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The controversial "Not Your Mother's Tiffany" campaign aims to sell aspiration, not stuffy jewellery

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Image: Tiffany & Co. campaign

There are no ladies clad in gowns, adorned in haute jewellery, featured in the current – and controversial – Tiffany & Co campaign. Models styled in double denim (less downtown Sex and the City and more Lower East Side grunge) are accessorised with bold linked chains, chunky silver cuffs and pearls. So far so ordinary. Except the byline, Not Your Mother’s Tiffany, has ruffled some feathers and evoked anger from loyal, and presumably older, customers.

It is a clever move. People are talking about Tiffany in a way the brand hasn’t evoked opinions one way or another for some time. Of course when LVMH acquired majority ownership last year there wasn’t going to be a long lead to refreshing the heritage jeweller. Edgy camera work and images that were swiftly digitally circulated despite the campaign’s billboards being sparsely placed, got tongues wagging.

Out with the old

The real shift, less seismic and more intentional, began in January when a new management team led by CEO Anthony Ledru took over the reins, replacing the existing senior team. A new creative director was installed, Ruba Abu-Nimah, who interestingly does not have a jewellery background, but comes from beauty. And not even haute beauty, like Chanel or Dior, but from the all-American house of Revlon. Alexandre Arnault, the 29 year-old son of LVMH president and CEO, was appointed executive vice president. Arnault previously helped turn around Rimowa from a stuffy German suitcase manufacturer to fashion’s go-to for travel accessories.

Selling aspiration

Tiffany’s iconic turquoise packaging (it is called 1837 blue) and cherished heritage make it an instantly recognisable brand, but being deemed classic and in need of updating is the polar opposite of being relevant and desirable. LVMH knows better than anyone what it takes to sell aspiration.

“We try to make the founders turn over in their graves, but in the best way,” Louis Vuitton’s CEO Michael Burke recently explained to the New York Times. “Some of our biggest brands have a tendency not to see it’s in their best interests to stay plugged into the contemporary world.”

According to Marketing Week the new management team has spent the past six months studiously building a new brand strategy that will aim to propel Tiffany back to the top of the luxury ladder. Just as LVMH did for Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Fendi and Tag Heuer to name but a few.

They may already be halfway there.

Tiffany & Co.