In a recent article in The New York Times, Cathy Horyn notes that the prices for luxury goods are likely to increase, which may be good news for more-affordable brands who want a piece of that action. She also points out that “a number of astute fashion chief executives, notably Patrizio Bertelli of Prada, have sounded a glummer note, saying that what the industry really needs is more desirable products.” We couldn’t agree more.
While some brands are envisioning more culturally and socially relevant products by collaborating with designers and artists, most brands still rely on traditional product development and marketing channels. Yet the objective for both is the same: to wrap new products and events in a ‘story’ that can garner genuine interest and that oh so elusive ‘desire’.
As we’ve seen, the keenest interest gets generated when brands explore new paths. And as we’ve seen again and again, collaborations with contemporary artists can provide the vision, creativity, and meaning that would otherwise be difficult to achieve.
For example, could Dom Pérignon have generated the level of talk value they got with Jeff Koons’ Balloon Venus without Jeff Koons? Or perhaps the better question is, how many millions of dollars would Dom Pérignon have had to spend in media and advertising to achieve the same result? Although a collaboration with an artist like Koons would not have been cheap, a media plan able to reach across continents and create the clamor and respect this collaboration did would undoubtedly have set budgetary records.
To ask the question in reverse: could a brand in our own backyard have achieved the same level of buzz, notoriety and desire with a simple art fusion collaboration? Could Inniskillin, a Canadian award-winning Original Estate Winery known for its pioneering icewine production trigger the same level of awe and interest by joining forces with a high caliber artist? Perhaps a series of collector’s edition bottles to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year? Or could the Hudson’s Bay’s starkly modern designer dress salon, The Room, renovated for approximately $4.4 million by the designers Yabu Pushelberg, push further and transform parts of its ‘room’ into art space—drawing the art-loving, disposable-income-dropping creative class they so covet?
While the objective of art fusion is to create more desirable products, spaces, and events that can generate talk value and social media buzz, the end result can still be quite unpredictable. This, of course, can be mitigated by taking several critical strategic steps before making the jump.
Stand by for our next post on what brands should ask themselves before considering an art fusion collaboration, plus a guide on how to tell a more compelling story by applying a ‘one-of-many’ or ‘many-of-one’ approach.