They called him the Sun King. Louis Vuitton’s celebration of their new flagship store with a nod to the French monarch Louis XVI at the Place Vendôme, Paris is everything that encapsulates them as a brand. Rising four stories high, a colossal golden sun adorned the building, glinting in the soft morning light and emphasising to the world the themes of elegance, prestige, and luxury that are the cornerstones of the Louis Vuitton brand.
Over the course of this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, I listened to many fascinating stories of creativity and saw some truly incredible examples that have been put into practice. None, however, matches the scale and imagination achieved by Louis Vuitton and their Visual Image Director Faye McLeod, who gave a talk on five ‘windows’ she and her team have designed over the last few years.
The execution of their window designs is nothing short of magnificent. Faye took us through five examples that she is proud of, taking in locations across the world from the streets of New York City to the plazas of Chengdu. Where their ‘Sun King’ installation in Paris evoked the grandeur and glamour of ‘Le Grand Siècle’, the window created in their third Chengdu Maison playfully engaged with the Chinese Year of the Tiger through a larger-than-life ‘Tiger tail’ coursing around the building. Inspired, somewhat bizarrely, by the roller brushes seen in car washes, the tail was produced on a gigantic scale, cutting through the corridors and rooms of the Maison and even snaking around the exterior. The design proved a viral hit, with Chinese patrons even snipping off clippings of the tail as keepsakes.
What struck me most was the creative freedom entrusted to Faye’s team, something that is in short supply in a business world obsessed with margins and cost-effectiveness. The faith put in her by Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) is a testament to the principle of putting creativity at the heart of one’s most successful brands, rather than restricting it in the hopes of conserving one’s position. It is notable that Faye related that she initially didn’t get the Sun King campaign quite right, but was entrusted to fix the original idea rather than scrap it. Their trust paid off: such was the impact of the campaign that it has been recycled three times already since its debut in January last year. Given that it is extremely rare for luxury fashion houses to reuse shop window displays, it is clear the Sun King campaign has lived up to the impression of its namesake.
“What struck me most was the creative freedom entrusted to Faye’s team, something that is in short supply in a business world obsessed with margins and cost-effectiveness.”
Of course, not many companies can boast the financial clout of LVMH, whose market capitalisation stands at some £359 billion. This naturally gives them more capacity to back an ambitious, creative-first approach in some of their larger brands that do not suffer the exceptionally tight profit margins of others. But creativity is not just a byword for profit sacrifice, indeed, in the world of fashion it is arguably the cornerstone on which truly iconic brands are built upon. In a saturated media market, true creativity is what sets apart the best from the rest, and ensures that they cut through to their target audience. Investing in creativity, even at the cost of short-term gains, can often be the path to longer-term dominance.
Though we talk incessantly about creativity in PR and marketing, we often hamstring ourselves by limiting the scope to what we think aligns with a narrow idea of our clients’ brands. As Louis Vuitton has shown, we can be bolder and more abstract in our thinking. The nature of our profession means we are often subject to the strict demands of what a client views as core to their brand identity. But we would be failing in our jobs to provide them with a cutting edge if we are afraid to push the boat out and pitch them new and innovative ways of communicating. At The Agency Partnership, it’s an essential part of our job as an external agency and as consultants to appropriately challenge and push our clients to think differently and consider other points of view.
Creativity is by its nature a fraught process. We will not always get it right, indeed we will sometimes fail spectacularly. But there is little in life worth doing that does not involve accepting risk and true creativity often exists on the precipice of disaster. While we must always calculate danger carefully, we should take Louis Vuitton’s example of unrestricted creativity to heart, and be unafraid to see where our imagination can lead us.
Article by: admin