The advertising sector that the recession forgot

The luxury category is thriving, Steve Cox and Jean Faulkner claim, with high-end brands showing no sign of reining in their marketing spend.

Steve Cox, marketing director, JCDecaux Airport
Steve Cox, marketing director, JCDecaux Airport

STEVE COX MARKETING DIRECTOR, JCDECAUX AIRPORT

- How is the luxury category performing in these challenging economic times?

We've enjoyed a phenomenally successful year at our airports. Spending in the luxury category has increased by 40 per cent year on year, boosted by iconic airport campaigns from the likes of Mulberry, Burberry, Dior and Gucci. These are challenging times economically, but passenger figures are up, and clearly these affluent and educated travellers are still in the habit of treating themselves and their loved ones to something special. Luxury is still at the heart of the travel experience.

- What does your environment offer the luxury advertiser?

Our research shows us that we behave differently when at the airport. Airports are still regarded as locations of glamour and style - precisely the environment with which luxury brands wish to associate. In focus groups, respondents talk about how they are disproportionately inclined to spend at the airport. And, while we might not all be inclined to splash out on a new Rolex while flying on business to Glasgow, we know that 27 per cent of our business travellers have at some time purchased a watch or some jewellery at one of our airports.

- Which recent luxury campaigns are you most proud of?

Some of the most eye-catching executions I've seen recently have been from brands in the luxury cosmetics market. At Heathrow Terminal 5, Estee Lauder has taken ownership of the prestigious couture retail area by vinyl-wrapping the central liftshaft with unmissable standout imagery. Heathrow retail has really bucked the trend this year. Sales across the first six months are up by a staggering 16 per cent year on year, with each individual shopper spending an extra 8 per cent. Chanel, too, has looked to capitalise on these increases with some truly gorgeous campaigns on our synchronised runs of digital screens.

- What is unique about your offer for luxury brands?

Our offering always starts with the consumers we deliver - affluent, engaged travellers with money to spend. Fifty per cent of our business travellers earn more than £100,000, and they're happy to spend some of it at the airport. When you combine that with high-end retail propositions, lounge dwell-times in excess of an hour, and a range of advertising panels positioned to maximise visibility and share of voice, the benefits are compelling.

- How do you see the luxury market changing in the future?

One area where we're seeing significant change is in luxury marketing to travellers from the BRIC nations. These are markets bucking the trend when it comes to economic growth, and this is reflected in the higher disposable income of travellers from these regions. Consequently, we'd expect to see more advertising expenditure in terminals where a large proportion of flights service them.

- What is the greatest luxury in your life?

Despite my suave, jet-setter image, I'm really a man of simple tastes. For me, one of life's greatest luxuries is settling down in front of a classic old movie with a good bottle of single malt. Or, even better, a good movie with a classic old bottle of single malt.

JEAN FAULKNER MARKETING DIRECTOR, CONDE NAST

- How is the luxury category performing in these challenging economic times?

All the leading luxury brands advertise across our portfolio. If ad investment is a measurement of economic confidence, then 2011 was better than 2010. Our magazines booked 11,254 ad pages - 564 more than in 2010 - with many titles achieving double-digit growth.

In a recent ad review, Conde Nast was the only glossy magazine publishing house to increase share year on year. March Vogue is more than 400 pages strong, of which 263 are ad pages; revenue is up 6 per cent year on year. The latest edition of Love booked 181 ad pages with 20 new advertisers. GQ is half-an-inch thick this month. Quality and quantity! Online ad revenues grew 15 per cent in the past year, partly due to dynamic audience growth and because of new investment - increasingly from luxury brand advertisers. Luxury brands are also investing in our iPad and iPhone apps, and our events.

- What does your environment offer the luxury advertiser?

Our business might be multiplatform now - print, online, apps, events such as the House & Garden fairs, Wired 2012 and the inaugural Vogue Festival - but what links all these elements together is quality. We invest in the highest production standards to create an environment of luxury. The same values apply to everything we do - our aim is to be the best and, in doing so, we connect with a significantly large audience of affluent, smart, influential people.

- Which recent luxury campaigns are you most proud of?

All the luxury brands advertise with Conde Nast, and we are proud to consistently carry outstanding campaigns. More brands are taking enhanced premium advertising in our iPad apps. The level of creativity is extraordinarily special; in the past few months, we have carried advertising from brands such as Tiffany, Tom Ford, Moet & Chandon, Harrods, Armani Code, Range Rover, Mercedes and Tag Heuer. In terms of events, O2's sponsorship of Wired 2012 and Vertu's support for the first Vogue Festival are terrific, and the GQ Men and Glamour Women of the Year awards offer unequalled exposure for our sponsors in each case.

- What is unique about your offer for luxury brands?

Conde Nast is the gold standard in magazine and digital publishing. Our editorial excellence attracts a unique audience - affluent, smart consumers who want the best and look to our magazine brands for inspiration. Our titles influence the influential.

- How do you see the luxury market changing in the future?

More investment in digital - not just websites, but in response to what will be a proliferation of mobile tablets and phones as a means of delivering content, connecting with the consumer and making the sale. Many luxury advertisers are doing exemplary work in the digital space. We live in extraordinarily interesting and exciting times.

- What is the greatest luxury in your life?

It's a cliche, but true - time, with the people I love, in places I love, doing things I love.

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