Friday, November 9, 2012

The Brad Pitt Brand Theory

It can take years, even decades to build strong brand loyalty with consumers but oppositely, it can take one bad ad campaign to destroy it. Building a brand, in the mind of consumers, is about making your product or service breakthrough the endless fog of competitors and stand out amongst them. This doesn't happen overnight, nor without careful planning and execution of a strategic marketing campaign.

I was doing some research for another blog entry when I stumbled upon the train wreck that is the Brad Pitt endorsement for Chanel  no 5. I watched it, tongue in cheek, trying to figure out exactly what the ad agency was thinking when they came up with it. Before we get into the meat and potatoes of this post, check out the ad:

I watched this commercial at least a half-dozen times before I finally threw my arms up in the air and thought to myself  'This ad makes zero sense'. But did it need to? The answer is no and here's why it doesn't and why it works.

- Chanel is an established brand with a very loyal consumer base
- They are using one of the worlds most attractive men to sell women's perfume
- The ad, which now has over 5 MILLION views on YouTube was successful at getting people to talk about the ad which in turn is word of mouth for Chanel

So even though Brad Pitt looks like he's just climbed out of someones carry-on bag and the copy he is reading appears to be written by a failed slam poet, the ad WORKS.

Revenue Boosting Potential

Most women who live on planet earth are familiar with the Chanel brand. Using Pitt as a spokesperson has the potential to tap into a new market for Chanel no 5... MEN. There is no doubt that Pitt is an icon and someone whom many men (though they won't admit it) see as a trend setter and his endorsement of a female fragrance makes the product more accessible to men - meaning they will more than likely feel more comfortable navigating the often intimidating perfume/cosmetics vaccuum in their local department store, dodging over coiffed saleswomen trying to spray perfume in your direction in attempt to lure you in, and make a beeline straight to the Chanel counter. We will have to check out their sales during the upcoming holiday season but the 'average Joe' Pitt may very
well be the ticket to drive men to the department store without a nudge from their significant other (imagine that).

Not All Brands Can Survive a Bad Ad Campaign

Chanel reportedly paid Brad Pitt $7 million to appear in the ads but they can afford it; the Chanel brand is the 4th strongest luxury brand in the world with a brand-worth of over $6.7 billion. It would be safe to assume that they could produce a commercial with circus clowns riding camels through the
desert and still manage to make it profitable. On the contrary, there are brands who jump the gun when testing the waters of non-traditional advertising and some cross lines that completely turn off consumers altogether. Star power is just that - power... power of recognition and association with a certain lifestyle. Some ads use them and win, others use celebs and fail. A great example of this comes to us from Groupon - a brand without a ton of worth, recognition or loyalty, who produced this textbook example of a brand crushing ad for the Superbowl. Even with some star power, the quasi-offensive content was the equivalent of stepping on someone's nerve with 5-inch heels:


Admittedly, Timothy Hutton is no Brad Pitt but Chanel did not step over any lines with their campaign, where Groupon (a fairly new brand) did. Chanel's ad campaign created a buzz and a constant stream of word of mouth. Groupon succeeded only at offending people. It doesn't matter what the message is or who your spokesperson may be, taking all members of your audience into consideration through careful consumer research and analysis is key to a successful campaign. Having a strong brand-worth doesn't hurt either. An example of how, in the vast world of advertising, only the strong can survive.

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