Strategy and creative shouldn’t be opposing forces, said the marketing team from Kate Spade at SXSW this week, highlighting how they balance both for every initiative they put out.
Mary Beech, executive VP and CMO, Kristen Naiman, SVP of brand creative, and Krista Neuhaus, senior director of digital brand marketing, spoke about how every digital initiative the brand embarks on involves understanding the symbiotic relationship between strategy, the story they want to tell, and the channel they want to tell it on.
The team finds balance between being strategic about what platform to invest their time and budget on, and what they should jump in early and learn along the way. They gave numerous examples of the way in which they have done this.
When Facebook Live came out, for instance, they developed a fully-fledged campaign shot professionally and hosted by a celebrity influencer, which quickly became resource-intensive and logistically tough, and made the brand realise that bigger is not always better. Eventually, the content was scaled back to feature in-the-moment footage often shot by the brand’s team.
Kate Spade had only recently decided Snapchat wasn’t the best platform for the brand when Instagram Stories came out, and rather than applying the same behind-the-scenes content plan to the feature, it began by engaging with fans via a series of quotes and questions to the audience – thus allowing them to plan content ahead and understand what stuck.
A new fragrance launch was the perfect opportunity for the brand to engage and potentially acquire a younger audience, the team said. YouTube was an easy choice for the campaign as the beauty category performs particularly well among the Gen Z audience in that space. Rather than pushing pre-roll ads based on basic demographics such as gender and age, Kate Spade uncovered queries that were high volume for their target demographic on YouTube – such as what love is, and how to become successful – and put paid media against it.
The result was a series of discovery-based ads featuring notable women aged 51, 31 and 21 (such as actress Laura Dern, as seen above) talking about a selection of topics in a very personal and honest tone of voice. In doing so, the brand targeted a woman who was looking for guidance or often solace, and aimed to provide a more meaningful brand interaction, even if short.
Working with influencers and quirky brand ambassadors is at the heart of Kate Spade’s engagement strategy otherwise, as with its #MissAdventure series. Its influencer strategy is split two-fold, said CMO Beech: long-time fans who speak to a very engaged audience and whose style and aesthetic is ‘on-brand’; and influencers who at first might seem like an odd choice for the brand, but help them acquire a new customer base. Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine is an example of the latter.
Kate Spade is a brand deeply rooted in America, so it has to fundamentally streamline its strategy for its global audience, Beech said. She highlighted the need to understand what is fundamentally only relevant in their home country, and what is universal. As a result, communications are ‘cleaner’ and simplified internationally, focused on non-verbal elements that are easier to digest in any territory or language. Its comedy series was deemed too regional, for instance, while elements such as color, the idea of joy, and even animals and a lot of product visuals are brought to the forefront worldwide.
The brand’s main intention, the team concluded, is to take an intent-rich customer and serve them a more narrative-driven and dynamic service over time.
Kenzo invited three young filmmakers to interpret its AW17 collection tied to the theme of how we inhabit earth today.
The resulting series of short, conceptual films living under the header of “Kenzo Season Zero”, explore everything from the basics of orange juice to the feel of an alternative universe. The trio, which includes Mati Diop, Baptist Penetticobra and Eduardo Williams, were selected for their singular and multicultural visions of our world.
“These filmmakers are part of a generation who is more and more concerned about the frailty of a planet which contours erode to the contact of intensive activities and ecological disasters. They were not chosen randomly — mixed, expatriated, nomads, their intimate vision of the world is expressed through juxtapositions of fictional and documentary places, of hybrid, incompatible or symbiotic bodies,” the write-up reads.
Diop takes the viewer to the streets of Paris at night in “Olympus”, where a young model on a bike (the filmmaker’s brother) and a group of local young people are seen hanging out.
The collection features heavily, but secondary to the almost non-narrative of the piece. “In my work, the clothes are thought of extensively but remain invisible. They participate in the embodiment of the characters, it’s an extension of the writing to me. I often get inspiration from the actors’ clothes first, to which I add other pieces. For Olympus, I proceeded the same way, in collaboration with Georgia Pendlebury: mixing Kenzo’s pieces with the youth’s clothes. Yet, visible or not, the collection was never my main focus,” Diop explains.
“Tzzd” by Williams, meanwhile, embarks on a journey over three countries, two continents and a multitude of different visions or alternative dimensions. In one breath it’s a mundane setting of an elf on the metro in Buenos Aires, in the next it’s a robot constructor before a wrap on a group of “Voguing” dancers.
“I’m interested in the relation between the sensation of reality and fantasy, the normal and the unfamiliar. I think that everyday places and situations can be shown in a way by which this impression of reality can be questioned. The characters have their own particularities, each one is special in a different way,” Williams explained.
Lastly, Penetticobra focuses in on poems about orange juice, with detail-rich descriptions in two separate monologues for “Untitled (Juice)”.
“I wanted to talk about something trivial — like a cup of orange juice you can get at McDonald’s — and pull the thread as far as I could until it becomes almost abstract. It seemed to line up with the theme ‘Inhabit The Earth’, which touches on something universal. Cheap orange juice is pretty much the same everywhere. I liked the idea of going from something small to talking about something larger, and at the same time verging on something more and more obscure, theoretical, until it becomes almost stupid and random,” Penetticobra commented.
See all of the films on streaming platform lecinemaclub.com from Friday, November 3, to Thursday, November 9.
Kenzo has tapped Orange is the New Black actress Natasha Lyonne to direct its new campaign film, “Cabiria, Charity, Chastity”.
In her directorial debut, Lyonne oversees a diverse cast of known and indie names including Saturday Night Live alum Maya Rudolph, who takes the central role of Chastity.
The 12-minute spot, which launched during New York Fashion Week, follows the tale of Chastity as she embarks upon a surreal journey to confront her past in the burlesque world, all the while speaking in a subtitled so-called “gibberish”.
As Lyonne said to The Impression: “What is a short film? Who’s really watching these things? We’re making them because they look really great or they’re fun as an exercise. But what if she just speaks in gibberish the whole time and it’ll be a made up film and a made up language? That freed up the idea of being too important.”
Explained Kenzo’s Carol Lim: “We don’t like to call them fashion films, because I think there’s a free way that people will interpret the story and take it and the clothes are secondary in many ways because it needs to fit with the characters.”
Also joining the cast is SNL colleague Fred Armisen, child star Macaulay Culkin, as well as actors Greta Lee, James Ransone and Leslie Odom Jr, among others.
The film, which is available to watch on Kenzo.com, is accompanied by campaign images by Danish photographer Casper Sejersen that act as film teasers and posters. Meanwhile Kenzo’s designs have been adapted for the film by Arianne Phillips, Madonna’s stylist and costume designer of choice.
This marks the French brand’s fifth original short film. In the past, they have collaborated with different writers/directors including Kahlil Joseph of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” fame, musician and comedian Carrie Brownstein and indie film director Sean Baker.
Finnish design house Marimekko is running a hackathon inviting 50 young creators to challenge the conventions of the textile and clothing industry.
Focused on fusing design with technology, the Marimekko Designathon will look to virtual and augmented realities specifically to help.
It will run in collaboration with European tech event Slush and hackathon company Junction, and be held as part of the Helsinki Design Week from September 15-17, 2017, at the brand’s headquarters.
Six jury members, including Etsy.com chairman and Flickr co-founder, Caterina Fake, will select the top 3-5 ideas at the weekend, with those winners then given the opportunity to present their innovations to an audience of investors and start-ups at Slush 2017, on November 30 and December 1.
W magazine has turned to augmented reality for its latest issue, introducing an interactive virtual experience accessible from its physical pages.
Produced with creative technology and VFX studio, The Mill, the special collector’s issue for September 2017, starts with a “talking” cover, starring Katy Perry, who was shot and directed by Steven Klein. The singer delivers a video and audio message to readers, before inviting them to interact with different parts of her face to unlock new pieces of content.
Those films were developed by creating 3D scans of Perry on set, then matching Klein’s aesthetic through the resulting computer-generated renderings. The aim, according to the press release, was to design a seamless experience between the screen and the printed page.
“We perceive magazines as flat planes of expression. Photographic and print materials as static, firmly held in place by the laws of time and space. But now, through new technology, we have broken those laws and can render a picture as a living entity,” said Klein. “Like Alice looking through the looking glass, you are invited, through the use of an app, to step into the wonderland we have created with the technical assistance of The Mill.”
While this is by no means the first time AR has been used to bring a magazine to life (fellow Condé Nast title Tatler did it back in 2012, for instance), The Mill’s chief creative officer, Angus Kneale, believes this world is only just starting to get interesting.
Writing for W, he notes: “We are all currently riding the wave of immense mobile-computing ability and cloud connectivity. No one predicted the smartphone revolution; in 10 short years, the iPhone has transformed not just the way we communicate but how we live. Never before has such power—and information—been in the palm of your hand. That piece of glass in your pocket, crammed with the latest technology, has assumed a lofty place in our hierarchy of precious things.”
In the future, however, the level of interactivity we are able to have with digital storytelling is going to be better yet as we evolve into a mixed reality state – where virtual content is seen before us and in the room around us, rather than just through the confinements of our phone screens. “The blend of physical and digital realities promises to open up creative possibilities like never before: Imagine flipping through a fashion magazine and seeing the model come to life, stepping off the page and into your living room. You can see her clothes from all angles and the weight of the fabric as she moves. In the mixed-reality future, a magazine won’t be confined to the pages in your hand,” Kneale explains.
For now, downloading the magazine’s Beyond the Page app, available for iOS and Android, and also created by The Mill, will have to do. A further four features inside the magazine also have virtual content attached to them, including a collaboration with artist Alex Israel, accompanied by a futuristic piece of fiction, and a defiant take on fall fashion by photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott.
Adds W editor-in-chief, Stefano Tonchi: “This augmented reality experience embodies everything that W stands for – it’s bold, provocative, and offers a truly immersive escape, across print and digital platforms.”
Work in (or with) the fashion industry and heading to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year? Then we’ve done you a solid… Here’s a list of all the relevant sessions you should attend directly related to this industry, from Anna Wintour and Christopher Bailey in conversation, to exciting start-ups including MikMak and Wearable Experiments, not to mention keynotes from Kevin Plank of Under Armour, and John C Jay from Uniqlo.
We’ve also outlined a few bonus must-see talks from other verticals each day in order to get your creative juices flowing.
10.45am: Digital Darwinism: From the Makers of Monty the Penguin The creative team at MPC will be sharing the process behind the CG character work they do, exploring the science behind ‘Monty the Penguin’ for John Lewis.
5pm: Want Brand Fans? Create a Movement Sports performance clothing manufacturer SKINS is teaming up with BBD Perfect Storm for a conversation around building fans by challenging what harms the sports industry: corruption and cheating.
Sunday’s bonus content – 11am: Can Good User Experience Change the World? If you want any insight into what works in China, this is the session to attend – a deep dive into how one app – WeChat, owned by Tencent – has become an essential part of everyday life by focusing on the user experience.
Monday, June 20
3pm: Adobe Experience There are a series of speakers in this session, but the one to look out for is Billie Whitehouse, CEO of Wearable Experiments who will be demonstrating how physical, digital and emotional connections are shaping our future and culture (and yes, through clothing).
3.15pm: Creativity Under Pressure In the world of sporting performance, innovation and new technologies operate at speed, so to remain relevant without sacrificing authenticity, a brand has to continually innovate both products and creativity. Adidas global CMO Eric Liedtke is in the hotseat for this one, exploring co-creating the brand with its consumers.
4pm: Capturing Short Attention Spans: Custom Video Creative for Social Media If you want insights on video content, hearing from Adaptly and Refinery29 is a good place to start – this session will explore research around short attention spans through to the evolution of long-form media.
Monday’s bonus content – 1pm: Brian Chesky in Conversation with Joanna Coles Cosmo’s editor-in-chief sits down with Airbnb’s CEO to discuss the vision for his company and the current state of today’s sharing economy. This is a not to miss session as one of the world’s hottest start-ups. Other Monday highlights include Samsung’s virtual reality experience at 12pm, NASA in IPG Mediabrand’s session at 4pm and Mattel in 360i’s reimagining of play at 5pm.
Tuesday, June 21
10am: Anna Wintour in Conversation with Christopher Bailey For those in the fashion industry, this is one of the most-anticipated sessions of the week, Condé Nast’s infamous artistic director starting off talking about breaking through the noise with an authoritative editorial voice, followed by a conversation about creativity with Burberry’s chief creative and executive officer. Never have the obstacles to true innovation been so real, Wintour explains – but never have the opportunities been as great.
12.15pm: From Roman Emperors to Roman Orgies Strictly speaking this is a talk about the world of agency and client relationships, but the fact United Colors of Benetton and its history of creative campaigns is the subject makes it a worthwhile one to attend. The brand’s chief product and marketing officer, John Mollanger, will be in conversation with 180 Amsterdam.
12.30pm: Invisible UI – Transforming the Way We Think About Wearables Another wearable technology conversation takes place courtesy of Fjord (part of Accenture Interactive) during Lions Innovation, this time focusing on moving beyond wrists stacked with smart watches and fitness trackers to integrating tech seamlessly into what we already have and do.
1pm: The Gang of Four As part of Lions Innovation, L2 Inc’s Scott Galloway will explain the race to grab share in the retail and media industries between Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google – outlining who will thrive and who will die in the digital age. Knowing Galloway’s style of presenting, this will be a fast-paced delivery of data and insights, meaning it’s rich in information even if your head is left spinning.
Tuesday’s bonus content – 5pm: The Art of (Brand) Seduction There’s Will Smith at 11am and Usher at 2pm, but the session we don’t want to miss is rather from FCB in conversation with the chief scientific advisor for Match.com. In a complex life, building enduring connections is difficult – whether you’re shopping or looking for life partners. The hypothesis here is there’s a lot for brands to learn from the social science behind how the world of dating has changed.
Wednesday, June 22
1pm: Stephen Sackur Interviews Gwyneth Paltrow This year’s BBC Hardtalk session – a live on-stage recording for TV – is with award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow. For industry folk, it’s her role as the driving force behind health and wellness platform Goop that will likely be of most interest though.
5pm: Inside the Innovator’s Mindset Forbes has pulled together two entrepreneurs for its session at Lions Innovation this year – exploring what innovation and creativity means to them as game-changers. One of them is the co-founder and CPO of smart jewellery brand, Bellabeat; the other the founder and CEO of mobile video shopping network, MikMak. Both are well worth a listen.
Wednesday’s bonus content – 1pm: Wired’s Kevin Kelly on Where We Are All Heading Today’s must-see: It clashes with Gwyneth Paltrow, but if you’re happy to “consciously uncouple” yourself from her, head over to Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly’s conversation with PHD Worldwide instead. The session will explore 12 inevitable technological forces that will revolutionise the way we buy, work, learn and communicate. Failing that, you’ve also got Simon Pegg at 10am, Unilever’s Keith Weed at 11am and Iggy Pop at 3pm.
Thursday, June 23
12pm: Kevin Plank and David Droga: from Underdogs to Challengers Another big highlight of the week comes in the form of this conversation between the founder of Under Armour and the founder of Droga5 – a duo who have both built successful, innovative companies with authenticity at the core. Hot on the heels of his talk at SXSW, Plank particularly is one not to miss.
5pm: Spike Jonze & Shane Smith: Making Content We Care About How do we make content that young people genuinely care about? A key question for brands today, and who better to share key insights than Oscar winning director Spike Jonze and Vice founder Shane Smith. The discussion will be a broad one, but there should be lots of applicable snippets to learn in this session.
Thursday’s bonus content – 10am: Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase On the off-chance the pace of Cannes has started to catch up with you, there’s nothing better than Thursday morning’s New Directors’ Showcase for a spot of recovery. It’s a good excuse to sit in the dark for an hour and a quarter on the one hand, and on the other a flood of inspiration from some of the best new global creative talent. If that doesn’t take your fancy for the day, you’ve also got Oscar winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu at 2pm, plus a view on cracking China from Nils Andersson at 11am.
Friday, June 24
11am Beyond the Big Screen: The Future of Storytelling in Hollywood The relationship between entertainment and advertising is increasingly a fine one when storytelling comes in. At a time when multiple industries, fashion included, are looking to nail how they create engaging content, who better to learn from in this space than one of Hollywood’s most-awarded storytellers and visionaries, Harvey Weinstein. He’ll join Maurice Levy, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe.
12.30pm Future Five: The Next Five Fashion Influencers As part of Lions Entertainment, StyleHaul has curated a video presentation of five key influencers to know about in the fashion space. This content will be followed by a discussion about who they are and what you need to know.
2.15pm Isobar Presents ‘Icons Of Creativity’ with Uniqlo’s John C Jay It’s a rarity to have someone from Uniqlo talking, let alone its president of global creative, John C Jay. He believes the world today is experiencing a creative revolution, changing culture and business simultaneously, and will be discussing how his organisation works to maintain its creative edge and relevancy in this fast changing, brand commerce era.
Friday’s bonus content – 3.15pm: How to Do Terrible Work Wrapping up your Friday, how about a view on how not to win, how to be maliciously obedient and how to kill things? That’s the crux of the session between the global CMO of Mars and worldwide CCO of BBDO. Also don’t miss the Lion of St Mark interview, this year with Marcello Serpa at 4.15pm, and the Cannes Debate with Ban Ki-Moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, at 12pm.
Saturday, June 25
11am: The Future is Rebellion For those making it all the way through to Saturday, there’s a session hosted by DigitasLBi featuring two rebel heroes of the internet: Ari Seth Cohen, founder of Advanced Style, and Amani Al- Khatachtbeh, founder of MuslimGirl, that’s definitely worth listening to. “These rebels have one thing in common: they saw an accepted wisdom and faced it down with technology and content,” reads the write-up.
Saturday’s bonus content – 3.30pm: Out With a Bang And last but not least, be sure to head to the closing session of the 2016 Cannes Lions programme. This year’s guest is yet to be announced, but in the past, this slot has featured Heston Blumenthal, Bono and Johnny Ive. Stay tuned.
With a week full of back-to-back meetings, endless high profile speakers, multiple Oscar-worthy award ceremonies, and enough parties, networking opportunities and bottles of rosé to sink any one of the hundreds of glamorous super yachts you will likely not be able to get on, the eternal quest for sleep is a futile one…
But why exactly would we want to do that anyway and risk missing the very best of this century’s Mad Men in their finest hour? Yes, you can expect to see ad land behaving badly, but so too will you feel you’ve just learnt, absorbed and experienced the very best of it all within the space of a week, not to mention in the luscious surrounds of the French Riviera.
By the end you’ll never be happier to go home again, but you’ll probably also want to come back next year. So here are some tips and tricks to help you get through it…
Take your prep with a pinch of salt
You’ll want to make a plan before you arrive. Know what’s ahead of you, whether it be seminars to attend or meetings to book. Figure out your game plan, RSVP to what you need to (bear in mind there are a lot of additional bits of content going on all day everyday up and down La Croisette, and nearly every hotel beachfront has a sponsored party each night), but don’t expect to keep to everything.
There’s a lot to be said at this type of event for getting swept up with a crowd and going with the flow. It often ends up just as fortuitous. Word of warning however: be careful trying to sneak around the front of a party by way of the ocean – a guard dog or two might be there to greet you. I learnt that the hard way.
It’s ok to be the keen one
One of the enormous benefits of Cannes Lions is that the content each day is of such curated high quality. With big name speakers like Will Smith, Anna Wintour and Harvey Weinstein this year however, you’re not going to be alone in wanting to attend, so ensure you get there early. It’s even worth arriving for the session before to be safe.
Believe me, some of the experiences you gain you’ll speak about for life (anyone else remember Yoko Ono in 2010?), so these are the plans you should stick to, even if the sun is gloriously shining (let’s hope) and calling you back outside. Take some snacks and sit it out. Seriously, do take snacks, and a sweater to fend against the air conditioning.
Network on rosé
Once all is said and done each day, there are happy hours galore to choose from. If you’re not into rosé however, you might want to think again about heading to Cannes. Then again, if you have never tasted the rosé in Cannes, I guarantee you it tastes better than any other you’ve ever tried. I’ve heard people wax lyrical in the past about something to do with temperature, locality and the size of the bottle they order (it’s not unusual to see ones the size of small children paraded about with sparklers coming out the top), though I’m pretty sure it’s far more a product of the situation. Either way, you’ll quickly learn to accept it.
Similarly you’ll need to accept that the place to drink it is on the Carlton Terrace. It might be a mess pit of hundreds of people, making it feel like a slightly more formal version of a fresher’s party, but it’s the only place to head. The masses flock thereafter just around the corner to the Gutter Bar. Expect lots of advertising guys flaunting their Lions around like it gives them dating prowess, and yes more rosé on tap, but the best networking of my life was also here post 2am. Safe to say, it’s almost impossible to be the last one standing, though everyone gives it a good try.
Suck up the long hours
Given how busy every location is and how late each night gets, expect to be on your feet for a lot of it. Ladies, don’t even bother packing any heels. In fact, unless you’re fortunate enough to be staying in one of the hotels along La Croisette, don’t assume you’ll get to go home from the moment you leave your accommodation each morning (or afternoon). You’ll be a sweaty mess by nightfall, but no one will judge you for it.
On a plus note, all the bathrooms are beautiful in Cannes (apart from some of the beach ones) so it’s easy to freshen up if you throw some bits in your bag. Men, that goes for you too.
Don’t book early appointments
Seriously, just don’t. No one ever shows up other than perhaps on their first day, and cancellations over and over again get tiresome. Let’s face it, you’d rather be in bed too. Anything post 3pm is probably safest.
Bring the corporate card
That rosé I keep mentioning is in endless supply in Cannes, but needless to say so therefore are the credit card expenses. You will spend a lot of money while you’re there – it’s not unusual for a bottle of water to set you back 14 euros at the Gutter Bar and a slice of pizza in the region of 20 euros (honestly it’s often cheaper just to get the rose!)
If you’ve got a limit, eat and drink before you get there. Or better yet, buddy up with someone else with slightly looser purse strings. Rumour has it the ad industry is pretty good at that sort of thing.
If all else fails…
If you’ve gone hard, but you haven’t got as much content as you needed to and your boss back home is expecting a rundown of what was what, keep an eye both on here for daily coverage related to our industries, and on Twitter for live updates. I’m also going to be offering a series of seminars once back in London and a live event in early July (2016) that will cover highlights from the festival as well as insights into what they mean for the broader creative communications space over the year ahead. Stay tuned for more about that soon, or do shoot me a note if you’re interested ahead of time.
A version of this post first appeared on The Drum in 2015
While anything new in social media normally hits New York and London fashion weeks first, taking several seasons to finally get to Milan and Paris, Snapchat seems to be bucking that trend.
Yes the platform launched back in 2011, and yes it has been used at fashion weeks before too, but if there’s one thing the past month has proved, it’s how many more brands have willingly taken the plunge.
New York saw new accounts launch from Tommy Hilfiger (in partnership with supermodel Gigi Hadid) and Marc Jacobs, as well as two dedicated stories from Snapchat shared throughout the week. London meanwhile, also saw some exciting work, with a dedicated story created by Burberry for the channel, and further new accounts from the likes of Mulberry and Mr Porter.
Once we hit Milan, much of the same continued, with some great insights behind-the-scenes from the likes of Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci particularly. Over to Paris, and H&M used the platform to get its viewers to help choose which shoes from its show should be sold in store in September (inviting them to take a screenshot to vote). Balmain was also on there documenting its bevy of supermodels and their new hair colours, Stella McCartney playfully added lots of emojis, and Valentino handed the reins of its account over to blogger Bryan Boy.
Dior was a bit of a surprise with its launch – providing another behind-the-scenes tour with further emojis splashed on top (who would have thought it!) And for all those wanting more, Snapchat provided yet another dedicated catwalk story throughout as well.
Here are some of the Milan and Paris brand highlights:
Condé Nast has flexed it celebrity muscle and pulled in influencers ranging from Kendall Jenner to Reese Witherspoon to contribute to a new social media campaign focused on creativity.
Referred to as “creativity selfies”, the “Create. Connect. Condé Nast” campaign in the US, sees familiar faces appearing across social channels in short videos talking about what creativity means to them. Joining Jenner and Witherspoon are the likes of Jordan Spieth, Ronda Rousey, Hilary Rhoda, Lily Aldridge, Kerry Washington, and some 100 of the media company’s own employees.
Condé Nast secured 37 influencers in total, some of which, including Justin Bieber, helped promote the videos on their social media channels, using the hashtag #CreativityIs.
The idea for the project was born last summer when the company’s CEO Bob Sauerberg asked CMO Edward Menicheschi to come up with a way to tell the story of who Condé Nast is today, reports Advertising Age. Menicheschi worked with artistic director Anna Wintour and corporate creative director Raul Martinez, alongside in-house branded content studio 23 Stories, to transform the concept into reality.
There are three 60-second campaign videos, as well as a 15-second version for each publication (some of which can be seen from the tweets below). They are being pushed out via Condé Nast’s suite of social media accounts (a combined total of 120 million followers), not to mention to the millions of additional consumers via the celebrities mentioned. An out-of-home campaign will follow.
Last year’s list of the 100 most innovative companies, according to Forbes, saw French luxury brand Hermès sitting at number 13. Though it dropped to 22 in 2015, it can still be credited as a leader in creating desire coupled with mystique.
This article documenting why, and originally published in Forbes in October 2014, remains as relevant now as it was back then. Yes the elusiveness of its famous handbags is one important factor, but the part you may know less about is the way it consistently defers to creativity online.
While Burberry might be shouted about as a digital pioneer or Chanel heralded for its elegant YouTube channel, not to mention statement-worthy catwalk shows, Hermès should be regarded for the creative content it is pushing out across channels. It regularly, and always quietly, releases everything from quirky illustrated videos to pop-up e-stores that tick every box associated with the brand craftsmanship it is engaged in, setting it apart from many others in the space.
The Forbes list is determined by measuring which companies trade at a level incongruous to their underlying financials and assets, leading to an Innovation Premium (IP). Hermès set a record in 2014, reporting an operating profit of $1.69 billion with $5 billion in sales – the fastest growing business in its industry over the past six years. In fact the only others categorized as ‘luxury goods’ on the list from Forbes were Li & Fung at 41 and Luxottica Group at 51 (in 2015, Luxottica sat at 65, while Li & Fung dropped off the top 100 entirely).
An article in the September 8, 2014 issue of Forbes magazine accompanying the list highlighted the fact Hermès doesn’t have a marketing department. “Why should it? McKinsey doesn’t have a consulting department nor does Microsoft have a software department. Marketing is Hermès’ core business,” writes author Susan Adams.
She quotes the company’s CEO, Axel Dumas (as pictured above): “Our business is about creating desire. It can be fickle because desire is fickle, but we try to have creativity to suspend the momentum.”
Taking it to that online space therefore, one such exercise in creativity in 2014 could be seen in the pop-up virtual store launched, dedicated to the brand’s silk squares, shawls, twills, scarves and stoles. Illustrated in typical Hermès style by Pierre Marie, Lamaisondescarrés.com looks like a grand house with an intricate interior and a diverse series of characters and creatures all featured. There’s a gardener floating on a hot air balloon, sunflowers twisting in the breeze, a play slide atop a large giftbox, a gentleman lying in a hammock and more.
The team behind it referred to it as “playful, welcoming, immersive and surprising”. Created in partnership with agency AKQA, it allows users to explore different rooms featuring 600 models of Hermès signature silks, all of which can be clicked to purchase.
There’s also a link through to two of the brand’s apps – further explorations of creative content, this time with a functional edge. The first, called Silk Knots, is a how-to guide on 24 different ways to tie your scarf through images and videos. The second, the Tie Break app, is aimed at men and includes a variety of GIFs, games and comics as well as collection insights.
Like a fashionable shafeshifter, when he bumps into a lamppost, his jacket and granddad-collar shirt are replaced with a white printed shirt and green trousers; when he hits the wall with the chime of a pinball machine, the green jacket to match those trousers arrives… and so it continues.
Each piece is peppered with an eccentric, playful and quirky feel. Above is another strong example – Hermès taking its signature equestrian reference, and bringing it to life in an unexpected manner. Despite the fact that means models acting out being a horse (#jesuisuncheval is the hashtag), somehow there remains a chic French sophistication to it.
Hermès’ US CEO, Robert Chavez, is quoted in Adams’ piece: “We’ve always said we don’t take ourselves too seriously at Hermès.”
Arguably it’s this combination of creativity and light-heartedness that is making this 177-year old brand relevant in today’s digital world. A beautiful sense of humour anchors it, all the while an air of aspiration is maintained, resulting in content that is some of the best we’re seeing out there from a luxury house to date.
As the intro to the magazine article reads: “Quietly and diligently, the family behind Hermès has become one of the world’s richest, to the tune of more than $25 billion. They’ve done it by not only selling beautiful luxury items but also by selling aura as beautifully as any company on this planet.”