La Légende de Shalimar for Guerlain: codes of luxury marketing

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I heard someone say that ‘in India, cars don’t transport people; they transport egos’. It could be true of car marketing everywhere, especially among super premium brands. In luxury marketing too, there could be a truism: ‘luxury brands don’t just sell an experience, they sell a fantasy’.

In the luxury business,  a single brand often spans across many categories – watches, perfumes, fashion wear and accessories. It is critical to imbue the brand with a certain mystique, desirability and an air of super exclusivity. The advertising for such brands (be it print, television or digital) reflect this – they not only create intrigue, they took it to an esoteric level. You can see it in action in campaigns for Louis Vitton, Cartier and Omega. The consumers for such brands may be a small niche but the audience is wide for whom the aspiration factor kicks in. Such campaigns are wildly popular, as with the Cartier Winter Tale.

A new ad for Guerlain, the fragrance, skin care and luxury makeup brand is doing the rounds of ad blogs and social media. It is beautifully shot and follows all the codes of luxury marketing to the hilt: moody, surreal, arty farty but breathtakingly beautiful.

Director: Bruno Aveillan

[Best watched on HD]

The ad features the Russian model Natalia Vodianova and is shot in Jaipur.

Apparently the love between the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal in the 17th century inspired Jacques Guerlain to create Shalimar (a reference to the gardens around Mumtaz’s remote home) back in 1925. No wonder the story, if you can call it that, involves the rising of Taj Mahal from under a lake.

While some of us find it amusing to witness the history books being re-written as it where, such films create such a powerful aura around the brand and keep the desirability factor going. Pity it is a world of make believe, a fantasy world. But such is the power of advertising.

I think the contrast between the fantasy world of luxury marketing and real life is best captured in these pictures.

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