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Is more TV marketing on the horizon for fashion marketers?

February 25, 2013


Apparel and accessories marketers in the luxury sector reserve television advertising for accessible products such as fragrance, but Louis Vuitton’s first commercial signals powerful branding opportunities on the channel.

Louis Vuitton dropped its first TV spot in November that was part of its L’Invitation au Voyage branding campaign while Ralph Lauren experimented with the medium through its first network sponsorship two months earlier. TV is certainly an expensive mass marketing channel, but fashion houses with a larger budget should not discount the branding power of TV.

“Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren are both incredibly large, global companies, so they are not your typical luxury brands,” said Jordan Phillips, author of “The Lure of Luxe,” New York. “They both offer entry-level products, so TV makes much more sense for them than more exclusive niche luxe labels.

“That being said, social media certainly broke the barriers in terms of what channels are acceptable for luxury brands to participate in,” she said. “Now any channel is fair game if executed correctly.”

Trying TV

Louis Vuitton moved into TV advertising last year with its first commercial that aired Nov. 11 during Showtime network’s “Homeland.”

The subject of the spot was the L’Invitation au Voyage campaign that features model Arizona Muse.

Louis Vuitton supported the TV commercial with print and digital marketing.

One element of the campaign was a Facebook application where consumers could view the digital premiere of the commercial.

Also, the print campaign included placements in Vanity Fair and The Wall Street Journal (see story).

Louis Vuitton commercial

In September, lifestyle label Ralph Lauren became a corporate sponsor of Masterpiece, the drama series on PBS that boasts TV programs such as “Downton Abbey” and “Sherlock.”

The brand’s first sponsorship messages aired Sept. 30 during “Upstairs Downstairs.”

Ralph Lauren is creating different spots to be shown during each show in the Masterpiece series.

The brand chose to partner with PBS’ Masterpiece since both represent the same qualities, per Ralph Lauren (see story).

Audience approved

Fashion houses including Chanel, Giorgio Armani and Hugo Boss often use TV advertising to push fragrance, which makes sense since viewership is made up of consumers in many household income levels.

But this year, marketers should not discount the spending power among lower earners.

In fact, one current driver of luxury spend is coming from the aspirational buyer, per Bob McKee, fashion industry strategy director at Infor, Chicago.

“The affluent buyer is likely just as impacted by the use of the TV commercial as the aspirational buyer,” Mr. McKee said.

There is also brand awareness power in TV that luxury marketers should not forget just because the medium is not solely tailored to ultra-high-net-worth consumers.

Wealthy consumers are known to purchase products such as luxury cars with a status attached to them, per Al Ries, cofounder and chairman of marketing strategy consultancy Ries & Ries, Roswell, GA.

This applies to fashion as well. Designers and fashion houses can let more consumers know that their brand is desirable through a TV commercial.

As a result, more consumers can aspire to purchase from the brand and admire owners of the brand's pieces.

“To be truly successful, a luxury brand needs to become famous, not just among prospects, but among everybody,” Mr. Ries said.

Moving image

The Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren campaigns could also signify the decline of print advertising, per Mr. Ries.

“Luxury brands need constant advertising to keep their brands alive and well,” Mr. Ries said. “Up till now, this advertising was concentrated in a handful of high-end print publications.

“But these publications are losing readers and even more important, losing the cache that used to come with full-page color advertisements, so they are dipping their toes in TV,” he said.

Also, TV commercials are more effective than print ads in showing the movement of a product.

Luxury brands that have the budget to delve into TV advertising must use movement to take full advantage of their spots.

“Look at the fashion shows – the models don't just stand there and have the audience appreciate the designs,” Mr. Ries said. “They walk, or rather sway, down the runway so the audience can see the designs from a number of different angles.”

Social tube

Aside from fragrance campaigns, luxury fashion houses often use print in cross-channel efforts while they neglect TV. As a whole, they are leaning most on digital marketing and advertising.

One of the most popular marketing mediums at the moment is social video.

Video gives movement to static campaign assets and allows marketers to show products or portray a lifestyle.

For example, Louis Vuitton is presently showing off its Mini Icons collection in an upbeat social video that depicts the handbags in use by stylish women during a spring afternoon in Paris, while other scenes show animations, graphics and bags arranged in deliberate shapes (see story).

Louis Vuitton video

Also, British fashion house Burberry is flaunting its spring/summer 2013 line comprised of multicolored, metallic pieces in a vibrant video that features Posh Spice’s son Romeo Beckham, the new face for the brand (see story).

Burberry video

TV advertisers Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren are driving a long-overdue change in video marketing, per Infor’s Mr. McKee.

“We’re dealing with a new consumer – a consumer who is connected 24-seven,” Mr. McKee said. “This new connected consumer may actually view commercials on YouTube, where they are able to comment to and interact with the brand itself.

“While the TV itself may be less important to the connected consumer, the use of the well-developed TV commercial should have a positive impact,” he said.

“What the marketer must keep in mind is that whatever they create must be done in a way that lends itself to viewing over any number of alternative media options.”

From a sales perspective, TV is not as budget-friendly as digital to market new collections.

Luxury fashion marketers should consider TV as a key medium to push brand awareness campaigns, but steer clear if the message is product-focused.

“For marketing a luxury fashion brand’s new collections, I would recommend sticking to digital efforts over TV,” Lure of Luxe LLC’s Jordan Phillips said.

“TV marketing is best suited for entry-level products that have a wider target audience, like small leather goods, fragrances and cosmetics,” she said.

Final Take
Tricia Carr, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York