Posts Tagged ‘PR’

PR on the red carpet

By Wendy Luyckx (

Did you watch the ceremony of the 83rd Academy awards (commonly referred to as the Oscars)? Probably not, as it was only 5 am in Belgium. 🙂

You may think I am crazy but for this opportunity I set my alarm … since neither Richard nor George invited me this year. And I really wanted to be a part of it.

Nevertheless it was a fabulous show. What struck me most is that year after year, the Oscars ceremony has become THE commercial PR event for the Versace’s, the Prada’s, Gucci’s and Chanel’s, for the Chopard’s and the Louboutins of this world. Whether it’s the Academy Awards, EMI’s or theGolden Globes, the focus has moved out of the ceremony room, onto the red carpet.

Put your marketing budget in the red carpet PR

Patty Fox, the famous Oscars stylist, summarizes very well the essence of what the Oscars have become: “The red carpet is all about style, the room is about movies.” Celebrities are the live promoters of the brands they are wearing. People love it and identify themselves with the stars. Fashion designers have understood and increasingly move their marketing budgets away from advertising and into the red carpet PR.

Just for a moment, imagine Penélope Cruz or Nicole Kidman wearing a magnificent Chopard necklace at the Cannes Film Festival. Their picture will travel around the world in no time, quicker and cheaper than any advertisement can achieve. And I assure you, people will love Chopard, even if today they can’t afford it.

It’s a sign of our times, a reflection of how fashion and luxury brands are organized to make us love – and buy – their products.  In his book “We are consuming like hell”, the Belgian sociologist Dirk Geldof explains why people are eager to buy exclusive fashion or luxury accessories. It’s because people are convinced that they are worth it and deserve it…

“Yes, I think I am worth it”

Especially people between 25 and 50 work very hard, build a career, get promoted, raise children and end up with hardly any free time for themselves. But their stress and effort need to be compensated one way or the other. Therefore most of what they buy, are compensation purchases. Work hard, play hard, enjoy hard…  I think Geldof is right and I recognize myself in this. I admit I am one of these people who love shopping, enjoying exclusive quality, indulging in style and spoiling myself with a stylish dress or a trendy handbag or shoes after a week of hard work.  And yes, I think I am worth it 😉

Luxury brands and fashion designers are responding to that sociological reality. More than that, they anticipate it. They create the appetite, the almost irresistible desire to own that Gucci outfit, those Louboutins shoes, that Hermés handbag. That’s why they invest millions of dollars in sponsoring celebrities to walk across the red carpet while showing their products to the world.  It’s a new way of thinking about fashion shows, making the Oscars ceremony a phenomenal PR event. It’s all about style and fashion. Oh, I almost forgot, it’s also a little bit about movie awards.

Halle Berry wearing one of the most stunning Oscar evening dresses (designer not communicated)

The star of the night Anne Hathaway in a Valentino dress wearing Tiffany-jewelry (Photonews)

Nathalie Portman won the Oscar for best actress in ‘The Black Swan’

Sharon Stone wearing one of the most stunning Oscar evening dresses (designer not communicated)


The PR Business: Deficit as advantage

Posted by Kathy Van Looy

Making Belgium a service centre for Europe is the only way to make all our businesses grow.

In Porter Novelli’s reception area every employee has her or his picture hanging on the wall. On the extreme left a few hooks are empty. Here, too, the crisis has struck. ‘Since the summer we are growing again,’ says managing director Luc Missinne, ‘but with the right mindset we could grow a lot more quickly. It’s time Belgium became the access point to Europe. After all, no one is better suited than us.’

Porter Novelli felt the dip caused by the crisis quite early on. Luc Missinne: ‘Last year, when everyone was still enthusiastic about their turnover, we were already up against it. It’s because of the type of work we do and the type of customers we have.’ Porter Novelli is mainly focussed on international work or on multinationals that have a branch in Belgium. ‘These multinationals are more market-sensitive than your average SME. They keep their budgets tight and take quick action after developing a business prognosis. The marketing communications budget is therefore the first to be cut. At the same time we also do a lot of work at corporate level. An advertising agency concentrating on product launch would only become aware much later that something was wrong with our economy. After all, a product that has to be launched can’t wait, but a future acquisition can be better planned. I therefore had no option but to cut our staff down to eighty per cent. There is nothing worse than letting talent go, especially if talent is the only thing your organisation has to offer. Fortunately I quickly understood what was going to happen at the economic level and took prompt action. Since then we’ve been able to work in a stable way. I haven’t had to reduce my work force any further and since this summer we are growing again, though I want to wait as long as possible before starting to recruit.’

The Belgian entrepreneur

Sensing when things get tight, taking action, making adjustments: only a real entrepreneur knows how to handle this. Missinne: ‘We need more entrepreneurial blood in the consulting world. The normal career path takes a senior consultant to a manager’s position, but even if you have special expertise as a consultant it doesn’t make you an entrepreneur. Porter Novelli has become as big as it is today because of the acquisitions it made. After a takeover the original entrepreneur and founder will remain in charge of the office. After all, you must – once you are in that position – have a pretty good feel for managing the business.’ Missinne calls himself an entrepreneur first and foremost and only then a consultant. ‘I represent a relatively small country within Porter Novelli International, but still I’m the only European on the Executive Board. That has to do with Belgium’s position in Europe, of course, but even more with the fact that I behave like an entrepreneur.’ Belgium is actually a country of entrepreneurs, at least according to Missinne. ‘Belgium is teeming with self-employed people. There are so many who want to achieve this, but they all come up against the same limitation. Our domestic marked is limited.’

To read the full story, click here