Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Armani models wanted

The topic of branding has been weaved throughout the entire fabric of the Masters of Marketing program. In the Innovative Marketing Strategies unit, we learnt that experiential marketing is a key factor to brand building as it encourages deeper and more frequent thinking. As markets continue to become more complex and competitive, many brands are turning to experiential strategies in order to differentiate themselves, to capture audience hearts and minds, and to drive growth.

Experiential marketing can be a significant investment so it has tended to be dominated by large global brands such as Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola have led the way in experiential marketing through campaigns such as the “Hug-Me” and the “Happiness” vending machines through to the "Small World Machines" campaign. That said, I recently heard of an innovative experiential campaign called “My Picture My Statement” which was executed by Giorgio Armani in Tokyo.

My friend Ashleigh took part in this campaign that involved inviting members of the public to become a model for a day and have their picture taken in Armani clothing at a nearby store. The campaign went something like this:

The entire interaction was well executed and controlled to ensure participants had the desired brand experience. Exclusivity was key and participants initially received a warm VIP welcome, had the store to themselves, were free to look around and select an outfit before being the star in their own Armani photo shoot. I put a few questions to Ashleigh to try and determine the impact of this campaign:

Me: Have you ever been into an Armani store before? Are you more likely to go again?

Ash: No I hadn't really been before. Yes I would go again - now I know that the clothes fit me. I really want that dress I wore!

Me: Would you have bought Armani products before? Are you more likely to now?

Ash: No I hadn't bought them before. It's still a bit pricey, but as I walked around I looked at all the prices and it was actually cheaper than I thought. So I'll keep it in mind.

Me: Has it put Armani above other luxury brands that might be in your consideration set?

Ash: It's moved it into the consideration set.

The exciting thing about this campaign is that Armani is actively targeting a new audience in order to widen its appeal within the saturated luxury goods market in Tokyo. The Armani brand tends to conjure up images of the fashion literate elite, but this campaign makes the brand more accessible in the minds of many potential new customers. It also encourages a shift in attitude towards the brand, creates positive associations, drives online and offline word of mouth, and most of all lets the participants test drive the product through an in-store experience. Who wouldn’t want to buy something they have selected and look great in (especially when they have a photo, and hundreds of Facebook comments, to remind them of how great they looked)?

The campaign will play a critical role in spreading information about the brand but it does come with a number of risks. Armani loses some control of its brand and it also can’t be seen to be diluting its prestigious reputation within the fashion world. However, careful execution will minimise these risks and, I think, result in two core benefits for Armani. Firstly, they are likely to convert dormant customers into buyers, and secondly, the brands exclusivity will be strengthened, as its products will still remain aspirational for many. This desire is an important ingredient to ensure the long-term success of any luxury product. Luxury brands are not immune to today’s challenging market conditions and it is good to see Armani rising to the occasion and trying something new.
What do you think? Should Ash buy the dress? Is this a good route for luxury brands?


Ashleigh as an Armani model

Adam Kennedy: Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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