My conclusion was that those luxury brands should find new ways to expand beyond their normal boundaries, as we are in danger of becoming numbed by heartstring exhaustion. On reflection, perhaps this was not the entire story.
Luxury brands are, ironically, very effective at making themselves essential purchases on a rational level. Similar to the washing powders or staple foods, they achieve this through making the product the hero and by stressing an end benefit over pure imagery.
The best example is perhaps for Harvey Nichols. A wall calendar depicts a month of days with each box filled by a series of baked bean tins. Eventually, the final box has the latest "It" handbag from Chloe or suchlike. The nearest strategy to this is for the excellent The Economist or FT campaigns.
It's about spreading the fear that if one does not keep up, and be seen to be keeping up, one will certainly be found out, humiliated and will finally fail. A function of luxury goods is to demonstrate self-confidence and informed engagement with the here and now. That is certainly a functional/rational sell.
A friend of mine gave up her high-powered job in advertising, and has been even more obsessed with owning all the clues that tell the world she is still in control and on top of her game. And now to brands that pull off both function and emotion in equal measure; in effect, achieving the Holy Grail of marketing.
Guinness used a product truth about how long it takes to pour, as a benefit (good things come to those who wait), and wrapped it in gorgeous classy mystic imagery; Heinz Ketchup had the same proposition years ago, but without the glamour - somehow it was not as potent a communication.
So respect to AMV BBDO.
And, finally, I say "bog rolls".
For decades Andrex has used its product as hero, demonstrated superior performance, generated bomb-proof trust and has the fluffy puppy associating itself with the heart of family life and joy.
Respect to JWT. Advertising is still clever stuff, isn't it?
- Jonathan Durden is president and co-founder of PHD, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published on Media Week