by: Idris Mootee

 Luxury
brands are finally joining the social network parties. Remy Martin, a cognac
that sells for over $1,500 a bottle, Remy Martin's Louis XIII's customers are
looking beyond traditional media for marketing. They are planning a big
marketing push with a by-invitation-only social network aSmallWorld for an
experiential campaign that extend into offline events targeting clients with a
fifth over $1 mm annual income.


These
private gatherings allow members to sample expensive cigars, fine hors
d'oeuvres and share a bottle of Louis XIII. The idea came from MEC
Interaction's (a WPP unit) community activation team, a division that looks for
opportunity to generate word-of-mouth advocacy, hit upon three-year-old
aSmallWorld as a perfect place to find global influencers for a high-end luxury
product like Louis XIII. The by-invitation-only social network is based
squarely on exclusivity, not much different from by-invitation software beta
trail.

aSmallWorld is an invite-only space for
wealthy jet
setters
and celebrities. ( I believe Tiger Woods is a member) Membership has its
privileges. You'll need to know someone on the inside. The idea is that most
people in the world are separated by no more than six degrees, but to get into
aSmallWorld, you need to be within three degrees of the elite. Once you are a
member, you can gain access to private villa parties in Capri, masked balls in
Shanghai and special wine tasting in Nappa Valley.

This
is an example of how luxury brand can take niche brands that once might not
have garnered much in the way of marketing support into the web 2.0 world. I
believe there are plenty of opportunities for luxury brand to take advantage of
social networks, it will take some bold thinking. The much-anticipated
diminishing return of advertising (including interactive ad) is not yet here,
signs are showing that we're moving that way. If anything, the industry seems
to just be looking for alternative media. In fact, advertising revenue on
social networks alone is projected to reach # billion by 2010. Most will
agree that advertising isn't exactly going anywhere, marketers are increasingly
putting  emphasis on
brand engagement over brand awareness. Finally, thank God. To foster
this deeper engagement, agencies are investing in experiential marketing
campaigns. According to MICE Group, an experiential marketing agency, 87% pf
the world's top 100 brands rank experiential marketing as one of their top
three marketing activities.

In
the meantime if you would like to join aSmallWorld please let me know, we're
planning a private food tasting gala at Burger King next month.

Original Post:
http://mootee.typepad.com/innovation playground/2007/08/luxury-brands-s.html

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