Tiffany Takes The Bull By The Horns To Slaughter Sacred Cows
Iconoclasm And Fracture In Brand Revitalisation
‘Not your mother’s Tiffany’, says the posters in Los Angeles in mid 2021. The slaughtering of the sacred cows is LVMH’s iconoclastic brand offering on the fashion altar.
Its explicit write-off of older Tiffany clients drew cries for blood on Instagram posts such as: “Is everyone better than me because I gave birth? Or is it just all old women are not worth it and embarrassing?”. The “disgusting-disrespectful -horrible-vulgar” advertising raised a remonstrance for its ageist tone.
Why The Sudden Marketing Turn?
The stars in the luxury space were realigned when LVMH, the French luxury conglomerate, bought Tiffany for $16.2bn (£11.7bn) in November 2019. It marked one of the biggest deals in the jewellery market headed by Bernard Arnault. It is his 29-year old son and executive vice-president, Alexandre Arnault we should thank for shoving dusty customers off the cliff.
Tiffany’s new Gen Z target is reflected in advertisements of arrogant, “cool”, sloppily dressed, dishevelled models in dull jeans and untidy piles of jewellery.
Yellow, The New Blue
The 185-year old Tiffany & Co. is a quintessential emblem of silver and expensive jewellery synonymous with love. Yet, the brand refresh has abandoned its true love: the robin’s egg blue which embody reverence and made recognisable by rich and famous stars… who are long dead. The new management’s belief is that the rich young do not care for such heritage.
May 2021 saw a seismic shaking in the 1837 blue being replaced by a flamboyant lemon yellow in flagship stores. When Tiffany unveiled its yellow packaging on Instagram, the internet went into a meltdown.
There is a modern confidence: It is now the brand of a younger generation.
Why Kill The Golden Goose?
There are voices that are not entirely supportive of the drastic changes. Erich Joachimstahler, CEO of Vivaldi Group, said Tiffany should exercise caution in taking extremes as “brands are not built through shock treatment.”
Sally Maier Yip from 11K Consulting points out that “It’s not a wise decision to dilute that iconic heritage image of Tiffany, as this is what Tiffany is known for, and that is why people are buying it”. A complete transformation of the logo colour would be highly risky for the brand.
More importantly, there is nothing wrong with trying to reinvent a brand, but it could have been better approached without disparaging loyal, older customers.
Might The Rebranding Work?
Despite stepping out of its original brand DNA, the new Tiffany is a case in point that may jump start a new branding era.
Luxury labels could possibly succeed in steering towards an entirely new direction if the brand:
1. Is Big. Famous. Iconic.
2. Drives a power war chest to birth great designs and steer trends.
3. Harnesses top celebrities (as in this case, Beyoncé and Jay-Z) in social media as an equaliser of power.
4. Is able to invade deep pockets through far reaching distribution channels.
5. Possesses a complete disgust to price promotion.
In all this, LVMH seem to possess the confidence to seduce the new Gen Zers demographic to shop extravagantly at Tiffany … with mother’s money, of course. In the brand transition, Tiffany has to quickly propel the purchasing power of Gen Zers to replenish the value of the golden eggs destroyed from annihilating mother goose.
Under the conglomerate’s acquisition, iconic brands such as Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer, Loewe, Hublot and Fendi did not escape the winds of change. So this is the hour for Tiffany to brave through the baptism of fire and hopefully, emerge stronger.