Tumi Holdings Inc. has reason to celebrate: Today marks the expected closing of its acquisition by Samsonite International S.A., as well as a new collaborative campaign with Heineken aimed at introducing the lifestyle brand to a new audience.
The collaboration with the international brewer, part of the #Heineken100 initiative, represents the first time in the program’s seventh year that it will feature just one exclusive brand partner. The program provides co-branded products to 100 of the world’s influential men. Past partners include designer brand Public School; leather goods brand Parabellum; high-end eyewear label Garrett Leight California Optical; fashion designer Mark McNairy; street gear retailer Kith, and men’s boutique store Union Los Angeles.
Quinn Kilbury, senior director for Heineken marketing, described Tumi as “one of the most globally known and well-traveled companies in the accessories space.” Of the collaboration, Kilbury said, “They bring the same approach to quality and craftsmanship that we put in our beer, and we’re excited to partner with them to help people open their world with this line of exclusives.”
Coltrane Curtis, founder of creative marketing agency Team Epiphany, said the program typically works with “smaller, niche, cool-guy brands. A natural evolution of the program was to eventually work with a bigger brand that has the same cultural dexterity and gravitas. We have that with Tumi, and they’ve made the best product to date.”
Because Heineken this time is working with just one vendor, it has allowed Tumi to bring out a “collection” instead of “piecemeal products for [inclusion in] a capsule” grouping, Curtis said. The collection includes the tote that is rolled out today, a backpack, a luggage roller that has a handle allowing the tote to slip onto, and a special Tumi PAX jacket that converts into a neck pillow. The items will feature a green stripe to represent Heineken.
Curtis also said Tumi’s aesthetic fits with the goals of the program. “People really throw the term luxury around. We look at luxury as a utility. It’s easy to make a product, but super difficult to make it functional and useable. Our goal is to make things the Heineken recipients use everyday, both effortlessly and efficiently. This is a guy who has everything. He doesn’t need a surplus of anything, but he does need something [that allows him] to travel more efficiently and [more] easily,” Curtis said.
Curtis said he monitors the influencers to see how they tout the brand through everyday use, whether at events or via social media. Curtis is also adamant about not using a pay-to-play influencer model, preferring instead to rely on having standout products that influencers will really use.
As the campaign brand for the next six months, Tumi is the third-party beneficiary of the ongoing dialogue between Heineken and its influencers, and that suits the brand just fine.
Michael Petry, Tumi’s global creative director, said, “The top influencers are from the world of art, culture and music. It represents a good cross section and for our brand, a good opportunity to get a unique audience.”
He added that the company is hoping to continue its dialogue with the influencers after the campaign is completed. “What happens when you get into our brand is that they become fans for life. There’s always been Tumi luggage, but we’re a full lifestyle company. In partnering with these kinds of influencers, there’s no better way to tell your brand story than to have someone carry your product and talking about your product,” Petry said.
Discussions began last November when the brand was putting together a collection for Public School, which was having a fashion show in Dubai. Team Epiphany was providing an assisting hand, having worked with the fashion brand before in the Heineken program. The Heineken program is part of Tumi’s 2016 marketing budget, and was completed before Samsonite agreed to acquire Tumi in a $1.8 billion transaction.
Petry declined comment about the strategy under Samsonite, saying only that it is “business as usual.”
About 40 percent of the product mix is luggage, with the balance in fashion bags. Those bags include unisex backpacks and cross-bodies for women, as well as fashion totes. “Women’s is our fastest-growing segment,” Petry said, adding that the brand is working on a new premium line of women’s bags.