None other than Fabien Baron, a sought after creative director, photographer, video director and former editorial director of Interview magazine who has also held creative director titles at Vogue Paris, Vogue Italia and Harper’s Bazaar, is thought to be working with the Facebook-owned platform on an upcoming project, sources tell WWD. Talks are said to be well under way, beginning close to a year ago, and the project is thought to be aimed at showing Instagram as a worthy and dependable home for luxury advertisers and fashion brands, many of which are still spending upward of $100,000 per page in print magazines.
A spokesman for Baron declined to comment, as did a spokeswoman for Instagram.
Baron, with his decades of editorial work within fashion and with celebrities, was able to bring in plenty of talent to Interview magazine (which went awry when that publication skirted more than $3 million in debts to contributors and staffers, including Baron, through an apparently orchestrated bankruptcy process), and is also thought to be doing something similar with the Instagram project. While it’s not clear what other photographers are part of the endeavor or are being courted, name a fashion photographer and Baron has very likely worked with them at some point. And he’s worked extensively with the likes of David Sims, Steven Klein, Mario Sorrenti and Mikael Jansson, among many others.
While these are only a few examples, all are among the rarefied pool of industry talent who scarcely work outside of the print realm. This type of photographer would bring a lot of clout to Instagram as a platform for luxury players who are still very concerned about not only the quality of digital content and ads, but where it turns up when in the hands of an online platform. The concern over lack of brand control has been such that a number of brands even put off e-commerce as long they could. Chanel and Celine both only started selling online last year, even though both, along with just about everyone else in the industry, uses Instagram to promote and engage with fans.
Even for those that have more fully embraced the digital wave and gone for full online ad campaigns, like Gucci and Dior, fashion magazines are still seen as the prestige — and safest — media arena for placements and to get apparel and other products into thoughtful editorial spreads. In his roughly 30-year career, Baron has worked on various campaigns for Gucci and Dior, as well as Calvin Klein, Margiela, Fendi, Prada, and the list goes on. Suffice to say the guy has connections and brands and talent seem to like working with him.
Instagram is aware of what luxury advertisers are looking for and has been pursuing the space actively for at least four years, releasing reports on the segment, hiring sales and creative leads and even hosting panels and informational events. Over the last year, it’s launched a shopping feature in its main feed and in stories launched IGTV, a long-form video channel and one that Baron seems to have just started using.
Instagram’s push into luxury comes as traditional advertising, which still makes up a majority of revenue for major magazine publishers like Condé Nast and Hearst, continues to shrink. A new report from eMarketer projects that this year, digital ad spending in the U.S. will outstrip traditional, growing to over $129 billion, or more than 54 percent of the total. Facebook, which owns Instagram, is expected to account for 22.1 percent of that spend, equal to about $29 billion of the total.
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