Armani Exchange has never shied away from provocative anything, not even 15 years ago when it first launched its website and soon after became one of the first retailers to make the move into e-commerce. From both an innovation standpoint and a content one — as anyone who’s seen any of A|X’s very skin-driven ad campaigns can attest — this is a brand that doesn’t just push the fashion industry’s standard, but year after year, its own standard as well.
While speaking today at our “Brands as Media Companies” clinic, former CMO Tom Jarrold, who only recently left the brand after a decade in that position, teased the audience with A|X’s newest campaign vehicle, an interactive video called “Happy Endings.” Released today, the black and white short, which was shot on-location during A|X’s Spring 2012 print campaign in Palm Springs (all the clothes are now available online and in-stores), users are invited to choose their own adventure, so to speak, with the options being Alex and Barbara, Barbara and Eduardo, Alex and Eduardo, or even all three. “For a little surprise,” Jarrold said.
For A|X and for other fashion brands, videos like this are creative but not entirely new. What is different about this particular one, and the reason why Jarrold called attention to it in his presentation today, is because the low risk, potentially high reward manner in which it was conceived: because all the players involved were already there, no new models or stylists were needed, no new travel or location costs were incurred — the video was a low/no-cost bonus that, regardless if it resonated with audiences or not, was a very smart business move.
Which was, in essence, the theme of many of today’s presentations. In today’s online world, brands must use the digital space in original ways to connect with their audiences. And in doing so, risk is necessary. Getting too caught up in trying to create “perfect” branded content not only reduces opportunity but also keeps you from learning best practices.