Inside Balmain’s entertainment marketing strategy

On Wednesday, Balmain presented its Spring-Summer 2022 collection at Paris Fashion Week, marking its first in-person fashion show since the start of the pandemic as well as Creative Director Olivier Rousteing’s 10th anniversary with the brand.

But this season, a return to the podiums was not enough. The fashion show – which featured models like Naomi Campbell and Carla Bruni in an extensive collection of new designs as well as some of the brand’s mid-2010s hits – doubled as the second iteration of the Balmain brand music festival, an event he first organized in June. 2019. This time it featured performances by artists like Doja Cat, while a Beyoncé voiceover played over the crowd praised Rousteing for her work for diversity and change in the fashion industry. . Balmain sold 4,000 tickets to the public and invited 1,000 brand guests. Streamed live on Balmain’s website, the show was accessible to everyone.

It’s part of Balmain’s approach to “democratizing” its brand through big-budget entertainment ventures. Balmain’s scripted television series, “Fracture,” is also part of this strategy. Produced with UK broadcast network Channel Four, “Fracture” tells the story of a struggling musician, played by actress and musician Jessie Jo Stark, who comes to terms with a troubled family past while pursuing big plans for her future. , in a seedy Los Angeles motel. Tommy Dorfman and Charles Melton, alumni of the shows “13 Reasons Why” and “Riverdale,” respectively, also make appearances. Rousteing helped launch and plot the series in addition to working on the costumes.

Both the festival and the series are part of an entertainment-focused marketing strategy that has taken shape during the pandemic, as many fashion brands have tested the power of video content. The hope is that the five-part series in particular can broaden consumer awareness and help Balmain regain the kind of cultural relevance it enjoyed in the mid-2010s.

“Everything was done in terms of traditional campaigns,” said Txampi Diz, Balmain’s marketing director. ” What is the next step ? We believe that is an option.

Fashion Content with ‘Credibility’

In recent years, many fashion brands have stepped up their attempts to capitalize on the “Netflix revolution”. Gucci released short films with acclaimed director Gus van Sant on YouTube and its own channels in 2020, while in 2018 Kenzo tapped Milla Jovovich to star in a superhero-themed short. Rihanna has partnered with Amazon to stream her Savage X Fenty show three times since 2019.

The results, however, have been mixed. Gucci’s project with Gus van Sant racked up a few million views on YouTube, while the Savage X Fenty shows generated significant online buzz and, consequently, sales.

Balmain’s strategy is different, said Diz, who believes that prioritizing storytelling over product lends credibility to brand content. (That’s not to say clothes don’t play a role: Every character in the series is outfitted in full Balmain looks from the brand’s Pre-Fall and Fall/Winter 2021 collections, most of which are available for purchase.)

It’s a sharp attempt to reach new customers (especially those aged 20 to 35) who “don’t have Balmain in mind…but we can, through this, surprise them and connect”, did he declare.

According to the brand, the series and related content has garnered 4.6 million views on Channel Four, with the largest viewership coming from the UK, followed by Brazil, Russia and Italy. The series garnered an additional two million views on platforms in the United States and France, and four million views through Chinese platform Tencent.

But the numbers fall short of the results racked up by some of Balmain’s past marketing successes. Take Zendaya’s red carpet appearance at the 2021 Venice Film Festival wearing a custom Balmain couture leather dress, which went viral online, amplified on Instagram by the reach of Zendaya’s 110 million followers. And the investment required for a red carpet appearance, no matter how extravagant, is significantly less than the budget needed to produce a television series.

Still, a scripted series — and the resulting marketing opportunities like campaign footage shot on set and appearances at events — can do more to create long-term engagement than a single red carpet moment.

“People don’t like to be sold to, but they love to buy, so using a creative point of sale to organically integrate your message is more likely to resonate with consumers,” said Courtney Worthman, vice-president. Senior President of Corporate Development at Branded Entertainment Partnerships. Burns Entertainment.

More than just a TV show

The stakes are high for Balmain, which has invested heavily in its entertainment strategy.

Owned by the Qatari investment fund Mayhoola, Balmain has a much smaller market share than luxury players owned by LVMH and Kering such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Gucci. Mayhoola does not release sales figures, but Mario Ortelli, managing partner of Ortelli & Co., said Balmain’s relatively small size and weak digital infrastructure, along with its exposure to wholesale and its focus on ready-to-wear, have likely inflicted pain during the pandemic. . In terms of online influence, Balmain ranked 18 out of 20 on the Lyst index of fashion’s hottest brands in the second quarter of 2021.

Only a few years ago, the Balmain craze was at its peak, with phrases like “Balmain Army” rife on social media. Proximity to the Kardashians and Beyoncé and a fruitful collaboration with H&M have kept the brand in the minds of consumers.

Between the series and the music festival, Balmain hopes to fully “integrate entertainment into every aspect of the market and communications strategy” as part of a plan that has been in the works for four years, Diz said.

“It’s more about the experience and the lasting relationship with the brand that you can build when you’re there at a festival or watching a show,” Wortham said of Entertainment Betting from Balmain. “Maybe they’ll walk away with lifelong consumers who originally thought, ‘Oh, I can’t afford this.'”

Additional reporting by Robert Williams.

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