I'm blogging about fashionable events, strategies and campaigns worldwide. PR Pret-a-Porter is about public relations, branding, marketing, e-stuff and what I recommend as a fine observer of the market.

With the inauguration of the ZegnArt project in Mumbai – India, Gildo Zegna, CEO of Italian luxury menswear housezegna  Ermenegildo Zegna said that India will likely reach the levels of luxury consumption of China in 10 to 15 years. In India, Zegna operates 5 stores in joint venture with Reliance Group, while in China it operates directlty 100 stores nationwide.

The ZegnArt project features the works of Reena Kallat, curated by Anna Zegna, the exhibition being on display at the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai until 15 May. The ZegnArt project will be hosted in Turkey and Brazil in 2014, coinciding with the Art Biennale in each countries.

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The 2013 World Watch Report shows that Fine Watches have lost none of their online appeal, as the 18 brands tracked by the report posted a 7% increase in online interest. Unsurprisingly, the BRIC countries, led by China, are the main driving forces behind this growth.Patek Philippe

Now in its ninth year, the World Watch Report, which tracks the performance of luxury watch brands based on online searches, reveals in its 2013 edition a global rise of 7% for the 18 Fine Watch Maisons under review*. The report examines 20 markets and a billion queries. “Unsurprisingly, the emerging markets are fuelling this growth,” comments Florent Bondoux of Digital Luxury Group, the producer of the report which has the backing of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie. “Virtually half of global interest stems from the four BRIC countries [Brazil Russia, India, China] and the Asian markets. Chinese internet users clearly outrank others with 31% of searches relating to Fine Watchmaking compared with 20% in 2012.” This 27% increase is matched by growth in Brazil (+30%), Russia (+43%) and even India (+18%), whereas mature markets such as the United States (-11%) and Japan (-12%) have waned. Read the rest of this entry »

In order to maximize sales online, an increasing number of luxury brands are taking a bespoke approach, offering personalized services as well as products exclusively sold online. A research presented by Enora Consulting.

Luxury e-commerce now represents 4-6% of the 200 billion euros in sales of luxury goods in the world, according to different estimates compiled by Enora. Almost nonexistent ten years ago, it grew by 25% per year over three or four years and could remain progression of 20% per annum in the coming years.Today, “the number of brands (luxury) with no site is very low” and “brands are positioned more upscale, less use of the Internet is advanced,” says Enora which points to the fact that a third of luxury online sales in France, today, are made with outlet stocks.

luxury brands

Product customization is one of the most widespread approach on e-commerce by many of the major luxury brands: Louis Vuitton offers personalized online of luggage with ”my monogram”,Ralph Lauren offers customization of their shirts (choice of logo, color, adding initials), Boucheron, customizes rings (choice of stones, shapes, quotes by e-mail), Longchamp is selling on-line a range of bespoke bags made of canvas, while Gucci offers customization of leather goods with the initials of the buyer in gold instead of 2G pattern as well as a collection of sneakers exclusively available for online sale on the Ipad. Read the rest of this entry »

Swiss luxury watch brand Patek Philippe launched a website dedicated to Patek Philippeladies. The Ladies Microsite gives a behind the scenes look at how the brand approaches the design and production of women’s watches and includes an insightful video interview with Sandrine Stern, who heads up watch creation. There’s also a special section that describes the inspiration and production of Ref. 4968, the ‘Diamond Ribbon’ watch, a unique way of setting diamonds inspired by a gymnast’s ribbon.

The new microsite has a primary focus on education with the assumption that ladies need to be educated on watchmaking. The initiative could well be a retort to fashion houses like Dior or Chanel which have been producing watches with a predominantly aesthetic criteria, but the new Patek Philippe fails if compared to other established luxury watchmakers, some of which have taken a more sophisticated approach. OmegaLongines and Audemars Piguet have long had initiatives targeting ladies watches, through exclusive events, celebrity endorsements etc.

One such recent initiative is Longines’  20 year  multi-million dollar sponsorship of Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), an agreement signed between FEI President HRH Princess Haya and Mrs Nayla Hayek, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Swatch Group, which owns Longines. The new collaboration establishes Longines’ consistent and coherent focus on equestrian, being already the official sponsor of Prix de Diane, one of the most prestigious equestrian competitions worldwide.

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PR Pret-a-Porter.

In terms of luxury, the retailers can use in China the following social media channels, according to CPP-Luxury:SOCIAL MEDIA

Successful social media platforms:

WeChat – owned by Tencent, hosts over 200 million users and has allowed brands like Louis Vuitton and Coach to send product details daily. Chow Tai Fook uses the platform to send promotional text messages and rewards those who share or reply.

Meilishuo & Moguai – similar to Pinterest, where members make virtual collections of favorite items. Beauty brands like Lancome and Yue-Sai have been quick to see the value of these sorts of websites.

iQiyi – Baidu’s video-streaming service has become the second-largest site in China. Luxury auto brands like Audi and Buick are launching “storytelling” advertising campaigns here, including a test-drive market program and Buick sponsored TV programming – iQiyi is a great way for interactive advertising to revs its engines. Read the rest of this entry »

According to the fashion related website, CPP-LUXURY,  at times, overshadowed by the excessive coverage on China, several important international luxury markets have shown solid growth in 2012, defying worldwide volatile economic conditions. These markets have been showing great potential not only for the retail sector but also for hospitality, yachting and travel, with an increased appetite for luxury and with a strong motivation to buy locally rather than abroad.  Read the rest of this entry »

This tweet, from @BarackObama, was sent a few hours before the final scores of the elections:

In that span of time, it became the most retweeted tweet of all time. In that span of time, the note-image combo was retweeted — as of this writing — 298,318 times.

Not only that, but another Obama victory tweet garnered 167,939 retweets tonight in the space of just under 40 minutes:

This happened because of you. Thank you.

Which means that President Obama gained another victory tonight: Not only did he retain the presidency, but he outsted none other than … Justin Bieber. The singer — before tonight — held the record for the most retweeted tweet, at (as of this writing) 223,376 retweets:

The president also ousted Green Bay Packers offensive linesman T.J. Lang (98,688 retweets):

Fuck it NFL.. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs.

… and Floyd Mayweather (89,055 retweets):

Manny Pacquiao I’m calling you out let’s fight May 5th and give the world what they want to see.

We’re not waiting for the others to concede. Barack Obama is the clear Twitter winner. Obviously, this is the victory the president will be savoring most tonight.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Great list of mistakes …

Bob Pickard: PR in Asia

After ten years in Asia, Bob Pickard gives precious information about public relations in Asia. via

1.  Communication should start with humble listening, not boastful talking

Especially at a time when communication is becoming more and more about conversation on social networks, succeeding in this new Asian age demands listening and thinking with an open mind attuned to modern Asian sensibilities, not just talking and bulldozing ahead with traditional Western approaches.

2.  What works in America or Europe doesn’t necessarily work in Asia

It’s a common sense point, isn’t it? But time after time, I see public relations effectiveness in Asia needlessly compromised by presuming that the way PR is done in New York or London will be effective in Tokyo or Hong Kong. Whether it’s how media relations is conducted or the way that communities form on social networks or even how people use language to communicate, the Asian experience can be markedly different than Western ways.

3.  Asia is not a country

Indeed, as far as PR campaigns are concerned, there really is no such thing as a market called ‘Asia.’ It’s amazing to me the cookie-cutter assumptions I sometimes encounter about doing PR here; as if what works in China will work in India even though within each, there is an incredible degree of demographic, cultural, and linguistic variation.

4.  Asian PR merits serious investment

Communicating with such diverse constituencies can command considerable PR resources, because operating in multiple languages takes much more staff time, which costs more money. When you consider the economic pressures of rising salary expectations in countries where the GDP is growing (not to mention high inflation levels in many markets), then higher prices than one has historically expected of Asia can be anticipated.

Stereotypes should not set PR budgets; Asian PR can already seem expensive compared to what many have assumed in the past. I’ve seen no shortage of situations where someone thinks that if PR costs a certain level in the West, then it should surely cost much less in the East, where ‘there’s much more cheap labour to go around.’ The problem is, in many Asian countries, PR is a relatively new or emerging field of endeavour, meaning that there’s a large demand for a much smaller supply of experienced PR people, driving prices up. Then there’s the expectation that all PR staff must be fluently bilingual in an international firm, in markets where often huge majorities of the population do not speak English, meaning all the recruitment demand fishes in a tiny bilingual talent pond that further steepens the cost spiral.

5.  Quality is the thing

There is a lot of restless multinational PR money roaming around Asia, switching from one agency to the next, fed-up with mediocrity and looking for certainty of positive outcome across borders. In some Asian markets, there are few or not enough post-secondary institutions offering PR education, so the smart firms are taking matters into their own hands and building their own training capability. Education must be at the heart of building a premium PR brand in Asia. As especially friends in North Asia will remember, setting the PR standard for quality is my #1 priority. I often remind myself of what one of my Korean clients once told me: “Aim for the money, and quality suffers; aim for the quality, and the money will always come.”

6.  English fluency is no guarantee of success

In many Asian PR offices, the best writer in the language that matters in the market may not communicate in English so well. When I ran offices in Seoul and Tokyo, some of our best media relations people couldn’t speak much English but the clients sure loved the publicity results. English fluency is no guarantee of a great strategic mind, and there can be these apple-polishing bilingual poseurs who manage overseas audiences well in the language of convenience for head office.

7.  Forget the cultural condescension

Partly because English is a second language in Asia (meaning many PR people may not be so keen to challenge and engage in fast-moving debate in English at meetings and on conference calls), there is still this widespread sense that Western PR is somehow superior to or more advanced than Asian PR, but in my experience that’s not objectively valid nor relevant in most circumstances. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen loquacious foreigners come to Asia with the attitude that the Asian PR people are a relatively ignorant audience whereas they are like oracles. A more peer-to-peer approach always earns the most goodwill. Let’s also note that Asia is now teaching PR lessons of its own, as we see with the worldwide rise of ‘apology communications.’

8.  Asian PR citizens of the world

A few years ago when I was running the Korean operation of another agency, I attended one of its meetings in Washington, DC when I made what I regarded as a statement of the obvious: “The global PR firm that attracts and champions the Asian talent will be the PR firm that wins in Asia.” I was challenged on that point by someone there, and was told that “the Asians look to the expatriate for leadership.” It was ironic to hear that kind of outdated talk, because my Korean successor was sitting in the room with me, and I think a key reason our office was the fastest-growing at that time in our company was the fact that the Korean staff knew he would be taking over after my two-year term and felt highly motivated by that eventuality (he and they went on to grow the business bigger than it was during my tenure).

There have been some stories lately about how because of ailing Western economies, job-seekers are heading East to Asia looking for opportunities. I don’t doubt it, but actually there have always been plenty of people heading to Asia; in the PR world, the flow in the other direction has been more like a trickle.

The Asian going West in an international PR firm — more so than vice-versa in my experience — can face many obstacles: stereotypes about whether people from their country can do well in the target country, assumptions about their ‘quality level’ (see above), questions about their language capability, whether they will find ample client business to fund their relocation, how adaptable they will be to a new cultural context, etc.

The priority must be on achieving diversity, not conforming to be the same. That’s why cross-border transfers in our consultancy aren’t rare; they are routine – and sincere (i.e. not primarily designed to prevent people being poached by a rival firm).

9.  Asia as a global platform

For many years, the dominant trend in Asian PR for multinationals was the import of Western money, ideas and people into the region, but now we we’re starting to see significant export of all these things from Asia by all kinds of exciting emerging multinationals (who will become globally famous from Asia for the first time on a digital marketing platform).

Just about every other week we see major Western multinationals anchoring important international headquarters and global functions into Asian centres like Singapore, Hong Kong or Shanghai. Some PR firms are seizing this opportunity and putting global functions into the region – such as the leadership of our energy practice based in Beijing – but alas others still have the attitude that anything ‘worldwide’ must of course be based in a Western centre like New York or London.

10.  ‘Face’ is just as important as Facebook

Probably the most important perspective you gain by actually living in Asia over several years is an innate feeling for the all-important ‘face‘ dynamic. Time and again, I’ve seen Westerners make costly mistakes in Asian commercial situations because they just don’t get it. In my opinion, grasping and mastering ‘face communications’ is the most important thing to know about doing PR in Asia.

I can’t write any blog on this topic without mentioning the value of relationships, which I think tend to have a different and often a more durable dynamic in Asia. During an era when a world with a shrinking attention span is embracing the transactional ways of fast-moving cool ‘digital’ technology, there is a special significance to the warmth of  face-to-face ‘analogue’ relationships that stand the test of time.

Generally when doing business in Asia, I think the feeling is more ‘relationship first, contract second’ rather than ‘contract first, then relationship.’

Compared to what I knew working on the other side of the Pacific where needlessly aggressive and often angry e-mail communication is certainly not uncommon, here I find relatively friendly – if often spirited – face-to-face encounters are more the norm when it comes to solving disputes and finding common ground.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

1.  Electrolux Vac from the Sea programme, which ranked fourth in our Creative Index, is an example that combines everything required of a modern public relations campaign: social understanding, channel neutrality, ideas big and small, and a focus on genuine behavioural change.

2. Jung Relations’ efforts for Absolut, meanwhile, which see powerful public relations thinking infuse the company’s product strategy, are similarly impressive.  Two that stand out are the Absolut Unique project, and the NoLabel campaign.

3. Another campaign that should not be overlooked is MSL’s Ariel Fashion Shoot, recently named one of our Global SABRE Award winners.

via

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Heineken®, the world’s leading premium beer brand, today announced a thrilling new TV and digital campaign, in anticipation of the release of the 23rd James Bond adventure, SKYFALL™, which sees Daniel Craig bring his explosive portrayal of James Bond to a Heineken ad for the very first time. Challenging consumers to defy his enemies and ‘Crack the Case’, viewers will be taken on an epic train journey alongside stunning Bond newcomer Bérénice Marlohe.

 

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The case discusses the crisis faced by Coca-Cola in Europe, particularly Belgium, in which people mostly school children fell ill after consuming its products in mid-1999. Coca-Cola had to recall about 30 million cans and bottles, the largest ever product recall in its 113-year history. For the first time, the entire inventory of Coca-Cola’s products in Belgium was banned from sale. The case describes the crisis in detail and discusses how Coca-Cola managed it. The way Coca-Cola handled the Belgian crisis was a classic example of one of the worst public relations fiascos in the corporate history. The case also highlights the need and importance of a crisis management plan to prevent such fiascos in future.

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The Naked Espresso

Australian creative agency Reborn helped Breville promote its Dual Boiler by introducing the art and science behind the perfect espresso. ‘The Naked Espresso‘ used physical computing to create live visualizations of the coffee as it was being brewed by measuring and graphically displaying the flow rate, pressure, temperature, and steam.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a Porter.

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