A quick look at the comments on any of our celebrity posts make at least one thing clear: you guys are pretty savvy to the not-so-transparent ways that brands try to market things to you via their famous friends. And while no celebrity gets everything for free (seriously, we see most of them shopping all the time), the art of the celebrity placement, as it’s called, is alive and well. What we want to know, though, is if the tactic affects your shopping habits.
I’ve been thinking about this topic ever since Fashionista ran a piece on the tactic’s evolving use a couple of weeks ago, but the fact that the Louis Vuitton Soft Lockit keeps popping up on the arms of A-List celebrities is what really started my own examination of how these tacit celebrity endorsements affect my perceptions. Since the bag first turned up on Karlie Kloss at the tail end of April, we’ve published three other posts on celebrities carrying the bag, plus an introduction to the bag itself. Yesterday, I opened up our photo agency’s archive to find Naomi Watts ready to join their ranks.
It’s impossible to say whether that success rate is because of an especially aggressive campaign to get the bag onto notable arms or just because Louis Vuitton is especially effective at flexing its considerably influential muscles among its clientele, but either way, the company generated a lot more publicity by giving out roughly $20,000 worth of bags than it would have by using the same amount of money for additional ad placements. (In the world of luxury advertising, 20 grand doesn’t buy you a whole lot.)
Although brand’s can’t track what kind of return on investment these placements have, reaction to the bag in our comments sections has been overwhelmingly positive, which is particularly notable when you consider how controversial Vuitton’s wares have become among bag lovers. That could be because the bag itself is beautiful (which it is), but if you’re like me, it might also be because seeing a bag in context on someone graceful and stylish is more powerful than just seeing it, period.
I’m pretty good at visualizing how bags will look in real life; after all, I’ve been at this for a few years, and I’m familiar with the leathers, hardware and finishing that most brands use. Still, every now and then, I’ll come across just the right person wearing just the right thing and carrying a bag that I thought I hated, and I can almost feel something click over inside my head, like a little kid who’s just found exactly the piece of a puzzle that she was looking for. And in that moment, it doesn’t matter whether or not the star chose the bag herself or was given it by a brand who hoped it might change my opinion. All that matters is that small epiphany.
That same moment has never happened for me when looking at an advertisement; my feelings are the same when looking at those as when I’m looking at a stock or runway photo. Something about seeing the bag out in the wild, though, on a real human who is going to the airport or the grocery store – sometimes that works, even if I know all about the machinations and PR maneuvers that went into setting it up. I’m not too proud to acknowledge it.
Now we want to hear from you – has seeing a handbag on a celebrity ever changed your feelings about it?