Media: Double Standards - Bringing a life of luxury even during a downturn

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 05 February 2010 12:00AM

The publishers of Vogue and How To Spend It reveal how advertising in the luxury goods market has held up during the recession.

DOMINIQUE MOSELEY - magazine and luxury publishing director, Financial Times

- How true is it that luxury goods advertising holds up well during a downturn?

The luxury goods ad market has been affected by the downturn. Declining luxury consumption has an adverse effect on luxury brands' marketing budgets, and this time it was especially noticeable in the US and Japan. Consumers have become more considered buyers, and well-established luxury brands that demonstrate authenticity, craftsmanship and heritage have been best placed to succeed. At the FT, we benefited from the "flight to quality" with continued strong demand for premium positions in How To Spend It, newspaper and online.

- How have you innovated to attract new advertising from this sector?

How To Spend It has become the benchmark for luxury lifestyle magazines since its launch 15 years ago, and over the years, we have introduced the mid-month themed special around Fashion, Interiors, Christmas, Yachting, and Travel. Three years ago, we developed a Friday issue for our weekday readers. Last year, we launched the standalone website howtospendit.com while increasing the frequency of How To Spend It magazine from 26 to 28 global editions. This year, we will continue to invest in the How To Spend It brand with an extra print edition around the world of the arts entitled Smart Arts on 20 February, and we will continue to develop our online offering.

- What do advertisers like most about your brand?

Three main things. First, the quality of our global readership. The FT attracts the world's affluent and discerning power-brokers and decision-makers, who not only have the means but the inclination to consume luxury products. Second, like our readers, luxury brands are attracted by the FT's global editorial coverage and its reputation for integrity and quality. Finally, the FT continues to not only innovate but invests in its portfolio which creates new opportunities for luxury brands.

- Why is print such a strong medium for luxury goods?

Luxury goods advertisers demand large formats and premium positioning in order to promote their brand and image. They invest heavily in their creative and the advertising in magazines has become part of the reader experience. Print continues to offer a very strong proposition for these needs.

- In general, how innovative and creative are the ads you run from luxury goods companies? Can they stand up to the best that the ad industry has to offer?

If the objective of all advertisers is to stand out, luxury brands need to be more cautious than most in order not to cheapen their brand. In How To Spend It, we have been challenged to create executions beyond gatefolds. For example, we had split covers from Samsung last year with a special varnish finish. Online has provided an opportunity for luxury brands to be more innovative. In 2009, we created "Behind the dial", in partnership with Jaeger-LeCoultre, which was an interactive brand hub on FT.com using rich media, video and 3D photography to show what really goes into the making of an exquisite watch.

- How well are luxury brands embracing online opportunities?

As media consumption is becoming more integrated, luxury brands will need to follow suit and find ways of branding online. A good example is the "Leadership" section on FT.com, sponsored by Rolex.

- What is the greatest luxury in your life?

With a 20-month-old, definitely time.

STEPHEN QUINN - publishing director, Vogue

- How true is it that luxury goods advertising holds up well during a downturn?

Luxury goods advertising was affected by the economic recession across 2009 and budgets were cut by cautious finance directors. Ad pages from this category were down 19 per cent over 2008. The market is showing a very welcome comeback for spring 2010 in response to strong trading on quarter four at brand flagship stores and in the premier department stores. Confidence is returning fast.

- How have you innovated to attract new advertising from this sector?

The most concrete innovation is market intelligence. We asked the highly regarded YouGov to research the market in March/April 09 and the outcome was the Vogue Business Report 2009, answering important questions on market behaviour during a period of economic instability and stress. The report showed that the affluent core of glossy readers continued to spend, but with more discretion. We also have a strong online offering with vogue.com, so are perfectly positioned as the number-one choice for cross-platform luxury brand campaigns.

- What do advertisers like most about your brand?

Vogue has a clear brand position as the fashion bible; it is the place to discover new fashion trends, and is the pre-eminent magazine to feature the top fashion and beauty advertisers. Clients love that confidence and certainty.

- Why is print such a strong medium for luxury goods?

Upscale women turn to the quality monthly glossies first for news on fashion and beauty and remain committed spenders in the luxury market. Women are in love with glamour and style, and every page of our magazine stimulates the hunger for beautiful products and provides inspiration.

- In general, how innovative and creative are the ads you run from luxury goods companies? Can they stand up to the best that the ad industry has to offer?

The creative quality is incredible: two examples, among many; Madonna for Dolce & Gabbana shot by Steven Klein eating spaghetti with her hands and washing-up, which only she can do in such a seductive way. Chanel shot in Argentina by Karl Lagerfeld with a strong Latin feel; very erotic, full of intrigue.

- How well are luxury brands embracing online opportunities?

Luxury brands such as Burberry, Prada and others are cognisant of the fact digital is a crucial area for brand awareness - whether with live streaming of fashion shows online, significant in-house digital team hires, or bold creatives.

- What is the greatest luxury in your life?

The greatest material luxury in my life is a wonderful Polo Ralph Lauren winter coat. Terribly smart, terribly warm.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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