A study of luxury ads released over the last two years by The Luxury Institute and emotion measurement firm Realeyes has revealed the four key ingredients to successful luxury brand advertising – and highlights which ads were the best.
Using facial tracking technology, the firms analysed how video ads from 24 brands were perceived by 1,200 people from $100,000+ income households (the findings are applicable to the UK).
One of the key findings was the gradual shift in luxury brands’ communications from “show and entice” to “engage and connect”, or as Realeyes CEO’ Mihkel Jäätma says, “We’re beginning to see signs that luxury advertising may be shifting away from what might be considered a more aloof and elitist past to trying harder to connect emotionally with viewers.”
The four key ingredients are:
• Avoid the ‘look-book’: videos that are just lovely moving images don’t cut it – an emotional connection must be made with the viewer. Speaking has high engagement value. Films with dialogue outperformed films with monologues or no speaking at all.
• Tell relatable stories: a simply story that a viewer can understand, follow and relate to yields a stronger emotional reaction compared to those that don’t.
• Question celebrity: Recognisable stars may grab attention but it doesn’t ensure engagement in itself, unless the celebrity is seen to interact and engage. It’s the story that helps make the more important emotional bond.
• Income matters: The highest income bracket was generally far more emotionally engaged across the videos within the study, which highlights the benefits of accurate targeting.
Milton Pedraza, the Luxury Institute’s CEO says: “The luxury industry has a very strong tradition of creating a mysterious and distant dream in its advertising but as consumers change, it’s responding by making clever use relatable truths and humor, casting celebrities in a more approachable light, and representing a broader spectrum of the human experience.”
These are the three ads that scored the highest emotional engagement with viewers:
1. Mercedes’ “Easy Driver” with Peter Fonda (scored better than 87% of all ads ever in Realeyes’ database): a strong start and a steadily increasing “happy” response ensure engagement keeps growing. The film’s nostalgia, manliness, humor and celebrity has particular appeal to a female audience, with a higher engagement score (9) and a perfect 10 in attraction.
2. Dolce & Gabanna “Light Blue Eau Intense: a new chapter” (better than 87%): sex sells but does so even better when combined with humor – the happiness curve spikes as the director interrupts at the end.
3. Kate Spade “#missadventure” with Miss Piggy (better than 83%): starts on a neutral note before introducing a story to hold attention and artfully strengthen engagement. It finishes with the highest impact score of all the films in the study.
“The key to success in luxury advertising today is in mastering the perfect balance between building the desire of the exclusive, whilst making it tangible enough to buy,” concludes Jäätma.