Digital Scorecard | Burberry 3D Live Stream

Burberry Autumn/Winter 2010 | Source: Burberry

Burberry Autumn/Winter 2010 | Source: Burberry

LONDON, United Kingdom — It was billed as the world’s first truly global fashion show, taking place on the penultimate day of London Fashion Week, beamed live in 3D to five global cities, and streamed to the rest of the world via 73 websites, including Vogue, Grazia and CNN, which all picked up the video feed in a global simulcast. It was undoubtedly the  most widely distributed fashion show a luxury brand has ever staged, potentially reaching an audience of more than 100 million users, according to Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts.

At first, I was disappointed that BoF had not been invited to attend the real event at London’s Chelsea College of Art, but in the end I’m glad to have experienced Burberry’s live internet stream. It all felt very 2010, especially as I ducked into the Regent Street Apple Store to watch the show after a late lunch. It was a fashion moment.

The stream began just after 4 pm with what Cathy Horyn of The New York Times described as an “info com” comprised of a pre-recorded presentation from Burberry’s Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey, as well as live interviews with Angela Ahrendts, models backstage and celebrity guests arriving at the show venue. “Grave doubts about this prelude of a model chatting backstage, now Twiggy arriving. A bit naff,” tweeted Ms Horyn. “Want the show to start. It’s like watching paint dry.”

Then, the lights finally went down and a series of seriously slick shearling jackets clomped down the runway, eliciting bursts of excitement from editors tweeting from the front row and viewers watching around the world. For the clothes alone, it was worth the wait.

“First look: cropped shearling,” described Joe Zee, Creative Director of Elle, who along with Bryanboy, had been given control of Burberry’s Twitter account for the Autumn/Winter 2010 show. “OMG!! Reverse shearling!!! It’s just as good inside out. Sold!!!” he raved.

Cathy Horyn, watching the 3D stream from New York’s Skylight Studios, agreed. “The shearling jackets were so ample, fluffy and round, the trousers and narrow skirts so spindly that at times on Tuesday the Burberry show resembled a lane of dandelions gone to seed,” she wrote later on her New York Times blog, On the Runway. “To be sure, Christopher Bailey’s outerwear for the British label was especially strong, with those romantic flight jackets spreading or curling at the collar and the pomp of officer coats.”

During the show Burberry appeared as one of the top ten trending topics on Twitter, but some of these tweets complained of problems with the live feed. Comments from users scrolling below the Burberry stream itself also came fast and furious. The words “Amazing” and “Love” appeared over and over again, with viewers sometimes shouting out their city of origin — Montreal, Sao Paolo, Los Angeles — underscoring the truly global nature of the event. The comments were 100% positive or neutral.

After a few minutes, my own feed crashed. I refreshed it several times, and then it crashed again. But below the black screen, comments continued to provide second-by-second commentary on the show — still overwhelmingly positive. Was nobody else experiencing the issues I was? Or was Burberry filtering out comments that were unfavorable to their global event? To explore the issue further, I entered a comment indicating that I was experiencing trouble with the feed, but it never appeared with the rest of the comments. This left me thinking.

THOUGHTS:

Expectations? My expectations were high. I’ve been calling Burberry the world’s first truly digital luxury brand, and as the leading brand in the space I fully expected Burberry to set the standard for the rest of the industry, in terms of strategy, concept and execution.

First impressions? The show was indeed amazing. It was well-orchestrated, well-publicised and generally well-executed. The issues with the live feed were frustrating at times, but these are kinks that can be ironed out in seasons to come and a brand like Burberry clearly has the technical prowess and determination to get this new phase of digital fashion communication right. It requires guts and audaciousness to attempt and achieve something no brand has done before. For this, Burberry deserves many kudos.

Most potential? The ability to buy the covetable shearing jackets straight off the runway for 72 hours after the show was a master stroke. While many brands have talked about doing this, no brand has actually put the concept into practice the way Burberry has — strategically identifying a product as a key item, ensuring it was featured front-and-centre at the fashion show, and selling the jackets at the peak of consumer interest, right after the show had finished. By limiting sales to a 72 hour window, Burberry also ensured sales opportunities for its wholesale partners down the road, while creating a sense of urgency for consumers to purchase right away if they so choose. Best of all, with the insights gleaned from which products sold fastest on the internet directly after the show, Burberry will have real consumer data upon which to base orders for normal delivery to its stores around the world — every merchandiser’s dream.

What’s missing? Greater authenticity. While maintaining the spirit and standards of the Burberry brand must have been of paramount importance, so is providing an authentic and real experience for all the participants. Since when was it acceptable for a CEO and creative director to give a PR pitch before a fashion show starts? Unfortunately, the pre-show promotion felt rehearsed and forced, and detracted from this otherwise brilliant initiative. And if Burberry was indeed filtering live comments from their internet viewers to ensure only positive feedback appeared, in my eyes this also takes away from the authenticity of the experience.

Imran Amed is Founder and Editor of The Business of Fashion



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12 comments

  1. It’s a keeper and I absolutely Love it….

    Vernita from Clarksville, TN, United States
  2. I too had problems with the stream. Hopefully they will opt with someone like Akamai or Limelight next season instead of their current provider http://videojuicer.com (a laymans interface for CDNetworks)

    I agree with you about filtering comments, too many brands are trying to control conversation on social media instead of just letting it happen. If the service or product is good it should sell itself.

    Of course there is going to be subjective commentary, but these comments should be published. Lude comments and expletives can be removed by expression filtering.

  3. I like how you outlined both the good and the bad in reference to Burberry’s show and live stream.
    I think it was genius on their part to have the pieces on slae for up to 72hrs after the show.
    Wonderfully well written piece.
    Glam Kisses,
    Marian

  4. These are some great observations, Imran. Personally, I was knocked out by the collection, and I liked the live stream presentation very much. The straight-to-market product availability was brilliant. I would certainly hope that Burberry was not filtering comments as it would really burst my bubble. The one point upon which I slightly disagree is whether or not it was acceptable for a creative director to give a PR pitch before the show. In this case, I didn’t feel as though it was forced at all simply because it was Christopher Bailey. He strikes me as someone who is quite genuine, and who is sincerely enthusiastic about Burberry. I felt that his opening pitch was completely appropriate for the market which Burberry is targeting. After all, this is Burberry, not Chanel. He was merely making an introduction, and welcoming his audience. It was more like “Hey, we’re trying something new – Hope you enjoy the show”.

    George from San Marcos, CA, United States
  5. It truly was a fashion moment! I thought the quality the excitement of the commentators posting from all over the world really made it feel as if I were experiencing something new. Bravo Burberry!

    La Genevoise from Geneva, 07, Switzerland
  6. Btw I too experience a minor crash and was a bit peeved!

    La Genevoise from Geneva, 07, Switzerland
  7. It was a great initiative on Burberry’s part and you raised good points, I do like to attend shows when possible because so far in my experience cameras sometimes fail to capture the little details and camouflage execution shortcomings.
    Can’t wait to see what comes next!

  8. I really enjoyed the show and the whole presentation. The feed quit on me several times and I too reached out to see if anyone shared my experience (to no avail.) I was also wondering if it was literally a live feed or was delayed a bit. Does anyone know? Thank you for the article. I didn’t feel that the packaged segments were insulting – that is, indeed, the business of fashion. The brand prepared an extremely well-executed, polished and expensive runway show – why should the overtly commercial pre-show be offensive?

  9. I’m not really into fashion but love what Burberry are doing in the digital sphere, have never felt so close to a brand before and it’s great to see others following.

    Also agree with George, didn’t feel it was a sales pitch at all, and was honoured to hear a figure like Christopher Bailey give his own personal insight – which for me was the exciting bit, not so much the clothes. Def draws in a wider audience. Already looking forward to what’s coming next.

    LD from Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom
  10. As a student hoping to pursue a career in possibly the editorial or business realm of fashion, I found your post very relatable. Bloggers like yourself hold a certain responsibility to cover fashion’s transition into the digital age, and I enjoyed your take on Burberry’s latest accomplishments. In my opinion, you rightfully call Burberry “the world’s first truly digital luxury brand.” From the first-ever live 3D stream, to the easily accessible live 2D stream, to the new ability buyers had to immediately purchase runway clothes, the design house’s recent show set a new standard for luxury brands. Clearly, the industry is developing far beyond the basic online retail store.

    For the purpose of your site, I thought it was prudent that you chronicled your 2D live stream viewing experience first hand as opposed to attending the show. In doing so, you were able to personally assess one of fashion’s latest technologies and expertly vocalize what the average user encountered. Getting an exclusive invite to the real deal is not nearly as important as it once ways. Anyone is able to timely critique the fashions of the runway with these new mediums of outreach, and I think the biggest thing to take away from this is the affect it is having on the business. The leading publications are no longer the only ones able to make educated reviews. Blogger’s are able to form their own opinions and establish themselves as knowledgeable experts in their own right. They are seen as more legitimate then over before, which completely changes the editorial landscape. On another note, I was wondering if you could elaborate on whether Burberry was “filtering out comments that were unfavorable to their global event.” I tried to do some research on the subject, but was not able to find much. Also, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Dolce&Gabanna’s innovative digital marketing strategy it debuted for Milan Fashion Week. The co-designers’ team created an application for smartphones that allowed people around the world to view the show live over the weekend on their hand-held devices. And ultimately, how do you think the fashion business will further evolve to reflect all of these changes?

  11. Very interesting that 2 days after the event the “live stream” of comments were still coming in thick and fast with comments like “can’t wait for it to start” and “only 10 minutes to go”. Not very live in my opinion and more than disappointing that it was clearly edited. In the early days of the Web there was a mantra “the Internet views censorship as damage and routes around it” – Burberry would do well to take heed.

    Jake Cartwright from London, London, United Kingdom