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Vuitton Tinkers With Old Toys

PARIS -- After years of stately, sometimes predictable product shots, Louis Vuitton is toying with some new ideas...literally.<BR><BR>The company's latest international campaign, which kicks off in France on Feb. 22, features images of tin toys from...

PARIS — After years of stately, sometimes predictable product shots, Louis Vuitton is toying with some new ideas…literally.

The company’s latest international campaign, which kicks off in France on Feb. 22, features images of tin toys from the first half of the century — motorcycles, model cars, delivery vans and ostrich carts — all carrying miniature Vuitton luggage.

Shot by Vuitton’s long-standing photographer Jean Lariviere, the ads carry the tag-line: “Louis Vuitton luggage: always the unexpected, since 1854.” Vuitton’s ad agency remains RSCG, based in Paris.

Vuitton expects to spend half its entire advertising and promotion budget on the campaign. As the luggage specialist traditionally devotes 4 percent of consolidated sales to advertising and promotion, its ad budget for 1993 was in the neighborhood of $14 million. Since Vuitton posted “significant” increases in sales in 1993, according to company officials, its ad spending will be even more this year.

“Ads for bags are often the same: a photo of the product in a nice location. We wanted to do something different,” explained Yves Carcelle, president of Louis Vuitton Malletier. Last year, in fact, for the U.S. market, Vuitton tried an eight-page booklet that explained the roots of Vuitton. “It was only a one-shot project, and we think it served its purpose,” said Jean-Marc Loubier, Vuitton’s marketing and communications director.

The brainchild, in large part, of Loubier, the new ads will completely replace Vuitton’s existing campaign, which features shots of its products in exotic locations.

The toys, which hail from several countries, were collected over the last nine months, and Vuitton plans to gradually introduce more of them as the campaign develops. “The aim is to create something special, rare, refreshing, but also very joyful,” said Loubier.

Vuitton is owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and accounts for the vast majority of the French luxury goods conglomerate’s luggage sales, which reached $797 million (U.S.) in 1992.