Social Marketing analyst Jeremiah Owyang has posted an interesting tale of artist Nadia Plesner’s hijacking of Louis Vuitton’s luxury goods brand to help raise funds for Save Darfur’s “Divest for Darfur” campaign.
As I wrote on Jeremiah’s blog,
Luxury brands do not have the luxury of remaining silent. They are the expressiveness of the well-heeled, for whom verbalizing, I’m richer than you is a sign of a lack of refinement. So LV is *required* to publicly react in this case.
Their best option would be to sponsor a forum in which the global community can participate and engage with the local Darfur community and any and all who are engaged in the atrocities or can act to prevent it; a forum which (it is hoped) effects a change, but in which, at the least, participants feel as if they’re doing something. After all, a brand which symbolizes wealth *and* power is able to wield quite a bit of both itself.
The real dilemma for a brand which positions itself as a symbol of wealth and prestige, is how to present its position on non-lifestyle topics. To say you represent the constituency of wealth and influence, yet are unable or unwilling to exert either for social and political issues is preposterous. To choose to remain out of the “conversation” regarding these matters is to invoke the legend of Marie Antoinette, who when she was told the peasants of France had no bread (according to the legend), said, “Let them eat cake.” It indicates a shallowness of character, indifference to world affairs, impotence or fear of loss, none of which can be considered admirable traits and thus worthy of public expression by the upper crust. And to be directly hostile to efforts to assist the victims of genocide is to support the perpetrators of this outrage.
No, Louis Vuitton must demonstrate their ability to act on behalf of the victims and those who would assist them, or acknowledge that they are incapable of effecting any change and allow their brand to be repositioned as the symbol of a lack of influence, power, scruples and/or purpose.
I suppose it’s fitting that Paris Hilton has become the face of Louis Vuitton.