Right Brain, Left Brain Blog

8 posts categorized "Luxury marketing"

07 June 2012

An explosion of video content equals more rubbish

Prada therapy
This is going to be a bit of a rant, so in the immortal words of the IT Crowd, you better put seatbelts on your ears (or should that be your eyes? Never mind). In all the whirlwind excitement about the explosion of video content, a worrying truth has emerged. At the risk of sounding like a bit of a content snob, 'more' does not necessarily translate into 'better', and just because everyone talks about brands as the new content producers, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're all going to be any good at it.

The statistics for video consumption are dizzying. According to ComScore, by the end of 2011 the human race was watching 2 billion pieces of video a month. YouTube clocked up more than 1 trillion views across the whole of last year -which should be cause for celebration, except for the fact that a significant proportion of those 1 trillion views will be for total dross.

I'm not talking about the endless supply of cat videos, amateur pop promos, box opening videos, make-up tutorials, advert parodies or illegal film posts here. But aside from the low-quality pap produced by dillusional or fame-hungry members of the great filming public, brands also have to share some of the responsibility for clogging up the servers of the World with recurring examples of rubbish film making. 'More' often means 'more rubbish' and anyone with a camera phone thinks it's okay to call themselves a content producer, when they're not.

Old spiceIsaiah Mustafa, the Old Spice man who inspired a generation of brand marketers

A man with a camera phone is just a man, and there's no such thing as a 'citizen cameraman'. Just because you have the ability to upload clips that you've tarted up on Windows Movie Maker for the rest of the world to see, doesn't turn you into Ridley Scott. By the same token, just because you're a brand marketer with a clever idea for a video, it doesn't mean you're going to reproduce the success of the Old Spice guy. Isaiah Mustafa, the man your man could smell like, has a lot to answer for.

So what am I complaining about? Poorly conceived work like this rubbish from Skoda, featuring none the World's most famous pop star that nobody remembers, Anastacia.


The joke connections that could be made between a Skoda and Anastacia are too obvious to be made here, but there partnership feels forced for the sake of the gag. How far did Skoda have to get down their list before they got to Anastacia? (Gap, for instance, was always better at this style of celeb-cameo TV ad).

Alternatively, take this example from Samsung. Now the motion controlled smart TV is an astonishing piece of kit – and it doesn't need to be introduced to the world by a modern day Carry On film, complete with comic sound effects and over-the-top soundtrack. Things take further nosedive when the clip features none other than the Old Spice man himself, complete with trademark white towel.


Advertising just got self-referential, but was it really necessary to rely on another brand's jokes?

But it isn't all bad. Fortunately, a video pops up every now and again that restores your faith in the video medium. Luxury brands have always been pretty good with video – although its arguable that this is only because they have the money to throw at big name directors and top drawer talent. This recent work from Prada is a typical example. It's polished, professional and to all intents and purposes, a short feature film.


But the truth is that the real innovation in brand video production takes place in the smaller brand space, where risk is more acceptable and the creative journey is shorter and more direct. ONLY, is a fashion brand in Denmark which managed to unite the idea of video, online shopping and user experience into an astonishing piece of work.

My gripe about sub-standard video content still stands, which is why it's important to jump and shout about the good bits. As an industry, advertising owes it to itself to raise its video game. It doesn't take much, just more creativity, more innovation and a greater propensity to be adventurous. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. 

12 December 2011

Luxury marketing and social media

by Wesley Lynch.


Admit it, as a niche or luxury brand you probably scoff at social media. What, you wonder, does your brand have to do with some pimply kid on a skateboard messaging his friends?

But you’d be wrong on two counts. A KISSMetrics report reveals that social media users are both wealthier and older than you think. Among the social platforms, Twitter has the most high-income earners (27% earn over $75 000 p.a.). An impressive 37% of Facebook users are over 45.

And they’re not monitoring their kids either. They’re ditching their satellite news channel for a more well-rounded perspective (Twitter), and they’re polling their friends, who know their likes and dislikes, for advice on what to get a loved one for Christmas (Facebook).

It’s obvious, then, that social is an underestimated and underrepresented medium in the niche brand marketing mix – a fact borne out by their brands conspicuous absence from social platforms.

Besides the surprising facts quoted above, here are a few things you probably didn’t know about social, things that ought to ease your fears and suspicions about the medium.

New authorities 

Forget Google and brand websites – social media is the new authority on topics across the board. If someone is looking for a really great wine or to form an opinion on a topical affair, chances are they’ll poll their friends or  poke around the ‘walled garden’ of Facebook rather than wade through search engine results or undertake an arduous trawling of websites.

So if you’re not on social media, you’re missing out on some highly qualified audiences doing some very targeted comparative shopping and acting on very powerful recommendations.

Millionaire aspirations

Today, industries like IT produce younger millionaires who bring a new casual luxury segment to the market, a segment perhaps not fully recognised yet by the high-end brands. Gangsta rappers with their penchant for ostentatious wealth, luxury cars, bling and designer wear, bring a different style again to the consumption of luxury brands.

With this democratisation of luxury brands, aspiration is keener than ever. Ordinary companies now toast their successes with Dom Perignon; kids and other low-income earners simply must have the latest iPhone.

Brand exclusivity and social

Given these developments, going social is not a move away from exclusivity. It is simply an extension of the brand community.

Today, brand communities form around groupings that actually consume the brand – not abstract metrics such as wealth. (Besides, with the above examples of young IT professionals and upwardly mobile rappers, the correlation between disposable income and age is being steadily eroded).

Niche brands should take social media channels seriously as a portfolio of tools, technologies and platforms facilitating the discovery and sharing of their content by an increasingly discerning social community.

Cartier-love-myspaceCartier experimented with MySpace back in 2008

It can be done

Where to from here? While it is not a widespread phenomenon yet, niche brands are increasingly flocking to the social Web. From Cartier’s MySpace account to Tiffany’s Facebook page and the Jimmy Choo treasure hunt on Foursquare, brands are figuring out how to do it.

To follow in their footsteps, other niche brands investigating a social strategy should engage the services of a technology and creative team that has been there and done that. Decide what you want from a social campaign or presence, find the local and global examples that inspire you, and track down the team that can deliver.

Wesley Lynch is CEO of Realm Digital.


24 November 2011

Qantas competition twisted by Twitter


The airline industry and Twitter were never going to get along. As a method of getting about, air travel is dependent on so many variables that delays, cancellations and missed flights are going to be inevitable. Frequent flyers are used to all manner of disruptions called by fog, mechanical failure, ice on the runway and refuelling delays – and this assuming that the air traffic control staff aren’t on strike in one of the countries you have to fly over in order to reach your destination.

Continue reading "Qantas competition twisted by Twitter" »

10 October 2011

Cream Daily: Hermès launches luxury saris in India

Luxury goods maker Hermès has launched a French-made limited edition range of Indian saris in a bid to connect with the Indian market.

Continue reading "Cream Daily: Hermès launches luxury saris in India" »

30 September 2011

Asia’s emerging markets welcome homegrown luxury

In our hunt for the Next 100 Global Challenger Brands that will feature in the next issue of M&M, we’ve come across an emerging paradigm in the luxury sector in Asia, aiming to recreate the authentic value of Eastern traditions and culture and replace the notions of luxury imposed by the West.

One example of this trend is the Hermès-backed Chinese luxury brand Shang Xia (meaning ‘topsy-turvy’ in Mandarin) that opened its first store in September last year in the upscale shopping area in Shanghai on Huaihai Road and has since managed to cause a great buzz without any advertising, PR or celebrity endorsements. 

Although Hermès had 20 stores in China already, Shang Xia was launched as a unique homegrown luxury brand led by a designer from Shanghai, Jiang Qiong Er, and is oriented towards traditional Chinese craftsmanship and materials in creating contemporary jewellery, apparel, housewares and furniture which is 100% manufactured in China. The move was initially received with scepticism, since Chinese consumers had developed a preference for foreign brands due to the perception that they are of better quality. Yet, Shang Xia successfully challenged this misconception and is now planning on opening another store in Beijing, followed by Paris as first steps towards going global.


Craftwomen display their skill on cashmere during the store opening of Shang Xia in Shanghai on 16 September 2010

According to Jiang Qiong Er, the Chinese homegrown luxury brands that had been present a century ago withdrew in the early 90s as the Western ones took over. However, gradually attitudes started changing as consumers stopped shunning all things Chinese aside, recognising a need to reconnect with their own cultural backgrounds and becoming more curious about their heritage.  

I think more people in China realize the importance of looking back to our cultural roots, going back and trying to re-evaluate the value of Chinese culture,” Jiang says in an interview for Jing Daily.

“More people here are starting to realize that, in our lives today, we’re dominated by Western lifestyles. But if you look back at the history of the world, you’ve got both Western and Eastern cultures. At one time, Eastern culture was on the peak, but that flipped. So maybe it’s time to flip it around again in some way.”


Interior of the Shanghai flagship

One of the strategies that sets Shang Xia apart from other luxury brands is prioritising time over profit with goals set in a 100 to 200-year timeline; since the essence of luxury is, in fact, time. Additionally, the marketing philosophy behind the brand is based on word of mouth, in a way to make consumers feel that they are discovering something themselves, or relying on a trusted source. Yet, this doesn’t imply a lack of proactive marketing, in fact, Shang Xia have come up with some highly insightful and creative solutions. For instance, they recently sourced designs of a unique cultural object on the theme of “Heritage and Emotion,” organised a two-week exhibition to showcase the winning object: a box called “Pass it On,” designed to keep family pictures and objects. At the exhibition, the brand set up a post office where visitors could send Shang-Xia designed postcards across the glove, with Shang Xia paid postage.

 In India, established designers such as Ritu Kumar and Sabayasachi Mukjerjee, who have been drawing inspiration from India’s ancient craft and fabrics, equally recognise the revival of homegrown luxury. 

Sabayasachi Mukjerjee's bridalwear collection

“A lot of Indian women like wearing clothing which defines them as Indian. I might be doing Western clothing, I might be doing Indian clothing, but there is always a common denominator, and that is India.  If you look at the approach, if you look at the artistry, if you look at the textiles, there’s always a strong indigenous feel,” Sabayasachi claims. His designs focus on using local, handwoven fabrics like khadi, handloom silk as well as regional arts like block printing, bandhani and gota.

Likewise, Ritu Kumar’s designs draw heavily on the textile and embroidery heritage of India. Her work under the brand ‘Ri’ will be featured in an upcoming Hindi film, Love Breakups Zindagi, due to be released in early October this year.

Shraddha Kapoor photoshoot for Anita Dongre's Global Desi collection

However, blending the best of the East and the West through modernisation of Indian traditional styles is beginning to gain recognition beyond the luxury sector in India with Anita Dongre’s high street fashion brand Global Desi that capitalises on “global style, Indian trends.”

Perhaps the flip to the East anticipated by Jiang Qiong Er isn’t that far from gaining international traction.


16 August 2011

A question of luxury

By Toby Southgate

Defining ‘luxury’ from a brand and communications perspective has always been challenging. Luxury can mean different things to different consumers, in different markets, and at different points in time. Its very nature links luxury most closely to categories like fashion, real estate and electronics, all of which are dynamic and susceptible to rapid change.

Continue reading "A question of luxury" »

10 August 2011

A step closer to reality

Society magazine Tatler recently launched a special edition, which featured a collaboration with augmented reality developer Holition, allowing readers to “try on” millions of pounds worth of jewellery.

Continue reading "A step closer to reality" »

04 April 2011

Social Media Changing the Face of Luxury Brands?

Oscar de la Renta

When it comes to luxury brands, exclusivity is crucial to their survival as they thrive on their elite image. So how can these brands cope in today’s social media age where the power is shifting from the brand almighty to the consumer?

After all, marketers and so-called social media buffs all champion this new era as the time when consumers need to be listened to and appreciated. Many brands have even taken this a step further by giving up partial control, taking up the curious activity dubbed ‘co-creation,’ where consumers actually take part in the creation of the product.  

How can luxury and more specifically designer brands who rely so heavily on their unattainability survive in this brave new world? Few have succeeded. In fact, Gucci and Burberry are the only ones who come to mind. Burberry’s Art of the Trench website, where fans shared pictures and anecdotes via Facebook about the emblematic Burberry trench coats, was a triumph.

Thus, while every other brand is desperately trying to figure out how to jump on the social media bandwagon, luxury brands are increasingly pressured to follow suit. Gucci has succeeded in getting four million fans to “like” their page on Facebook. Does every single one of those fans own a Gucci product? Most definitely not, but social media is allowing the designer brands to communicate with their audience in whole new ways. These new digital platforms allow high-luxury brands to share pictures, videos, and all sorts of information about upcoming collections and events. While not everyone will be able to afford that five thousand pound dress, people can dream about it, talk about it, and who knows, maybe someday own it.

Oscar de la Renta is taking things to a bold new step, as it launches its first fragrance in ten years on Facebook. Indeed, in order to generate buzz over the new scent, these next few weeks will be dedicated to giving out samples of the perfume, Esprit d’Oscar, on a special section of the social media platform. Michele de Bourbon, Oscar de la Renta’s head of marketing for fragrance claims that through social media and its more affordable fragrance line, consumers have been able to “experience the world of Oscar.”

Although this is not the first fragrance to be launched via Facebook—Marc Jacobs launched a perfume through a Facebook game last year, it will be interesting to see how Oscar de la Renta fares with this digital launch. I certainly think it’s a brave move, but if the brand wants to make waves, it can’t do this halfway. Just giving out samples on Facebook seems a bit shy to me. But I’ll be watching this closely as this could mark a new era for the luxury industry and social media marketing.


See also "Watch Building Tutorial," where Jaeger Le Coultre creates an app that teaches people about the craft of luxury watch making and JCDecaux installs scented airport posters to deliver perfume sampling.

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  • Right Brain, Left Brain sums up the dichotomy of a media business that’s constantly battling with the challenge of delivering a profit and discovering new ways to communicate to consumers. The Cream editorial team combined with a dream team of industry pioneers from around the world share their expert opinions.

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