Episode #166: How Beautiful Design Makes a Beautiful Life

It’s marketing day on the Unified-CXM Experience as we explore a gem of an advertising campaign. It’s packed with beautiful people, beautiful art, and beautiful cinematography. It’s a feast for the eyes and ears, and a great example of blending a historic past and a contemporary campaign to create a compelling brand experience. 

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All right. It’s Advertising Day here at the Unified CXM Experience. I’m CXO, Grad Conn, Chief Experience Officer at Sprinklr. Now normally we talk about unified CXM and customer experience management. And we will certainly do plenty of that over the coming months. But today, I wanted to take just a little bit of a turn into the marketing world for a minute. And I wanted to talk about a particular ad campaign that’s on the air right now. So I’m going to go very specific on something because I love it. So this will be a rave, and I’ll talk about a few things around it, which I think are interesting.

The campaign I want to talk about is from Tiffany’s and I’ve spent a reasonable amount of time and money in Tiffany’s over the many years, it’s a great brand, one of my favorite brands. There are some incredible things done around it. The history of it is extraordinary. There is a great documentary, which I’ll get the name of and post it; it talks all about the history of Tiffany’s and how it started and how it ended up in its current location. It’s pretty neat. Anyway, so if you’ve seen the ad, if you’re watching Hulu, you’ve probably seen the ad a few times, it’s the Jay-Z and Beyoncé Tiffany Moon River ad. So we’re going to talk about this and deconstruct it slightly and maybe put a little bit of a modern spin on it. And I’ll talk a little bit about what I think is going on in this ad that I think is so powerful.

There are a lot of nods in the ad to Audrey Hepburn, and the character that she played in Breakfast at Tiffany’s of Holly Golightly. It’s interesting that they’d pick that, and I don’t if you’ve seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s recently, we all tend to remember these iconic images from the movie. And in fact, the Hepburn with her hair in a high bun and an oversized cigarette holder, that image of her is considered to be one of the most iconic images of 20th century American cinema. Another iconic item in the movie are Holly’s sunglasses, they’re not Rebounds. They’re actually Manhattan sunglasses, designed and manufactured in London, by Oliver Goldsmith, and they rereleased those glasses in 2011, so you can still buy them.

And so this is an amazing iconic movie with an unbelievably unfortunate racial slur in it. So if you’ve seen the movie recently, you’ll know what I’m talking about. But many people remember the iconic images of it. They remember the song Moon River which Henry Mancini composed for the film, and Audrey Hepburn sings on a fire escape. All that stuff’s beautiful and the love story in it is beautiful.

And then there’s this bizarre scene or set of scenes, with Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi. And he’s got a prosthetic mouthpiece and makeup and he is doing a charactered approximation of a Japanese person. And it is outrageously bad, it is just so incredibly offensive. And it’s interesting, the audio commentary on the DVD release, the producer of the film, Richard Shepard said at the time of production, and as well, in retrospect, he really wanted to recast the role to someone who was actually Japanese. But Blake Edwards who did a good job in the movies, certainly is a well-respected comedy director, wanted to keep Mickey Rooney. And Shepard has repeated that, and he’s apologized and said, if we could just change Mickey Rooney, I’d be thrilled with the movie. And director Blake Edwards, you know, in more contemporary times has stated, “Looking back, I wish I’d never done it, and I would give anything to be able to recast it, but it’s there and you know, onward and upward”. I don’t know, I feel like he could fix that. I feel like someone could snip that out of the movie. It’s not a particularly important role or it certainly could be redone in a way that would be much more respectful. But it’s interesting that that’s the movie that this campaign is based on, given sort of, like some of the other sort of racial overtones and undertones in this ad, which I think are fantastic. But it’s also fascinating to me that they would touch that piece. So anyway, maybe it’s a good way to get it fixed.

So let me talk about the ad a little bit. If you’ve not seen it, they’ve been married 20 years now. So it’s the love story of Jay-Z and Beyoncé. And you know, they’ve had some challenging times and if you remember Lemonade, Beyoncé’s album, and there’s a lot of stuff going on there. And so they clearly have been through some of the hardest of the hard that people go through when in a relationship. And so a couple of the things are kind of interesting. There’s a Jean-Michel Basquiat tableau, which is done in Tiffany blue, and Tiffany now actually owns it. Who knows how much that’s worth now? Some of his stuff is going for over a 100 million now. The film features Beyoncé, wearing a particularly impressive 128.54 carat yellow diamond. It was the same diamond that Audrey Hepburn was wearing when she pulled up at the Tiffany store to gaze in the windows while munching a croissant. In the movie Audrey Hepburn’s wearing it on a ribbon necklace. This time the diamond is mounted in a slightly more subtler mount. I think you see the diamond a bit better, too. Interestingly, they keep mentioning this. I don’t know why. It seems a bit odd to me but apparently Beyoncé is the first ever black woman to wear this particular diamond which is of course, ironically, from Africa.

So she sits at the piano, she’s singing a cover of Moon River, there’s scenes of her getting out of her private jet, she’s in her private jet. Jay-Z is at home in his private screening room and kind of filming her with some eight-millimeter. There is a neat bit of other stuff where they do outtakes from the filming of the ad and Tiffany’s put that up as well. And so there’s a whole bunch of content, it’s really just about the two of them together, and it’s very dreamy. So what is it about this ad that I like? Or what about this ad that I think is cool and interesting? And I’m going to say that there’s three layers on this one.

First of all, and I’ll just get this out of the way really quickly. Beyoncé looks amazing. There’s this one scene where she’s wearing the necklace backwards while she’s playing the piano, and so keep it out of the way, I guess. And it’s kind of falling down her back and she’s got a partially backless dress on and oh my god, great scene. There’s something about the ad and just the people in it. Jay-Z looks also very awesome and very hip. He’s kind of done his hair a little bit like Jean-Michel Basquiat would do it; so kind of interesting, too. But a very, very, very, very beautiful ad. Beautiful people, beautiful scenes, beautiful homes, beautifully shot. I haven’t seen an ad shot this beautifully in ages. It’s got a 1980s, early 90s sort of Chanel number 5 kind of ad feel to it. It’s shot to be incredibly beautiful. And I think what’s interesting is that in a world of UGC and in a world of all the stuff that we look at every day on social platforms, we’re getting used to stuff looking very low quality, and seeing something shot so beautifully and in such gorgeous lighting is unusual. And it really stands out.

The second thing which I love about the ad, and this is where I think it’s very modern in a way is that they’ve got a lot of code in it; it’s like the necklace from the movie, it’s the Jean-Michel Basquiat point painting that’s kind of in the picture, it’s their love affair, which is a complicated one, and there’s a whole bunch of layers and the ad has been kind of “controversial”, although when you read what the controversies are, they’re not. It’s not that controversial. But they’ve been able to create a lot of “what’s going on in this ad” kind of buzz? And I think that’s actually very hard to do these days. They’ve done something where they’ve made the ad inherently interesting beyond the ad itself. And people are looking at outtakes, people are talking about it, people are posting about it, people are making comments about it, people are doing podcasts about it, you know, it’s got this sort of stickiness to it. That’s very different. Now look at the amount of amplification they’re getting on that ad and in a world of connected people, connected social platforms, it is a really smart thing to do. It’s really smart to do something that people talk about, that creates buzz, that creates amplification, that people want to see it.

And then the third thing which I’ll also tip my hat to some of the old masters. There’s always been a little bit of a controversy. It was probably Rosser Reeves versus Bill Bernbach would be two sides of this equation where Rosser Reeves was very famous for his Anacin ad and he’s very famous for just banging people on the head over and over and over again; buy this, buy this, buy this. I often remember the old Anacin ads from the 60s, but they were just ridiculous, but everyone remembered them. People hated that they remembered them. And Bill Bernbach wanted to romance people with the ads. He created all the Volkswagen ads and many other incredible campaigns, and he wanted the ads to be something that people loved to read, and people enjoyed reading, and people welcomed into their lives. And I actually think Bill Bernbach was right on this one. Because in a world where people have a lot of choices in the media that they consume, and a lot of choices at what they want to look at and see it’s very, very easy for people to turn it off, you’re going to have to romance the viewer, you want to make them want to watch it. And so what I think they’ve done is, not only is it beautiful, and not only is it sort of viral because there’s lot of codes in it, but it’s also very watchable.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the ad, there’s a minute and a half version, by the way, if you like the 30-second on Hulu, there’s a minute and a half on YouTube. This is like “yeah, I can watch this thing 100 times. It’s fantastic”. And so that to me is really the markings of really taking something which is, you know, pretty old art form now, which is, you know, film, and cinema, and light, cameras and action. And then making it very modern in a way that I think updates the Tiffany brand. I will say that Tiffany’s is doing a really nice job of updating the brand and LMVH is doing some incredible work to bring that brand into the 21st century. And like I said, I’ve been a customer for a long time, but it’s really nice to see the brand continue to drive relevance and to be hip and modern and cool and urban. Way to go and keep going! I think that’s just fantastic to keep the brand that way because even people who are maybe a little bit older, still like to feel young.

There is an insight there that inside every 80-year-old there’s a 25-year-old screaming at the mirror wondering what happened to their face. People remember themselves young; people don’t remember themselves or think of themselves as old. So whenever you make a brand younger, it’s not like older people are going to be like, “I don’t want to be part of that young brand anymore”. Older people love that. Older people say, “I want to be part of that young brand. That young brand makes me feel energized, makes me feel hip. I don’t want to feel old myself”. And of course people who are young are also energized by it as well. Even though they probably can’t afford the necklace that Beyoncé is wearing in the ad, although she can, they definitely want to aspire to it. And they may walk out with a key ring, but they went in there because of the diamond. So for the CXM Experience, I’m Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr. Go buy something at Tiffany’s and I’ll see you … next time.