CAVALLI TWEETS: Roberto Cavalli is not a veteran of social media, but since he embraced the online world a few months ago, the designer has generated a lot of buzz. While the blog, filled with Cavalli’s musings about his glamorous life around the world, is clearly reviewed by a careful group of censors — presumably the company’s communication and pr office — Twitter offers a genuine taste of Cavalli’s direct manner and flamboyant temper.

Using a massive old Nokia Communicator, launched by the Finnish company about 12 years ago, the Florentine designer has no filter when it comes to tweeting about his private life.

“What do you think about a swedish girlfriend….maybe …too cold form my latin love caracter??,” Cavalli tweeted on April 17, revealing his original use of the English language.

The same outspokenness is evident in his comments on the fashion industry. The designer must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed on April 21, when he sent about ten messages criticizing the dynamics of the fashion system and disparaging both American and French fashion.

“I canot speak with you anymore. Many silly fashion site … Wont to close my mouth. I dont want to be part of this mafia fashion system !,” he wrote in the morning. “where is the franch fashion ? No one disigner is franch…….in the franch brands, English…American….. italian …, ” he added at lunch time. And again, “THE ONLY AMERICAN DESIGNER THAT I LIKE IS MARC JACOBS…! but …just in the Marc Jacobs show !!! Louis Vuitton show is for old ladys.”

In March, Cavalli set a trap for Internet users by posting a fake tweet saying Jennifer Lopez had asked him to design her wedding dress.

Commenting on his joke, in an interview with an Italian gossip magazine the designer said: “The fact is that I had 17,000 followers, then other users had thousands and thousands of followers, and so I thought: ‘How can I increase my audience? I should write some foolish things.’”

Considering that Cavalli currently counts more than 20,000 followers, his strategy appears to be working.

“Each personality has to find its way to be different, and Roberto Cavalli’s approach is differentiated by non-alignment, and this can help the brand,” said Armando Branchini, executive director of the Fondazione Alatagamma. “As Michael Porter pointed out, companies have two options. They can be cost leaders or they have to focus on differentiation and this is the strategy that Cavalli embraced with his behavior.”

Isabelle Harvie-Watt, chief executive and country manager for Havas Media Italy, also emphasized that Cavalli’s behavior brought a lot of attention to the brand, but she highlighted the pitfalls inherent in such strategies.

“Roberto Cavalli likes to provoke and has gotten a lot of attention for his recent tweets. His tweets however reflect the core of his brand. Twitter has become a powerful tool to converse and reveal who you are as a brand, showing customers what you care about and what you think is important to share with them — whether that’s information or a promotion or just grabbing attention,” she said. “But long-term, the most successful twitter accounts are the opinion leaders who have valid things to say and that engage customers to that area we can call TRUST because through their tweets and actions prove to be consistent and reliable. Tweets that garner BIG attention for their shock value usually enjoy a short lived celebrity status but end just there.”

Paola Brandi, founder of Paris-based Brand Strategies and Content Development agency INKParis, shared a similar outlook, and panned the designer’s communication skills.

“Roberto Cavalli’s colorful use of Twitter is almost a catalogue of how a fashion brand or its public persona should not communicate online. From his personal tirade against Anna Wintour to his revelations about his client JLo’s personal and confidential information (real or alleged), all points to a lack of understanding of the difference between interaction with customers and too much information,” she said. “As Lindsay Lohan and Kanye West taught us, rants are never well received on Twitter and control remains the golden rule of good brand communication, even more so in today’s media context.”

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