At the heart of Balmain’s entertainment marketing strategy | BoF Professional, News and Insights


Balmain showcased its Spring / Summer 2022 collection at Paris Fashion Week on Wednesday, marking its first in-person fashion show since the start of the pandemic as well as the 10th anniversary of creative director Olivier Rousteing at 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 models as well as some of the brand’s hits of the mid-2010s – was also the second edition of the Balmain branded music festival. , an event he organized for the first time in June. 2019. This time he featured performances by artists like Doja Cat, while a voiceover from Beyoncé broadcast to the crowd praised Rousteing for his work for diversity and change in the fashion industry. Broadcast live on the Balmain website, the show was accessible to everyone.

It’s part of Balmain’s approach to “democratizing” its brand through big-ticket entertainment companies. 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 confronts a troubled family past while pursuing big plans for her future. , in a seedy Los Angeles motel. Tommy Dorfman and Charles Melton, former students of the shows “13 Reasons Why” and “Riverdale”, respectively, also make appearances. Rousteing helped with the casting and plot of the series in addition to working on the costumes.

The festival and the series are part of an entertainment-focused marketing strategy that took shape during the pandemic as many fashion brands put the power of video content to the test. The hope is that the five-part series in particular can broaden consumer awareness and help Balmain regain the kind of cultural relevance he enjoyed in the mid-2010s.

“Everything was done in terms of traditional campaigns,” said Txampi Diz, Marketing Director of Balmain. ” What is the next step ? We believe this 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 shorts with acclaimed director Gus van Sant on YouTube and his own channels in 2020, while in 2018 Kenzo brought in Milla Jovovich to star in a superhero-themed short. Rihanna has partnered with Amazon to air her Savage X Fenty show three times since 2019.

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

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

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

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

But the numbers are lower than the results accumulated by some of Balmain’s past marketing successes. Take Zendaya’s appearance on the 2021 Venice Film Festival red carpet wearing a custom Balmain couture leather dress, which has gone 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 required to produce a television series.

Yet a scripted series – and the resulting marketing opportunities, such as campaign images shot on set and appearances at events – can do more to create long-term engagement than a single moment on the mat. Red.

“People don’t like to be sold, but they like to buy, so using a creative outlet to organically integrate your message is more likely to resonate with consumers,” said Courtney Worthman, senior vice president of development at business within the branded entertainment partnerships company. 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 occupies a much smaller market share than luxury players belonging to LVMH and Kering such as Louis Vuitton, Dior or Gucci. Mayhoola does not release sales figures, but Mario Ortelli, managing partner of Ortelli & Co., said Balmain’s relatively small size and weakness in digital infrastructure, as well as its exposure to wholesale and its focus on ready-to-wear likely caused pain during the pandemic. In terms of online influence, Balmain ranked 18th out of 20 in the Lyst Index of Hottest Fashion Brands in Q2 2021.

Only a few years ago, Balmain madness was at its height, with phrases like “Balmain Army” rife on social media. The proximity to the Kardashians and Beyoncé and a fruitful collaboration with H&M has kept the brand at the top of consumers’ concerns.

Between the series and the music festival, Balmain hopes to “fully integrate entertainment into all aspects 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 on location at a festival or watching a show,” Wortham said of entertainment betting at Balmain. “Maybe they’ll walk away with long-time consumers who originally thought, ‘Oh, I can’t afford that. “”

Additional reporting by Robert Williams.

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