TwelveAM’s MD: how luxury brands tackle social media

When opening a social channel, the aim is to be entertained

In this interview OJ Deady, Founder and MD at TwelveAM, looks at the changing audiences of luxury and how big luxury brands are shifting their platform focus, bringing social media into the mix to reflect evolving customer attitudes.

Why did it take a while for luxury brands to see the opportunity in social media?

I think the ever changing landscape of social is what primarily concerns most luxury brands when developing strategies specific to each channel. Most luxury brands have such great heritage, which often doesn’t translate to social. It takes time to really develop and understand what their purpose is for said channels; while always protecting that heritage. The length of time it took to really consider the purpose of each channel and how to engage with new audiences is what — often rightly so — slowed brands down when it came to jumping in. 

Equally, the opportunity to engage in new audiences is paramount for all brands, but often quite difficult. When considering social platforms this must be done in a new way, and isn’t a case of simply mimicking more traditional channels. More often than not, social will be the first exposure to a brand for a new customer, so it’s key that the communication and content published is exciting and native to the platform.

What type of content are they choosing to put out?

It’s a mix of everything from short films and reels to static imagery and both product and talent-led content. Video is the main format and the most engaging, but a blend is often what we are looking to achieve to sustain the frequency and continued growth of a brand’s channel.

Is there still a USP to luxury social that sets it apart?

Production is not necessarily a USP, but certainly the levels of production and the premium look and feel of what is being produced can’t be overlooked. The cost of this may have been too great to begin with, but with new agency structures like our own where everything is produced in-house; we have been able to produce short films to the standard that the brands and audiences expect when seeing luxury products. 

Is there a risk that social media presence is reductive for a high end brand, or is it about audiences?

I don’t believe it is reductive. There is certainly a time and place where exclusivity must still be a part of a brand’s identity, but when looking to engage a new audience, what has come before simply isn’t enough. We must find ways to engage with new audiences while not alienating the current customer base, which is something we focus a lot of our time on. A total departure from any brand’s values is not something we would ever look to produce — we’d simply find a way to tell stories that enhance the great brands that we are all familiar with.

Who are the ads aimed at? Existing shoppers or a new audience of people with less disposable income but a more aspirational attitude? Or both? 

Sustaining the aspirational qualities of a brand is certainly the primary focus. As mentioned it is often a new audience we are trying to attract and engage with so we need to find a way to make work that feels modern and up to date and appropriate for each of the channels we are looking to publish with.

Creating work that speaks to dual audiences is probably one of the more difficult challenges, but something we pride ourselves on with the work we produce for the likes of LVMH. Our goal when taking on any project is to cross the boundaries between advertorial and entertainment. The initial mindset when opening a social channel is to be entertained, first and foremost, so we must be sensitive to that before ever looking to sell products specifically. More often than not, we are brand building with an ambition to sell to said audience through different means.

Are you seeing a move away from a traditional type of luxury advertising into something more creator-led or mainstream? 

In short, yes. There certainly is a time and place for more traditional advertising, but if we can create a consistency across both, that at any given point the audience comes in contact with a brand, that it feels unique to them, then we have done our job.

Luxury advertising has typically been about glossy magazines and big ticket OOH displays. Are those still part of the media mix? Is the messaging consistent? 

Traditionally luxury advertising has been focused on glossy magazines and high profile OOH sites, and as much as social media now has a part to play, those happily remain part of the media mix. Messaging is the primary consistency factor, but we must also be identifying opportunities where the visual can feel consistent across all channels of communication.

In your experience, what is the style of messaging that luxury brands should adopt to reach their target audience?

The style simply has to be an evolution. We are not trying to completely change what has gone before, as heritage remains important in what we do, and is a reason why the brands we work with are often household names, such as Tiffany&Co. We look to make this appropriate for the channels we work in, and find ways to make it appropriate.

Have you found it a challenge to convince marketers/clients, or are they already on board?

Over the years it has been a challenge for sure, but we are certainly seeing a shift. I feel as though there is more trust now in what we are doing and as an agency, as we’ve been doing it for seven years now. I believe our consistency in the space also gives clients reassurance when it comes to creating content for luxury brands.

Do you anticipate/are you seeing mainstream brands now trying to emulate the luxury social vibe?

At times, yes. Mainstream brands have more flexibility when it comes to new strategies or direction, and a desire for premium content — regardless of whether the brand is considered luxury or not — is definitely a key differentiator, and something more and more clients are coming to us to produce.

Featured image: Racheal / Pexels

OJ Deady, Managing Director at TwelveA.M

OJ Deady is Managing Director of premium creative content agency TwelveA.M. Based in London and having recently moved from his role as Creative Director OJ has and continues to oversee creative direction for brands including billion-dollar celebrity cult-beauty brand Augustinus Badder, global retailer Reserved, and Tiffany&Co.The agency is focussed on telling real people's stories and fully committed to understanding their subjects and telling their stories in an unguarded and authentic way, with great respect for what goes into narrative-driven and honest imagery. OJ's current focus is on growing the team and expanding their portfolio in the luxury space.

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