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Chanel is 2013 Luxury Marketer of the Year

December 31, 2013


Chanel is Luxury Daily's 2013 Luxury Marketer of the Year for the measured attention it paid to multiple consumer segments, its strong use of video and its advertising flair in luxury publications.

The French fashion house won over first runner's-up Cartier and second runner's-up Burberry. These top luxury marketers earned recognition for their flexible attitudes to digital marketing and long-term, organic campaigns suffused with brand legacy.

"Chanel proved itself the master of the narrative in 2013," said Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief of Luxury Daily, New York. "Each piece of communication and marketing was another link in the grand construct of the Chanel story. A luxury brand's key achievement is to stir longing and emotion for craftsmanship and high quality, and Chanel elevated the standard with marketing whose finesse was unmatched and much admired."

The Luxury Marketer of the Year award was decided based on luxury marketing efforts with impeccable strategy, tactics, creative, execution and results. All candidates selected by the Luxury Daily editorial team had to have appeared in Luxury Daily coverage this year. Judging was based purely on merit.

Cartier was 2012 Luxury Marketer of the Year, with Four Seasons as first runner's-up and Burberry as second runner's-up (see story).

Next round of consumers

Chanel's credentials were first burnished more than a century ago, but the rise of non-heritage, digitally adept brands in recent years has called for the fashion juggernaut to polish and adorn its image to remain relevant.

Under the creative direction of Karl Lagerfeld, the brand has answered this call on many levels, identifying and improving areas of weakness and rejuvenating the mystique that has captivated generation after generation of consumers.

At the start of the summer, Chanel rolled out a new mobile site that offers commerce for its beauty lines and resembles the Web site overhaul from last December for brand continuity.

Shopping bag 

The most proficient part of the mobile site is the beauty section that integrates mobile commerce and easy vertical navigation. This portion of Chanel’s mobile strategy likely spurred sales since consumers are more open to buying beauty via mobile rather than high-ticket apparel, jewelry and watches (see story).

Shoring up relationships with entry-level consumers has occupied Chanel for much of the year. A new makeup line called Les Beiges Healthy Glow Makeup became available in August and was courted by a series social promotions.

Video still

Chanel released two videos to commence the collection. One is a short commercial that shows off model Gisele Bündchen using the makeup and the other is a tutorial by makeup artist Lisa Eldridge.

Les Beiges

This campaign was extended through a video series titled “Makeup Revelations” that showcases insider tips by Ms. Eldridge for enthusiasts who want to create a branded look at home.

Chanel presented the video’s content as a secret but maintains a fun sensibility by pairing the tips with a lighthearted video featuring models gossiping about an unknown subject.

The ecommerce-driven series includes six videos that explain how to use Chanel cosmetics, most notably the brand’s Vitalumière Compact Douceur, to “capture the sun,” “reinvent radiance,” “reveal your natural glow,” “to blend,” “to shine” and “to play with light" (see story).

An accompanying video series enlists actress Diane Kruger to explore the nature of beauty while drawing fans closer to the transaction finish line for its skincare line.

Where Beauty Begins video

The most transparent move to win younger consumers came when Chanel tapped Twilight actress Kristin Stewart to star in its advertising campaign for its Métiers d’Art Paris-Dallas.

Ms. Stewart and Mr. Lagerfeld

Chanel typically uses fashion models rather than celebrities in its apparel ads, so this campaign shook things up at the couturier and invigorated the brand's grip on a new, younger audience that relates to Ms. Stewart.

Ms. Stewart has an existing relationship with the brand, attending fashion shows, including the house’s Fall 2013 Couture presentation in July. She was photographed with Mr. Lagerfeld at the show.

The actress has also worn Chanel evening wear on a number of red carpets, including the 2010 British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute Gala the same year (see story).

Casual dominance

Chanel's rush to lock in entry-level consumers was contrasted by its ambitious and dreamy web of heritage films. Each released after substantial build-up and to colossal audiences surpassing 10 million views, the films color in aspects of the brand's origins.

An 18-minute brand film was released that signals the label's innovation and willingness to break the rules of digital marketing.

Film still

The film called “Once Upon a Time” with actress Keira Knightley, the longtime ambassador for Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle fragrance, starts in 1913 when Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel has opened a namesake hat boutique in on the Rue Gontaut-Biron in Deauville, France.

Film still

The label’s creative director Karl Lagerfeld produced and directed the film to show how the brand’s founder revolutionized fashion by creating a new style concept for modern women (see story).

The far-reaching influence of the “Bijoux de Diamants” diamond collection is explored in the third segment of the Inside Chanel video series that debuted in January (see story).

Another history-laden film was aired recently in Dallas to solidify Chanel's relationship with Neiman Marcus and illuminate how the United States has facilitated the brand (see story).

Promotional poster

A 30-minute docudrama focusing on Ms. Chanel's return to fashion following World War II aims to immerse fans in a crucible period of the brand's history (see story).

Yet another series explores the myriad variables that informed Ms. Chanel's iconoclastic styles (see story).

Coco - Inside Chanel

Fans were also reminded of Marilyn Monroe's endorsement of the iconic fragrance Chanel N°5 through a micro site and video (see story). Ms. Monroe will be featured in ensuing ads.

Video clip 

Chanel's famous jacket was honored in a video that bungees into heritage once more but swings up to depict modern incarnations.

The jacket - Inside Chanel

Lighter direction

On the other side of the spectrum, Chanel produced an array of contemporary, product-driven videos. These videos have flippant tones and showcase the modern Chanel consumer.

The brand's Première watches were positioned as a collection that can translate to all occasions by showing stylish women going about their daily lives (see story).

La montre Première

In the heart of the summer a micro site was introduced that celebrates of women and shows the fall/winter collection in informative, shoppable manners.

Women Only fall-winter pre-collection video campaign

This careful oscillation between reverence and playfulness propelled Chanel's marketing strategy throughout the year.

The two divergent styles seen in Chanel's videos converged through print campaigns in top luxury publications that reached the affluent backbone of the brand. The fashion label showed its might with multiple prime ad placements in all the major luxury publications.

One of its more provocative ad campaigns arrived mid-summer. The clustered ads depict stern-faced models in austere, black-and-white, futuristic settings.

Chanel ad

Given such depth in marketing and portraying the brand, it is easy to award Chanel with the 2013 Luxury Marketer of the Year honor.

First runner's-up: Cartier

The French Jeweler built upon its soaring digital reinvention last year to keep consumers engaged on multiple platforms and further its heritage-based promotions.

The tones that Cartier achieved throughout the year of jaunty sensuality and opulent imagination can best be captured by some of its video campaigns. The brand's Paris Nouvelle Vague collection was illuminated in seven 60-second films that each give an emotion and attitude to a ring in the French jeweler’s new collection.

Cartier videos

All seven of the videos use the same song “I Love Paris,” which was originally written by Cole Porter. The short films are available at

Cartier also explored its high-jewelry collection through an immersive social video that takes enthusiasts on an animated adventure meant to symbolize the brand’s creative journey.

L'Odyssée de Cartier - Parcours d'un style video

Second runner's-up: Burberry

Although the potentially brand-rattling news of its CEO transition to a senior Apple position is the British fashion house's primary headline of the year, Burberry retained its grip as the most digitally innovative luxury fashion brand.

Perhaps the most significant move by Burberry this year was its Beauty Box in London that places all commerce in the hands of digital touch points. Consumers can find Burberry’s beauty, fragrance and accessory with the help of sales associate consultations and digital touch points, including mobile checkout.

Interior of Burberry’s Beauty Box

By creating a space specifically for its beauty line, Burberry encourages consumer interaction with its beauty products, drives sales of the new line and tests out new retail tactics (see story).

What now seems like a segue for CEO Angela Ahrendts, Burberry showed its bird's eye view by partnering with Apple to showcase its upcoming spring/summer 2014 collections through images and video captured on the new iPhone 5S prior to the phone's official release (see story).

Video still

Burberry was also recognized by L2 as the highest performing fashion brand relating to digital for the third straight year (see story).

Final take
Joe McCarthy, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York