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PARIS — If Paris is indeed burning as a fashion capital, designers here can hardly beat a retreat.

That seems to be the logic with advertising this fall. Angling to gain market share at a shaky time for luxury, most houses surveyed said they would maintain, or slightly increase their campaign budgets this season. This contrasts with deep cuts at some Italian houses and suggests French firms are perhaps more optimistic about a second-half turnaround. On average, French companies spend anywhere from $500,000 a season on ad campaigns at the smaller houses up to $20 million at such mega-brands as Louis Vuitton.

This story first appeared in the July 30, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“Our budget for the season is bigger,” said Paul-Gerard Pasols, the new director of communication at Louis Vuitton, whose Hitchcock-esque campaign starring model Eva Herzigova breaks in a large number of September magazines. He declined to pinpoint the increase.

Pasols acknowledged that most of the group’s brands pared back placements in the first half of 2002 in the wake of Sept. 11 and the ensuing economic slowdown, but many are back in growth mode. Vuitton, for example, plans to open seven new boutiques before the end of the year and introduce its first wristwatch, which gets its own spot. The one-page image, shot by campaign photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, shows Herzigova smooching the signature timepiece on a man’s wrist.

Emanuel Ungaro is also charging ahead, encouraged by 30 percent sales increases in its own stores and an enthusiastic reception to the fall collection designed by artistic director Giambattista Valli. The ads, shot by Karen Collins in Marrakech and evoking a young Talitha Getty, will appear in magazines in France and Italy, but be concentrated in American publications, a company spokeswoman said. The overall spend may be down, however, since part of the advertising budget will be directed towards a new diffusion line, Ungaro Fuchsia, debuting at retail next year, she noted.

Amelie Rouyer, advertising director at Givenchy, said now is not the time to be cautious. “We are in relaunch mode,” she said, referring to the house’s new direction under designer Julien Macdonald. “We don’t think it’s time to be careful. The fall-winter campaign, for instance, is much sexier than spring-summer. We want to go forward.” She said Givenchy’s budget was on par with last year.

Chanel and Chloé said they would also maintain their advertising presence this season.

At Céline, Lucien Goddet, advertising director, said the house was not cutting its budget. “At present, we believe going forward is the best strategy,” he said. “We won’t be in every magazine, but it’s important to keep a presence and be consistent with the brand image.”

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