LONDON, United Kingdom — In the fashion and luxury industries, selling a lifestyle that taps into the dreams and aspirations of consumers can be as significant a motivation to purchase a product as its innovation or quality. As a result, marketing has long been a fundamental cornerstone of any fashion or luxury business. However, where once marketing focused on print media and unilateral broadcasts from a brand to the public, today it seeks to create a dialogue between brand and consumer.
Ed Filipowski, co-chairman, KCD tells BoF: “When the position of [chief marketing officers] became important inside the luxury houses — there was a point when that happened, I would say about six to eight years ago… our direct reports, many of them became CMOs. Their thinking went fuller and wider and 360 in a different way. And we had to adapt to meet their needs and that shifted the thinking.”
Daniel Marks, chief creative officer of The Communications Store goes further, telling BoF at the end of last year: “The notion of calling what we do PR is completely outdated. The only thing that hasn’t changed about this industry is that it’s about relationships and about trust.”
Indeed, few facets of the fashion eco-system have metamorphosed as much as PR and Marketing. “Over the years, the line between PR and marketing has blurred tremendously. Twenty years ago, all you needed was a fashion show image and a lookbook of the designer’s show. Today, media and content creation have become so important, and a lot of things have become paid content. If you want to get into a career in PR, you need to have a clear understanding of that. You have to be aware of what marketing is and how it works, because you have to be able to advise your client on how they can reach a certain audience, and it’s no longer just through print and images,” explains Pierre Rougier of PR Consulting, who worked with Hermès, Yohji Yamamoto and Margiela before launching his highly regarded agency.
“Today, the conversation isn’t just dictated by the traditional sense of PR, [where] we would craft a narrative and just push out that narrative to the media which delivers it to the consumer and there it would be,” says Sydney Reising, the upstart New York PR, whose career began at age 18 and has since worked with brands like Supreme, Hood By Air (where she convinced A$AP Rocky to close their show back in 2015) and RVCA, bridging the gap between the worlds of high fashion and street culture. “Now that narrative is developed by the community, so it’s that dialogue that’s fundamental — that’s where your communication strategy has to lie.”
PR and marketing functions have also been massively disrupted by access to data. “Marketing has become mainly CRM and consumer acquisition; yes, social media and, yes, data analysis. One of the big questions that we have to answer very often is: how do we fit into this data, consumer acquisition, CRM strategy that all brands have to have now? It's shifted the position of PR,” says Rougier. However, despite the importance of data insights in guiding campaigns, creativity, authenticity and sheer entertainment value remain paramount.
“There’s no question that access to data is phenomenally important to use. We go armed into campaigns with a greater knowledge than we ever did before. You can run amazing campaigns on Facebook… [but] people are only coming to find you on social media if you are exciting to find in the first place. Then those platforms and all of that data gives you a chance to amplify that message,” says Marks.
Indeed, although digital disruption has created distinct executional challenges, due to the increased speed necessitated by digital channels and the voracious consumption of brand content by consumers, it has also created opportunity in the sector too. "Everybody needs online exposure, everybody needs everything now and that’s the reality and that's why it has become so much more demanding for businesses to perform very well, but also for the people who are involved in creating their image. You really need as many resources as you can, and an exchange of ideas and knowledge,” says Karla Otto, founder of her internationally respected eponymous global agency.
Below are ten of the most exciting marketing and PR opportunities now live on BoF Careers, to see all marketing PR roles currently available, click here.
Karla Otto — Performance Marketing Executive / Manager, Digital Services — London, United Kingdom