After weeks of teasers and controversy, Beyoncé’s and Jay-Z’s ad for high-end jeweller Tiffany & Co. has finally arrived.
The 90-second spot is called “About Love” (an apparent ode to the couple’s 13-year marriage) and sees Beyoncé at a piano reprising the classic Moon River from the 1961 Audrey Hepburn film Breakfast At Tiffany’s.
In an Instagram post, the jeweller – which is owned by French fashion house LVMH – said of the spot: “About Love tells a love story of longing, reunion and a bond that transcends space and time.”
The glamour couple are reportedly worth a cool $US1.35 billion ($A1.83 billion), so it’s not clear how much Tiffany bosses had to spring to get the duo – who have been typically reluctant to endorse products in the past – on board for the ad.
The agency behind the work has not been disclosed; however, it was directed by Ghanaian-Dutchman Emmanuel Adjei who has worked with Beyoncé previously on her music videos and album artwork.
Prepare to get all warm and gooey with the sweetly saccharine spot below:
And for fans of the couple, there’s even a behind-the-scenes trailer for the ad that has the power couple hamming it up to the camera.
Not that the campaign’s been without its share of controversy.
As reported on B&T, earlier teasers saw Beyoncé wearing a Tiffany jewel worth a staggering $42 million that also features prominently in the TVC.
It was soon pointed out that the rare yellow diamond and been mined by black slaves in South Africa way back in 1877, leading experts to call it a “blood diamond” or a gem mined in a warzone to finance violence or illegal activity.
Following social media backlash, the 40-year-old Beyoncé issued a statement that said she was “disappointed and angry that she wasn’t made aware of questions about its history”.
The pre-publicity to today’s ad launch also featured a rare and unseen painting by famous New York graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. The 1982 painting is called Equals Pi and had been in a private collector’s hands up until it was recently purchased by LVMH for an undisclosed sum.
Strangely the Paris-based high-end fashion conglomerate somehow linked the turquoise blue in the painting to Tiffany’s famous blue it uses in its packaging and marketing.
Commenting on the image, LVMH’s communications director, the 29-year-old Alexandre Arnault (son of billionaire owner Bernard), drew a rather nebulous link between Basquait (who died of a drug overdose in 1988 at the age of 27) and the Tiffany brand.
“We know he loved New York, and that he loved luxury and he loved jewellery,” Arnault said. “My guess is that the painting is not by chance. The colour is so specific that it has to be some kind of homage.”
This in turn infuriated people who knew Basquait who insisted the artist would’ve hated to see his work so shamelessly commercialised.
Alexis Adler, who lived with Basquiat in the late seventies, told The Daily Beast, “I’d seen the ad a couple days ago and I was horrified.
“The commercialisation and commodification of Jean and his art at this point – it’s really not what Jean was about,” she said.
Adler said that the anti-capitalist artist would have wanted his art to be placed in museums so that it was accessible to everyone.
“Unfortunately, the museums came to Jean’s art late, so most of his art is in private hands and people don’t get to see that art except for the shows. Why show it as a prop to an ad?” she said.
Stephen Torton, who worked as Basquiat’s assistant, added that he doubted Tiffany would have even let the Black artist into one of its stores when he was alive.
“They wouldn’t have let Jean-Michel into a Tiffany’s if he wanted to use the bathroom, or, if he went to buy an engagement ring and pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket. We couldn’t even get a cab,” he told The Daily Beast.
Torton – who said he mixed the paint for the artwork – insisted that Basquiat did not intend the colour in the piece to resemble Tiffany’s signature blue, as LVMH has suggested.
He posted on Instagram: “The idea that this blue background, which I mixed and applied was in any way related to Tiffany Blue, is so absurd that at first I chose not to comment.
“But this very perverse appropriation of the artist’s inspiration is just too much.”
Fans of the artist also questioned why such a rare piece had suddenly resurfaced in an ad campaign.
“They been hiding a Basquiat for decades just to use it for a Tiffany’s ad?” one asked. Another commented: “Jay-Z cosplaying [pretending to be] as Basquiat is hilarious to me.” Another added: “He wanna be Basquiat so bad.”
“Basquiat wasn’t the type of person or artist to approve of his pieces being used in an ad from multiple billionaires (uncontextualized, at that),” scoffed another detractor on Twitter. “His art was all about pain and beauty in low places, so, it comes across as a tone deaf and flippant flex on his legacy.”
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