In 2009, DHM were invited to pitch for something we’d never heard of, Vertu.
A luxury phone brand, and when I say luxury I mean luxury, some models were 70k.
Ironically, the brief was to “Take the bling out of the brand”.
I kid you not, the task was to make these solid gold phones, with diamonds stuck on them, appear less blingy?
We looked at their previous advertising, it had tried desperately to justify the price; It takes thousands of hours to make, uses tonnes of precious stones, 24 carat gold, it’s polished with baby Unicorn’s jizz, etc, etc.
True luxury brands don’t have to justify their existence.
They have swagger bordering arrogance, their vibe is “If you like our stuff great, if you don’t fuck off.”
We made a plan for Vertu:
a). Show the phone being used by people with gravitas.
b). Look supremely confident.
c). Show the phone being held.The phones were very tactile, they were weighty.
We’d heard that the store staff felt if they could get a phone in the hands of a potential buyer, they’d increased their chances of a sale.
a) Showing celebrities and a product is tough when the product is so small relatively.
If you stand David Beckham next to a car you’ll see all the details of the car and recognise it’s David Beckham. Put a phone in his hand and you’ll barely see the phone, that’s if you want to see David Beckham’s face too.
hard, the product often disappears, especially if it’s something like a phone, it’s just too small.
b) How do your ad stand out when it’s essentially a person and a product?
The most popular combination in ads.
I remembered a campaign I’d done for the Patek Phillipe back at Leagas Delaney.
It was based on close-up shots of famous people’s hands, essentially trying to solve a similar issue; how do we show the product clearly AND create a distinctive, own-able visual style.
We pitched our thinking: Vertu’s issue isn’t that people think your products are too blingy, it’s that they don’t think they’re blingy enough.
Stop protesting and man up, if some think you’re too blingy, that’s their problem. (They probably can’t afford one anyway.)
Apparently, we were the only agency not to offer a way to take the bling out of the brand.
Now, they look pretty straight forward, but it’s unusual for ads this simple not to be complicated by the process.
Sometimes well meaning and intelligent comments can kill a brand, particularly a luxury brand.
THIS IS HOW IT COULD HAVE GONE:They ran these ads all over the world.THIS IS HOW IT COULD HAVE GONE:“I LOVE IT. Just one thing, would it be possible to pick a shot where we could see Michelle’s face? We’ve paid all that money to use her after all.”“That’s better.
Although she looks a bit of a misery guts, were there any happier pictures from the shoot? Oh… and I wonder whether we should put ‘Michelle’ in front of ‘Yeoh’, just to be on the safe side?”
“Excellent! Excellent! Whoa!… Hang on, the phone’s a bit hard to see, perhaps we should put a pack shot at the bottom of the ad, elegantly done, of course. And could we just have a look at a colour picture of Michelle, people are used to seeing her in colour.”“Fantastic!…Love it! Oh… hang on, what if someone likes the look of that phone and wants to buy one? Shouldn’t we show them where they can be bought? Let the dog see the bone, so to speak?”“Great! A friend, who’s no expert by any means, made an interesting suggestion – wouldn’t it be more of an endorsement to swap the ampersand symbol for a love symbol? Sorry guys, but could we just try it?”“Ooh no, perhaps we just say it with words: ‘Michelle loves her Vertu’, it’s probably classier?”
“Great! A friend, who’s no expert by any means, made an interesting suggestion – wouldn’t it be more of an endorsement to swap the ampersand symbol for a love symbol? Sorry guys, but could we just try it?”