Very interesting question. It is
also insightful to note that you selected iconic brands. Notice what is common
to all the three brands you selected? They have each been around for at least
Is 102 years old
- December 1, 1914
The 175-Year Old French Fashion Empire
3.Rolex founded in 1905, 112 years old
history of Rolex is inextricably linked to the visionary
spirit of Hans Wilsdorf, its founder
For any brand to be successfully
& sustainable over time, in particular with regards to your question
regarding luxury brands vs new startups, you need these 4 pillars to
communicate the value of your brand or product with your audience-
Proceed with purpose
Differentiate your company from others
Make it personal
Let’s take a look at each of the
above 4 pillars with regards to each of the three brands you referenced. Each
brand or product have distinct purpose or positioning, i.e. each is elevating
your lifestyle. When you wear a Rolex or Hermes or drive a Maserati, what you
are saying to the world is “I have arrived” or “my family can afford this
The brands are able to distinguish
themselves from commoditized products by producing creating a sense of
They are memorable of course
And finally, they make it personal
It is not that they do not
advertise. The fact is they do advertise in media/environments where their
potential customers and fans are likely to aggregate. They sponsor events where
those fans will attend. Golf tournaments, horse races, car shows, etc. These
the events where the rich and famous aggregate.
Then question is how do they do
There are subtle attributes to
reaching these audience. The brands you mentioned have the following attributes
They have carefully built trust with their customers
over the 100+years of doing business.
People want to trust in brands that will be around for
a long time and because of that, new customers to the brand have
confidence that the brand is likely to be around for another 100+ years.
So there is a built in confidence to adopt the brand
It is generational. Kids want to adopt the same brands
as their parents. If you wear a Rolex, chances are that your succeeding
generations will also want to wear Rolex because they have confidence and
trust in your choice of brands.
At a certain level, these brands or products become an
investment. Classic cars have proven that over the years. Hermes now have
bags that increase in value over the years.
Your question was- advertising luxury brands vs new startups. The
answer is that new startups and young brands do not yet have the trust,
longevity, generational engagement, and the confidence necessary. It is not
that they will not get there. They may, given time and adoption. So new and
startup brands have to advertise where they “fit in”. Where their audience it
likely to be and specially given their budget.
Yes, the have just not in mainstream channels because they target a particular kind of customer. I’ve seen ads in Cigar Afficionado. The legendary ad man David Ogilvy (on whom the main character in Mad Men is based) wrote on of the first ads for Rolls Royce! This is from March 1959 (the image is posted here courtesy of Bradley Gauthier: )
They advertise, just not in places that you see! And it took at least a few decades to attain the brand value they have. What they do cannot work for startups. It is like the cool kid in school who can just 'be'. He doesn't need to work to attract friends (customers). If you are a nobody, initially at least, you can't just 'be'. You need to actively do things to gain friends.