Louis Vuitton and Keith Richards | Viral marketing magic

By now, everyone has seen the striking Annie Leibovitz portrait of Keith Richards, his electric guitar, and his monogrammed Louis Vuitton guitar case. It is the fourth in a series of ads that have featured Mikhail Gorbachev, Catherine Deneuve, and tennis powercouple, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi.

The ads have been in almost every respected magazine and newspaper imaginable, the Richards image is the current homepage image for the Louis Vuitton website, and the former Rolling Stone is blown up to two story proportions as the hoarding in front of the soon-to-be-expanded Louis Vuitton store on London’s Bond Street.

But somehow, I did miss this YouTube video which goes behind-the-scenes to show how Leibovitz worked her photographic magic with a rock star legend.

Keith_richards_louis_vuitton Over the weekend, a friend was saying that the Keith Richards image really didn’t work for her. In her words, it wasn’t a “good fit”.

Though I understand where she was coming from, I don’t think image is really the point here. This is not a traditional fashion campaign (Louis Vuitton stuck to Mert & Marcus and a few supermodels for that). It’s about creating reverberations amongst the press and consumers, and most-of-all, reinforcing Vuitton’s long-standing heritage in luxury travel luggage.

And in that respect, the campaign can only be considered a raging success. According to France’s L’Express Magazine, which published an article entitled La Folie Vuitton (roughly translated Vuitton madness), more than 8000 press articles have been written about the campaign, the blogs are buzzing with discussion, thousands of people have tuned in to YouTube and Dailymotion to check out the behind-the-scenes video and innumerable conversations like the one I had with my friend have probably also happened. This is what one might call viral marketing magic.

Not surprisingly, a 6th face for the Art of Travel will be announced shortly, following in the line of respected faces from politics, entertainment and sport. Who will be next?

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  1. The campaign concept is sharp. It revives the brand’s travel heritage, speaks well to a broader non-fashion audience, and is extremely buzz worthy. But it must be said that the online articulation has been less than breakthrough. The “behind the scenes” YouTube footage feels like an afterthought. And while the “video diaries” at journeys.louisvuitton.com are textured and authentic, I think LV is missing an opportunity. Digital media is unique in its ability to not only message, but actually demonstrate a brand promise. In this case, the promise is: “for Louis Vuitton customers, travel is an emotional journey.” LV should use the online channel to enable consumers to test drive the brand and actually turn their routine business trips into emotional journeys.

  2. Although this ad campaign has generated a lot of buzz, I believe LV can do much better in the Fashion 2.0 world. Louis Vuitton is such a strong brand. I really believe they should invest more money in the online world. For example, they can do a video interactive ad similar to the Apple one (MAC vs PC) on NY Times website. I think this can create more conversation opportunities with their loyal fans.

  3. The campaign is a breakaway from the usual good looking models on almost any ad you can think of. Sorry, it’s not that Keith is ugly but when I first looked at it, it felt like a painting and somehow that impressed me differently from ordinary ads. Till now, I am still not sure whether Keith’s greenish and brownish skin tone is painted on. Is this a good enough reason to want to discuss the ad online?

    Louis from Singapore, Singapore (general), Singapore