers published pictures of this one snorting cocaine, the brands immediately broke their contract with her but still had an impact for the brands’ image.

Kate Moss by Pen 1 -From Matt Brown

Kate Moss by Pen 1 -From Matt Brown

Why all reasonable women cannot resist Gaspard Ulliel?

What?! You haven’t noticed the new Bleu de Chanel’s campaign??! You must have decided to go for a mediation trip in Nepal. If not, you don’t have any excuse to miss this new masterpiece. For the enjoyment of all women, Gaspard Ulliel is back, sexier than ever, with his perfect hair cut and his sharp look that nobody can resist.  Just a little reminder for those who were already in their meditation trip: the story starts in 2010, with Bleu de Chanel first campaign starring our beloved Gaspard. In this film he interprets the main character. We watch him chasing woman but also being rejected (yes it is fiction, in reality it cannot happen!). We had to wait 4 LONG years to discover the next episode. But when you see the result, there is no way you be disappointed. This time again, Gaspard looks tormented with his fame. He tries to run away from all his crazy groupies, to finally arrive at sunrise in a mysterious landscape, synonym of peace and new horizon for him.

Gaspard Ulliel attends 'Les Lumieres 2015' Arrivals At Espace Pierre Cardin on February 2, 2015 in Paris, France.

Gaspard Ulliel attends ‘Les Lumieres 2015’ Arrivals At Espace Pierre Cardin on February 2, 2015 in Paris, France.

Rather than “be unexpected” the slogan of the previous film, gaspard Ulliel this time murmurs us “you are forever becoming who you are”. We notice an evolution between those two slogans and also understand a sort of release of Ulliel from fame confinements. Impose yourself Gaspard!

I think we all agree when I say that we can’t wait until next campaign.

Crédits : Foc Kan / contributorad

It ‘s raining men : the new golden segment for luxury brands

Luxury industry has been focusing for a long time on their primary customer: women. Indeed, until the late 1990s, the luxury market was mainly targeting women, that represented 65% of their market at that time. Nowadays men are considered as a big potential customer’s segment for luxury brands, that is why they throw themselves into the marketing battle in order to conquer them. The luxury men’s market intents to outperform women’s one.

This change is due to an evolution of the society that occurred since the 1990s. A shift in gender roles and the place of men and women in the society is the most important evolution. Men lifestyle has changed, a lot. Nowadays they intent to adopt a more liberated from traditional confinements. An example of this trend is the boom in health and cosmetic products for men. They are also very interested in fashion and are more and more exigent with the brands. One important feature is that Men are looking for distinctive fashions and luxury goods that express more their new personalities.

New entrants have seen this new segment like an opportunity to compete with big houses like Chanel. But established luxury brands have quickly understood the challenge of this new market and have reacted. For example in 2010 Channel entered the men luxury watch market, or Hermes that opened the same year its first men’s only store in New York. The change in men consumer behavior leads logically to a change of their image in the advertising. The Myth of hegemonic masculinity that has been operated before seem to change currently with the cultural and societal beliefs and values. Luxury brands have changed their codes in advertising to represent the ideal male consumer as a “new man” with more feminine characteristics and/or behavior than before. Of course, the traditional male characteristics did not completely disappear but it started to be mixed with a new one, more feminine. In order to incarnate this “new man”, luxury brands uses models that are not totally smooth and have a strong personality. An example with Olivier Martinez for Dior or Gaspard Uliel for Chanel, that suggests at the end of the spot “become who you are”. Brands like Chanel also represent men in their advertising with a dandy style, showing their feminine characteristics.

To conclude, luxury brands are trying to adapt their advertising in order to convey an image that is more adequate of the man of today. Men are becoming impressive customers. The challenge for luxury brands is to constantly understand and anticipate the social evolution of their customers.

Power of the heritage in luxury brands: L’Odyssée of Cartier

Last time, I talked about the transgression of luxury brands in their advertising codes using porno chic. But in this article I will return to a more classical and efficient component used in luxury industry; their heritage. Indeed, a brand, especially luxury one, doesn’t come up like this. Sometimes it appears with its creator, like for example Coco Chanel. In this case, the brand builds its identity toward this person. But when there is no creator in the game, the brand has to find another way to create a strong identity. So, most of the time the brand chooses to develop itself upon values in order to create a very precise universe that customers can identify among the others.

In this sense, the French jeweler, Cartier, understood well the importance to emphasize the heritage and history of the brand for the customer. Cartier’s strategy in every advertising is to transcribe their universe. The 2012 campaign is the best example of this strategy. They decided to celebrate the 165th anniversary of the brand, with an epic short film called “l’Odyssée” that is actually an allegory of Cartier’s history. Cartier wanted many visual effects in order to get powerful images and also make something that has never been done before by any other brand. For that, they didn’t hesitate to pay 5,3 million to get this masterpiece. And I have to say the result is quite stunning.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaBNjTtCxd4

During three and a half minute, the viewer follows the iconic symbol of the brand, the panther. The animal goes from one universe to another, each one referring to a key moment of Cartier’s history. From St Petersburg, to the great Wall China and many others exotic locations to finally end in Paris, place Vendome, Cartier’s birthplace.

This publicity provoked a rise in the awareness of the brand. And solidify the values upon which Cartier built itself. It is reassuring for the client in the sense that if they know about the brand history and heritage, it is valuable for them. And so when they buy a Cartier necklace they don’t only buy a jewel but they also buy the whole history of it

This publicity was shown in only 12 countries. Among them: China, United States, Korea and Switzerland. This strategy follows logic of “selectivity” that adopted Cartier. They show us an incredible and inspirational universe. But not everyone can be part of it.