The Strange Case of the Naked Man in “La Redoute” ad image and The Brilliant Case of 3Suisses Facebook counter-campaign.
It’s all happening in France. It is all exploding around end of 2011 and beginning of 2012. What a disgraceful way of closing 2011 for French fashion retailer La Redoute and what a hilarious and brilliant counter-campaign from its direct competitor 3Suisses.
An educational and inspiring story about competition and, sad enough, about failure in management, incredible when it comes from structured and organized contexts such as La Redoute, from PPR Group.
Here’s the story. Towards the end of 2011, Uk based fashion website and blog Stylist.co.uk, looking at one of the online visuals from La redoute’s website, discovers there’s a naked man (yes: A NAKED MAN) happily bathing on the background of this Kidswear visual (yes: KIDSWEAR AD VISUAL). Take a look at the image below:
The French fashion retailer quickly apologizes for the photo in which the naked man appears behind a group of children advertising beachwear. La Redoute is forced to try to control crowds of French people and consumers, commenting sarcastically or furiously against the failure on all Social Media, apologizing on Facebook and eliminating the photo.
Obviously in the meantime the image has gone wildly viral on the Internet: montages appeared on the internet showing the naked man in some iconic images, such as the Moon landing.
In one of the spoof images the face of the disgraced former International Monetary Fund chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was pasted onto the naked man.
A spokeswoman for La Redoute, quoted by the AFP news agency, said an internal inquiry had been launched to determine how the error had happened.
The error was compounded by the fact that La Redoute provided a magnifying glass so that people could examine the beachwear close-up.
Some tweeters remarked that the "bad buzz" surrounding the photo was actually useful publicity for La Redoute.
Now, the question is: “How can it possibly be that such scandalous photos do get to publication without being stopped in post-production?”. This is unacceptable. In my personal experience with dozens of shootings for fashion brands, with photographers of every kind, style, level and background, I have gone through dozens of checks with dozens of key levels of control, for every single image, in order to spot hair on an arm of a model or a wrinkle in a pant which would ruin the aesthetics of the pic and these guys at La Redoute, brand of the celebrated PPR Group, fails so heavily on such a delicate matter?
On the counterside, though, we cannot but admire and applause the quick reaction of La Redoute’s main mail-order competitor, 3Suisses, who immediately launched this brilliant Facebook Campaign
Translated from French its claim says: “It is clear that not everybody knows we sell bathing suits”.
Dancing to the tacky notes of Calle Ocho's "Pitbull", designer Alber Elbaz has top models Karen Elson and Raquel Zimmerman, together with the other Lanvin models of AW1112 advertising campaign, perform in an ironic, fun, artsy, viral fashion advertising. Directing them is Steven Meisel, one of the greatest living photographers of the fashion scene. Elbaz succeeds where most designers are showing (still) resistance: viral communication.
The gloomy days of economy (and fashion) we are living find some light here, and again the lightness and fun of a great product of advertising. And how great this is coming from a genius of "traditional" fashion photography and a brand that is a luxury brand, whereas most other luxury brands are still conveying the old, traditional
Yes, there is life out there on the Advertising planet. And it shows all its creativity, fantasy, at times unexpectedness and experimentation, even courage. But, poorly, there is no, or little, sign of Fashion brands when it comes to ranking the most creative and impactful outdoor ads. Maybe some Sportswear brand, easy to name, when it comes to guerrilla or viral marketing. But no fashion, Lifestyle, Apparel, Clothing brand at all.
Outdoor advertising still shows its impactness and power to communicate, and still represents a solid share of advertising spend. Billboards and similar, on high traffic and central spots, in key cities and locations, still stand for great advertising campaigns and brand messages.
I have attached some of the best outdoor ads from the last two semesters: a collage of billboards from various brands, most of which from the automotive or consumer goods industry, from electronics or telecommunications, and a few global sportswear brands, just to mention the one sportswear brand, it is obviously Nike.
What happened to Fashion brands? What happened to creativity, experimentation, innovation in communication and advertising with fashion brands? Is is simply that Fashion brands electively use other supports than outdoor, i.e. print, video, etc? Or is it that somehow global crisis hit hard on fantasy and braveness, on ability to strike impactful and take back the streets? Are we going flat, basic, boring, conservative?
Scrolling through the images I attached to this article, some might argue that the edgiest ones are rather guerrilla and viral street marketing cases, not properly outdoor meant in a traditional way. Fair enough. But not a valid counter-argument though: show me some great, cutting-edge, outstanding advertising, show me that there are brands that do stand out of the choir of monocord voices, showing their brand muscles (and brains...and hearts).
Because my theory is that somehow we got stuck in this whole crisis attitude: prudent, conservative, calm, rather than shocking, innovative, unexpected.
But what these brands (global brands, great brands) show, from their great outdoor campaigns, is that outdoor can be a great way to communicate your brand, and in the braid of voices arising from the chaotic streets of modern cities, there is only one way to be impactful: and is to Be Impactful.
Food for thought...
Yet another fashion blog