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Humour: The new symbol of luxury

Examples of successful use of humour in fashion
Two ladies walking towards a Prada shop in the middle of nowhere, ring-fenced with a plague presented as an exhibit

Up until a few years ago, embracing irreverence and humour in a luxury fashion marketing campaign would have been avoided at all costs.

It’s true that historically, humour and luxury brands have been mutually exclusive concepts. Luxury defines clear limits while humour sets the world upside down. But was the luxury industry missing a trick? Recently, some traditional fashion houses have distorted the traditional communication codes of the luxury industry. Valentino, Gucci, Hermès and Stella McCartney have embraced humour as an effective tool within marketing. Why? Because humorous campaigns present a new concept of luxury: attention-grabbing, accessible, highly shareable and connected to reality.

According to Deloitte, by 2025, Millennials and Generation Z consumers are predicted to represent more than 40% of the overall luxury goods market. In 2017, they were responsible for 87% of its growth. The Gen Z demographic alone is slated to be the single largest group of consumers worldwide in just a few years. And millennials are expected to be the largest spenders by 2035. So, it is essential for luxury brands to pivot to meet this digital generation and take a more light-hearted approach to better meet these new consumer preferences.

Even if some brands are still reluctant about integrating humour into their marketing, many others are recognising its increasing importance and are adapting their communication to target online consumers. Humour is not necessarily antagonistic to luxury; both can even walk hand-in-hand. Used correctly, humour could help engage the consumer at a more fundamental level. Luxury brands are no longer just about sumptuous and exclusive products. The new-gen consumer is seeking a meaningful connection. Humour makes us feel good and builds consumer loyalty. In a disconnected digital world with increased loneliness and isolation, high-end brands are taking notice of all the humour benefits.

Many luxury houses are already using humour to mock the real world while proving they don’t take themselves too seriously. By adding humour to their marketing mix, brands have managed to create complicity with their younger consumer. According to Sandra Choi, creative director of luxury footwear and accessories brand Jimmy Choo, “Humour makes a difference to the monotony of what is already out there. And it’s something you wouldn’t expect from a luxury brand. That’s what makes it surprising because people have this preconception that luxury is just meant to be serious and perfect.”

Examples:

• The GCDS “Dinner’s Ready!” campaign uses the backdrop of a warm, family dinner to create an inviting, inclusive space for all. Even while having dinner, make it fashion. That was the vision for GCDS’ latest collaboration with pasta brand Barilla, two staples of Italian culture coming together in full retro technicolor, with Italian fashion icon Sophia Loren as the dinner host.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Gucci’s artist-curated memes (#TFWGucci)

Fendi has loosened up its image with its new focus on their double F logo.

Anya Hindmarch sparked a small revolution in 2007 using humour for inspired pieces that, according to a spokesperson for the company, always sell out the moment they hit the shop floor. Hindmarch mentioned that if consumers are responding well to the lighter side of fashion, it is “perhaps because there is a sense of [childhood] nostalgia of not being so serious all the time.”

• The brand Piaget’s mockingly and cleverly reversed roles in its “Becoming the Boss” video series. Here an arrogant wannabe undergoes a series of embarrassments in the presence of his low-key boss, who wears a Piaget watch.

So, is humour something you should consider for your future campaign? Probably if you want to bring your consumer closer to you! So far, no one has employed Jim Carrey as a luxury brand ambassador, but maybe you should. The younger generation has the buying power to reshape the luxury market. Embracing humour can certainly make for a powerful communications strategy toward the new-gen consumers. As Jeremy Scott, creative director of Italian label Moschino, said, the message delivered with humour is more effective than one without.

Of course, the concept of what is funny can differ from consumer to consumer and luxury brands might hesitate to be ‘funny’, fearing to inadvertently offend. But not every piece of content needs to be hilarious. You just need to bring a smile. And that could be just what we all need.

  • Do you think humour is important in the future of luxury brand promotion?
  • And does luxury and humour work well together?

Share your thoughts with your peers in the comments below.

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Digital Playground: Where Luxury Fashion is Finding its Sense of Humour

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