How Hermès and Stella McCartney are reaching Gen-Y audiences, with the help of amusing viral marketing campaigns.
Humour and luxury have historically been mutually exclusive concepts.
In an industry where significant amounts of money are involved, the marketing and service strategies for luxury brands have traditionally focused on respect, formality and prestige. No one, thus far, has employed Jim Carrey or Eddie Murphy as a luxury brand ambassador.
Where successful marketing has the ability to connect with a large variety of people, humour has the converse ability to inadvertently offend a similar number of people. The concept of ‘funny’ will differ considerably from consumer to consumer, possibly the reason luxury brands have remained within the realm of glamour and desire, in creating their aspirational campaigns.
Most brands accept that humour has not, and will not be a part of their marketable DNA. Others however, are recognising the increasing importance of Gen X & Y consumers, and adapting their communication platforms and strategies to better serve this segment. Whilst the physical boutique may remain a den of antiquity and old world customer service, brands are realising that their online presence, targeted at a different demographic, can be a little more risqué.
One of the oldest luxury houses, Hermès, has created one of the most modern, considered and humorous video offerings in the digital space. The concept is simple but innovative and easy to watch. The nod to skateboarding is unquestionably an attempt to connect with the Gen Y audience, yet the childlike humour is universally appealing. Whilst it may not sell a $30,000 Birkin bag, it allows the brand to transcend its traditional positioning while showcasing the breadth of their product range.
As a younger brand, utilising humorous online content, to launch a children’s line, is probably not as far a depart from traditional communications as it is over at Hermès. Nonetheless, this collection of kids enjoying themselves, in a room full of colourful paint without rules, is an engaging, funny and appropriate utilisation of the medium. It will no doubt speak to the next generation luxury consumer parents, who might appreciate the finer things in life but refuse to take themselves too seriously.
Both offerings show an understanding and appreciation of the viral marketing concept, leveraging the human pre-disposition to share anything humorous and ensuring a large amount of coverage from consumers outside their target audience. Both confirm there is a place for humour within the luxury sphere, when it is thoughtfully and appropriately managed.