Luxury advertising, re-defined?

Since its creation in 1994, Italian luxury brand MARNI, today owned by the OTB Group (Diesel, Maison Margiela, Viktor & Rolf), has taken the luxury world by surprise with the launch of its first ever advertising campaign, for Fall/Winter 2015-16 season.

Although it may appear that this ultra-discreet exposure was a strategically planned business approach for almost 20 years, it is rather a reflection of the brand’s solid DNA which allows for such ‘surprise’ undertakings, which are essential for an authentic luxury experience, engaging both existing and potential consumers.

This apparent ‘freedom’ from any marketing constraints has been mastered by Hermes, Azzedine Alaïa and Celine, with a 360 degree implementation across product development, creative direction, retail, digital presence and advertising.  Examples include Hermes’ web site and lack of any celebrity brand ambassadors, Alaïa’s catwalk absence from fashion week calendars or Celine’s extremely selective and tightly controlled distribution and very limited presence on social media.

Recently, the audacious choices of campaign ambassadors by Givenchy – Donatella Versace and Dior – Rihanna stand proof for the effectiveness of this ‘surprise approach’ which can only further strengthen the power of the DNA of the brands. Earlier this week, Rihanna teased the launch of her fifth fragrance, Riri, on Twitter with a Barbie-look image, marking an abrupt change from the provocative advertising of her previous fragrances.

However, there are also negative examples, for instance, Gucci’s incoherent shift of creative direction and communications following the depature of its CEO and Creative Director earlier this year.