By  on January 31, 2005

Nothing describes the career of Giorgio Armani like continuity, control and moderation, and the same can be said of his approach to marketing over the years.

“My philosophy of advertising is really quite simple: Always be consistent, be true to your values, be elegant and positive with your imagery — and never forget that the product needs to be seen!” the designer averred.

Accordingly, Armani believes in controlling the advertising from within the company because outside creative directors “cannot be expected to truly understand the sensibility, atmosphere and vision that we are trying to convey.”

The company spends more than 100 million euros a year on marketing excluding fragrance, or about $133 million at current exchange. When including fragrance, that rises to more than 160 million euros, or more than $200 million.

Stefania Saviolo, co-director of an MBA fashion management program at Bocconi University in Milan, said Armani’s “communication is in line with his style — clear and simple — and there is always a connection between his communication, his products and his points of sale.”

Lamberto Cantoni, professor of history of contemporary fashion and communication at Polimoda, the international fashion, design and marketing institute in Florence, said Armani has “an exceptional sensitivity for tiny variations. The pleasure of looking at the photos is almost chosen by the spectator rather than forced upon by the designer. He is a master at setting the distance between the images and the spectator.”

Controlled though he may be, Armani readily takes chances and sets off in new directions when he thinks the times call for it. After all, he is the only designer who used two owls as models (for his Emporio Armani fall 2003 eyewear collection).

Still, in an era when shocking or provocative images are often used — some might say overused — in fashion advertising, Armani has stayed true to his own philosophy.

“The idea of provoking controversy through advertising makes no sense to me,” said the designer. “If that is so necessary, there must be a deficiency elsewhere. Given that advertising is somewhat intrusive, whether it is in a magazine, on television or outdoors, I feel strongly that it should be uplifiting and provide a positive experience. It should enhance rather than detract.”

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