Did you see Vogue’s big branding faux pas?


A $1000 Fendi bib on Suri Cruise might have worked… but putting it on a child whose parents might hope to make $1.50 per day? Apparently the August edition of Vogue India featured such a pic among 16-pages of fashion editorial, which according to its editor, Priya Tanna, “sought to illustrate the power of fashion” as a strategy to reach a niche, the growingly affluent demographic in (the “new”) India. The iconic magazine received lashings for using less than rupee-full Indians as props to model $10,000 Hermes handbags and $200 Burberry umbrellas. “You have to remember with fashion, you can’t take it that seriously,” said Ms. Tanna. “We weren’t trying to make a political statement or save the world,” she said.

Therein lies the problem, Ms. Tanna…

What were they thinking? Vogue India must have their heads up their collective bums to think that shooting images of designer goods in the context of abject poverty was appropriate. Look, BG believes that fashion can be playful, in fact, it oftentimes should be playful, but is it ever chic to rub in someone’s nose their status as a have-not? BG, with her altruism filter firmly fixed, could see a way that this juxtaposition could have been used to enhance these brands, say if the editorial spread was being used to bring attention to the good works that these fashion brands were bringing to these people, now there’s a project that even Bono would approve of.

And hey, BG can’t help but think that it’s not just Vogue India suffering brand damage here—there is potential negative runoff for the designers that were featured in the shoot as well. Hermes, Alexander McQueen and the rest might want to highlight in the marketing their altruistic efforts around the world to help buffer this sitch. Even thought it was Vogue India who performed the faux pas, it was their price tags that were juxtaposed… It just isn’t done in this day and age where cause-related marketing is an integral part of nearly every company’s marketing plan and consumers have been trained to patronize companies that are socially and environmentally sensitive. We have long left the selfishness of the ’80s with the Bonfire of the Vanities mentality behind…

Coincidentally, last week it was reported that Vogue (USA) ad pages have been slipping – The September volume not so thick. The Vogue India fiasco can’t be helping the good ole’ USA brand, can it? Methinks this kind of press floating around on the web is a major no-no––afterall, consumers are interconnected and global. Reality check: What happens in India no longer stays in India, even when it comes to the sometimes nebulous world of branding or fashion.

But what do you think?
Was the fuss about Vogue’s India shoot…
1––Way overblown
2––Right on target
3––Didn’t scratch the surface

Filed: branding, fashion

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