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Lateral thinking required

The evolution of luxury lifestyle PR makes it suited to a certain kind of brand-savvy professional.

Lateral thinking required
Lateral thinking required

Our in-depth knowledge of the high networth British and international consumer, their media of choice and the brands they adopt sets APR apart from other consumer agencies. Our approach - to apply a lifestyle comms discipline to luxury and prestige brands - enables clients to tap into the behaviour and motivations of this hard-to-reach individual. Such bull's-eye targeting is vital for luxury and prestige brands, whose customers are drawn from a relatively tiny segment of the population and who are increasingly targeted with ultra-bespoke marketing by luxury international brands.

Twenty years ago, luxury lifestyle comms was virtually unheard of. Our agency was a pioneer in this space, carving a reputation for the most exclusive marketing and PR campaigns. We made the corporate party chic for iconic champagne brand Krug and put rock 'n' roll designer Versace together with establishment brand De Beers to create legendary millennial event 'Diamonds are Forever'. Now brands fall over themselves to deliver a customer experience - from supermarkets to coffee bars - and we can't remember a life before the constant drip of clever marketing ploys and lifestyle interest platforms that draw us into their world.

Flexibility is an important commodity. From fashion to food and drink, travel and leisure, interiors, design, watches, jewellery and every kind of high-end retail purchase in between, the terrain is varied - but the focus remains the same. Often we are hired by clients who have previously worked with 'specialist' drinks, travel or even fashion agencies, but who find themselves seeking a more lateral approach to the long-term positioning of their brands. The relationships we have with top editors (and the high net-worth consumers themselves) is a key part of our offer and a result of the powerful brands we represent.

Over the past 20 years, luxury lifestyle PR has evolved from a simplistic blend of celebrity-filled events and media relations to a multi-disciplinary approach that reflects the digital age and the vogue for 'conversations', where the currency is knowledge. Charity can soften a corporate message and enable brands to access new audiences. We recently staged the annual Grey Goose Winter Ball to benefit the Elton John Aids Foundation. This concept began life five years ago as a small brand partnership between Grey Goose vodka and the foundation, and has since developed into a major brand platform for Grey Goose globally, delivering almost £0.5m worth of coverage for the brand in the UK.

We use natural synergies between clients to reach out to a mutual target audience in a creative and powerful way. 'Home House Live hosted by Raymond Weil' is a digital campaign that brings emerging and established music talent into the environs of private members' club Home House, sponsored by watch brand Raymond Weil. The material is streamed on to media such as GQ.com and standard.co.uk.

The challenge is to keep luxury relevant for heritage brands. Partnerships are key to delivering a more 'edgy' approach, to appeal to a younger audience. This year, we brought together super-premium gin brand Bombay Sapphire with hip luxury interior brand House of Hackney and cult East End eatery Bistrotheque to design a gin den, opening up the brand to a more trend-led audience.

Strategies that safeguard and future-proof are more important than short-term gains for luxury and prestige brands. Our role is to protect and position against the vagaries of fashion, so that these brands can live on.

VIEWS IN BRIEF

Which film best sums up the spirit of your agency?

Apollo 13 for superb teamwork and the people's ambition, skill and dedication.

What is the most impressive piece of launch PR of the past year?

The La Senza Cup Size Choir campaign, which featured national TV advertising and a web application that allowed consumers to play carols on the 'Cup Size' virtual keyboard. This led to lots of viral social media exposure and media hype.

Specialist journalists make the best specialist PROs. True or false?

Not in a lifestyle agency. We need flexible, brand-savvy PR professionals who can apply their knowledge of luxury brands' audiences laterally to a range of clients.

Alix Robson is managing partner at APR Communications.

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