Fabled jewellery brand Tiffany & Co. is about to celebrate its 185th birthday. As admirable a feat as that is, it’s left the brand with an oldie, fuddy-duddy, mumsy image that apparently the Ys and Zs are finding a real turn-off.
As a lot of legacy brands do, it’s desperately trying to reinvent itself – ditching its iconic turquoise box – to attract a younger buyer who, unfortunately, now have far more online alternatives than Tiffany & Co.
The brand – which was recently bought by French luxury fashion house LVMH – has just unveiled a new campaign featuring edgy models and the tagline “Not Your Mother’s Tiffany”. The campaign runs across Twitter and Instagram and via a street poster campaign (odd choice for such a high-end, luxury brand) around New York and Los Angeles.
The campaign’s reportedly the work of LVMH’s communications director, the 29-year-old Alexandre Arnault, who also happens to be the son of the company’s billionaire owner and third richest person in the world, Bernard Arnault.
However, the campaign’s gone down about as well as a failed engagement proposal using a Tiffany diamond ring!
For starters, the tagline was reportedly stolen from a 1980’s car commercial for US carmaker Oldsmobile. The tag at the time rang “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile” and played to a similar theme that Oldsmobile’s weren’t simply something your dad drove.
Problem with that was, the campaign, at the time, was such a flop, sales of Oldsmobiles actually halved (from 1,050,832 to 489,492) over the next decade.
The other problem with Tiffany’s attempts to grab younger buyers is that it’s offended mothers, who are actually the jeweller’s core customer base.
Pissed off mothers, with Tiffany wedding bands on their fingers, taking to social media to complain about the ad: “As a mother who has spent the last 15 months working from home and homeschooling my daughters at the same time I feel really offended by your campaign,” tweeted one.
Another penned: “Mothers all over the world have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic – I am not sure this is [the] right moment to diminish us (it obviously never is). If it wouldn’t hurt my husband I would take off my Tiffany’s wedding band and my Tiffany’s engagement ring right now.”
While another added: “As a mum and older woman you’re saying you don’t need me as a customer anymore?”
Advertising guru, author and legend Bob Hoffman lead the rage against the campaign, labelling it “the tiredest, most derivative and thoroughly clichéd campaign of the year” before really twisting the knife: “Or the entire history of mankind. Or womankind. Or whatever kind you prefer.”
Writing for industry media site Campaign, Hoffman railed: “If you’d asked a high school advertising class to come up with a campaign to ‘youthify’ the Tiffany brand, this is exactly the shit they’d come up with.
“Do these people actually believe that a combination of 20-years-out-of-date Gap/Calvin Klein skaggy alienation imagery, and 30-years-out-of-date Oldsmobile copy is ‘refreshing?’ In trying to youthify Tiffany, they are in danger of euthanising it,” Hoffman raged.
While other haters of the campaign took to LinkedIn to voice their anger.
“I’d be far more interested in a bold stand outlining what the Tiffany & Co. brand stands for rather than just standing ‘against’ a more dated version of themselves,” wrote one.
Another added: “Giving voice to your primary anxiety via advertising doesn’t strike me as a winning strategy.”
Joel Kaplan, executive creative director at MUH-TAY-ZIK / HOF-FER, telling US marketing site Morning Brew: “For a brand as iconic as Tiffany, I would have expected a more unique way to appeal to a Millennial and Gen Z buyer. Instead of standing for something, they took the more common approach of standing against something, their own history and tone. And to a younger buyer, being common is almost as bad as being ignored.”
But the campaign’s final insults definitely belong to Bob Hoffman. Take it away, Bob: “It is the knee-jerk ad strategy for every traditional brand that can’t find its footing in a new world and doesn’t have the imagination to say something different, or the talent to do something original.
“Do I hate this campaign? I can’t begin to tell you how much I hate it. It fails on every level. It is strategically vapid; it is creatively hackneyed; it is unimaginative; it is visually indistinguishable from a million other fashion campaigns; it is insulting to the brand’s core customers. Other than that, it’s fucking great!” Enough said…
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