Using Video to Elevate Luxury Marketing Online

It takes a lot to make a brand site interesting these days, especially when you’re playing in the ultracompetitive luxury goods space. Securing an online audience is even more of a challenge when your brand doesn’t actually sell those products on your site.

Many luxury brands have struggled with how to represent themselves on their sites, in particular how much or how little to offer consumers. Some brands continue to maintain sites that are simply double-page magazine spreads in digital form that link to authorized online retailers. Others, like Tod’s, the Italian leather goods company, have chosen to use the Web to display not just their products but also the lifestyle they represent through innovative site features and technology.

Visiting the Tod’s brand site is like traveling to a foreign destination, where the culture is expressed through music, scenery, and especially fashion. All are represented on the site through a series of sections and features anchored by the image of the brand’s newest spokesperson, Gwyneth Paltrow.

Included on the site is “On the Spot,” a section devoted to the brand’s advertising. Site visitors can peruse its recent print advertising campaign and click on the Tod’s items featured therein. It’s a nod to the brand’s true comfort zone and that of most luxury brands: the print world offline, glossy and glamorous in all its painstakingly styled still-life glory.

It’s the reason you don’t see many luxury brands advertised in banner ads. Whether a valid concern or not, the notion is that banners generally can’t do the beauty of luxury goods justice. But Tod’s has found a way to translate the rich glamour that can be expressed in print to the Web. It has launched Tod’s TV, a site feature offering an original short film starring Paltrow and directed by Dennis Hopper.

The film channels the Italian neorealism genre to tell the story of Paltrow’s love affair with the brand’s Pashmy handbag. It has been the talk of many a fashion blog in recent months, as fans of the brand (and the star) analyze the work that actually debuted at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

The film has also received some criticism, but as a marketing piece it certainly packs a punch. In less than five minutes, any consumer can come away with a clear understanding of the image Tod’s endeavors to portray, and the audience the flick is intended to address is sure to enjoy the over-the-top, self-indulgent whimsy.

The beauty of developing a video such as this — beyond its ability to present your brand in an environment dripping with style and fantasy — is the countless ways in which it can then be used to promote your products beyond your site. This is of particular importance for luxury-goods manufacturers whose priority is sustaining their brand cache, as opposed to generating immediate sales.

The best way to do this online is through visually engaging rich media work that highlights a brand’s products in the context of the environment and lifestyle they’re meant to complement. Short films like these are a popular choice among luxury manufacturers in the automotive space (recall this year’s Audi R8 Godfather Super Bowl spot, but few marketers extend their efforts to media buys, despite the fact that they could significantly expand their reach and the life of their videos by doing so.

How you go about doing it is a matter of determining your ad unit preferences and what sites appropriate for your campaign have to offer. Standalone video assets can be edited down and repurposed as pre-, mid-, or post-roll ad units, video banners, or sponsored video content media buys wherein Internet users watch an intro video ad in exchange for uninterrupted video content. In the case of Tod’s, a teaser version of the film would drive consumers to the site to view the full version. Other brands might also upload their video advertising assets to a microsite developed and hosted by one of their online retailers.

As a luxury brand bridging the gap between the familiar world of print and the Web, Tod’s has hit the mark with its site and video feature that go way beyond the once-traditional brochure-style brand destination. Even if your own video work doesn’t involve two megastars or debut at Cannes, it will be worth the investment, particularly if you can elevate it through a successful media campaign.

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