Why Rolls-Royce and Tissot attempts in the digital world should not be followed?

Rolls Rolls IPhone screen

One of the main ideas we have been insisting is that luxury brands should not consider social media as an end, but on the contrary, as a tool that is fully included into the global strategy of the brand.

Social media is a deep evolution translating the changes happening in our societies. It is a social phenomenon and at the same time, it is just a communication tool. So how luxury brands should try to deal with it?

The first comment to make here is that after being very fearful about social media trends, because of control issues mainly, luxury brands are finally getting in the wave. And as you might have seen it through some of our articles, some brands have been very creative among the thousands of available possibilities. Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Chanel or Jimmy Choo have been some of the most innovative brands and have done so without compromising their brand image. Additionally, the campaigns they’ve recently led have proven that luxury brands could be at the same time innovative and successful regarding social media.

But not all brands have understood this and we are still seeing some attempts at getting into the “social media vibe” but with actions that seem completely out of any global strategy.

The last two “failed” attempts I recently saw were the new Rolls Royce iPhone App and the new Tissot Augmented Reality App. Rolls Royce recently announced that it was launching its first iPhone App which allows you to configure your ideal version of the new Rolls-Royce Ghost – a model that costs from £192,500, to see a few pictures of the car and to find the closest dealer.

The main issue I have with this is: why would they do something like that? The App is indeed well conceived, the pictures are nice – although the 3D version of the car looks pretty cheap – but it doesn’t match any need. The impression it gives is: Rolls-Royce’s marketing team really wanted to do something social media/mobile oriented so they did an iPhone App.

When Apple decided to launch its App Store, it was in the aim that Apps would be created to match a need – even a useless one. Rolls-Royce is a fantastic brand with an amazing history, a brand that has always been some sort of a symbol, the exemplary British Lifestyle. Is this all they’ve got for us non Rolls-Royce drivers? Cause let’s be honest, if the aim was to speak only to Rolls-Royce buyers, they would have developed something completely private, very exclusive, that would be deeply constructed for them.

When a company decide to enter the whole social media/smartphone wave, it should develop its actions in order to reach a precise aim that is fully included into their global brand strategy.

Another brand made a pretty incomplete move into the social media world: Tissot, with its Augmented Reality App. You could tell me that it is the future? Sure, but when you are a Swiss watchmaker promoting a certain number of values, traditions & quality, should you be trying to catch people’s attention through some sort of buzz? I mean an Augmented Reality App today means cutting a piece of paper and putting it around your wrist. Is this really the experience a 160 year old Swiss watchmaker wish to provide to its customers?

You don’t buy a watch as you buy a T-shirt; buying a watch should be the product of an experience where the product will have been selected among others. If the Augmented Reality App had been developed towards a whole buying process – allowing customers to get a better look at what a Tissot watch is, then I’d say it makes sense. If customers had already picked their precise model and they were using the Augmented Reality App to choose the colour of their bracelet, then it would feel right.

Today, it looks like Tissot is just trying to make a buzz, hoping people will associate this with innovation in order to both enhance the brand awareness and to reinforce the brand’s long time innovation tradition. But when you do look at the introductive video or when you watch the Selfridges’ animation – one of London’s most luxurious department stores – it looks more as if Dannon was giving away free samples of its latest yogurt.

As long as you are selling an exclusive product, you shouldn’t get into the buzz process as it won’t have a long term impact on your brand. Sure, people – after trying it – will get to know what Tissot is and might associate the brand with innovation but if you ask me, the distinction between a gadget and real useful technology is rather small and I am not sure how both Rolls-Royce & Tissot would like their name to be associated with the term gadget.

I am not saying that luxury brands should stay away from iPhone Apps & Augmented Reality Apps – as for instance Gucci did pretty well with its Little Black Book iPhone App – but it should all be conceived toward a precise and easy to understand aim that looks like if it had been conceived from the beginning of the strategy, not as a last minute attempt.

Luxury brands must be careful about how they deal with their image and what they decide to unveil. Remaining out of the game is clearly not an option anymore, but each campaign, each move, should be thought as a part of the global strategy aiming for a precise objective and not just to make a point. Otherwise the impact could be very different from the expected results.