Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

NDA meets Laurent François, Managing Partner at 180 Luxe

Parfums Christian Dior (PCD), the perfumery and cosmetics line of the French fashion house, recently launched a digital experience to promote its new Dior Forever clean foundation. The experience enables people to upload photos, personalise them with stickers, and then share them on social media or messenger apps.

The platform, Foreversisterhood.com, was developed with the luxury-focused division of creative agency 180, 180 Luxe. The campaign – fronted by star of Black-ish Yara Shahidi – taps into the idea of community, and the rising behaviours seen across social networks and messenger apps around stickers and digital expressions.

“We decided to look at the place where people express their true selves. On messenger apps, people are using emojis or stickers more and more to express something they don’t have the words to describe,” says Laurent François, Managing Partner at 180 Luxe.

“We thought, ‘how cool would it be if we could create a simple platform where people can upload their photos, add a little element of the campaign, download it, and then share it on their messenger apps?’ It’s a simple idea where we give the consumer a lot of freedom.”

180 started working with PCD about 18 months ago, and has worked with them on several campaigns in that time. The partnership kicked off with a campaign for the launch of the Rouge Dior couture lipstick. For that, 180 developed a try-on filter, which enabled consumers to pick lipstick shades based on their mood, and see what they looked.

“They have an extremely talented internal team with a lot of agency people and other specialists from brand content, to digital activation, to innovation. The way we work with them isn’t typical to the way we work with other clients, because they are extremely creative themselves,” François says.

A valuable experience

Working Dior on that initial campaign helped 180 realise that when they create a utility, or a digital tool, “where there is a true value for the user”, people don’t necessarily choose to share their experience on social media.

“Most competitor brands are pushing to generate a public footprint, but it’s actually super cool to create assets for people to use within their daily lives. You might not generate a footprint, but you benefit through word of mouth,” explains François.

This is an approach that François thinks the whole industry should be working toward – delivering valuable experiences to consumers, rather than creating campaigns that are meant to encourage self-reflection or be relatable.

“The way we approach our target audiences is dramatically changing. At some point, maybe we should not create a campaign for a static audience, maybe we should only create tools that connect people on a specific need they may have,” he adds. “It’s a matter of financing the journey based on the new digital behaviours that we’re experiencing.”

Age-old debate

Whenever we discuss delivering experiences to consumers, the question of how much focus there should be on creativity, and how much focus there should be on data, always tends to pop-up. But François strongly believes “the two need to work hand-in-hand”.

We need to make magic using logic. Using data on its own doesn’t mean much,” he explains. “Where it gets interesting is when data gets creative. Suddenly connecting the dots between two databases for the very first time, in a way that have been approached or seen, can become a wonderful creative playground to develop an idea.”

To support this, François points to an example from a haircare brand which, about four years ago, was the first to create a hair colour ranged based on the outfits that people wear.

“It sounds obvious to us now, because we see it happening all the time. But, at the time, it was genius, because you’re connecting two sets of data: the insights you get from the salon, and data from social listening sites. You match the two, and end up with a potentially cool, creative idea,” says François.

“If you look at the history of advertising, the craziest ideas are a nice encounter between data and how an idea is going to coin, celebrate, or tap into cultural momentum.”

Staying active

180 hopes it can continue to tap into that cultural momentum, and build more experiences that provide true value to consumers. To do this, the agency is actively recruiting across its business, particularly across areas like augmented and hyper reality.

The agency is also looking to create more links between its various units, and the different regions it operates in, choosing to “operate as a global ecosystem of creativity”.

“We aim to keep growing at the pace we have been. We want to double, or even triple, our departments in terms of revenue, manpower, and beyond,” François states. “The ecommerce and omnichannel acceleration that most brands have experienced, thanks to COVID, has generated a need for digital specialists and creative digital ideas. We’re accelerating with our clients to match the pace of this growth.

“We are more and more creating bridges with all specialist units within 180. We have 180 Made, which is a division for content production and beyond. We have 180 Design, which is very strong when it comes to the design aspect. And we are creating strong bridges with our New York and LA offices, because the way you approach social and digital in the States is very different from the way you approach Europe. We’re also building bridges with the Middle East and Asia.”

On Asia, more broadly, François suggests that we should all be keeping an eye on Southeast Asia when it comes to social media, in particular, because “they’ve gone faster than any other region in the world on tech development in social”.

“The influence of the Asian digital approach is absolutely dazzling. It’s interesting to keep an eye on Southeast Asia as a way to forecast what’s going to be the new normal six or 12 months from now,” he concludes.

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