Usually fashion brands make for horribly irrelevant branding examples. After all, what's interesting about selling things that everyone already wants, using expensively shot photos of gorgeous people?
Nothing, usually. But recently, Louis Vuitton has gotten back to their roots as purveyors of luxury travel goods, and established what is proving to be an excellent creative platform focused on Journeys, for the luggage part of their business.
The Wall Street Journal just covered the latest LV campaign focused on journeys, featuring astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride and Jim Lovell. The campaign (obviously) features an amazingly beautiful, Annie Leibovitz-shot photograph of the three space travelers. But on the website, there's a video where you actually get to hear them discuss how they felt about traveling into space. Not so innovative if you were watching the Discovery Channel, but for a category that relies on beautiful people to create desire for inanimate objects, it feels different.
Other journeys featured on their site include a trip through Scotland with Sean Connery, San Francisco with Francis Ford Coppola, and Marrakech with Sofia Coppola (whose voice is unfortunately very grating).
In an industry where the biggest "ad campaign" news is usually which model they're going to use, Louis Vuitton is using the very foundation of their brand to tell stories that are actually interesting. The history of Louis Vuitton, which is covered in the book "Deluxe - How Luxury Lost it's Luster", begins with a journey. Louis Vuitton himself traveled 292 miles from his birthplace near the French Alps to Paris - which took him two years. In Paris, he became an apprentice to a master trunk maker, and eventually started his own business, creating luggage for royalty, explorers, and all sorts of people going to faraway lands.
So what do this Journey platform say about the brand? Well, it says that they know who they are. Beyond all the Marc Jacobs designs, and Stephen Sprouse homages, and the college girls with tiny pouchettes over their shoulders (you know who you are/were), they're saying that at their core, they are a company that appreciates the magnitude of the journeys we take in life. They understand that the things you take with you on your journeys - the bag you pack, your passport case, your luggage tags - are all part of your travel experience, and that experience should be special. And they're taking this understanding beyond ads - they've created city guides, and chosen partnerships that make sense, like creating bespoke luggage for Wes Anderson's movie The Darjeeling Limited.
Arguably, they can definitely do more, and better things with this concept. (Admittedly, the videos take forever to load, but are beautiful and ultimately do their job).
I guess what strikes me the most about their use of Journeys is that instead of telling you to buy a bag, they're telling you to take a trip. And to bring that feeling of wanderlust - the best setting for their products - to the foreground, they've chosen to create features and content that actually do make you want to buy a logoed & mongrammed suitcase, pack it, and take the next steamship (or spaceship) out of here.