THE FACES OF GUCCI - 90 YEARS OF LUXURY - BY SHODOR UDDIN
THE FACES OF GUCCI The Change of Gucci advertisements over the past century in relation to it competitors, target market and other social changes The introduction of brands and modern technology marked a drastic change in lifestyle as we entered the 19th Century. During this period we have also watched the formation of the fashion industry, where many great labels emerged. Gucci is one that has been vastly influential, becoming one of society’s most glamorous brands. Founded in 1921 by Guccio Guggi, the brand adapted over the past 90 years according to social and lifestyle changes over time. Evolving its appearance through marketing, we can see how the face of Gucci has changed by looking through a timeline of their advertisements. Guccio was born in Florence 1881. In his younger years, he migrated to London and began working in Savoy Hotel. Finding himself intrigued with wealthy travellers’ luggage, he returned to Italy and successfully setup his own leather bags and goods store in Florence. His adverts these years were very limited and reflected his business size and budget. It was a small and simple text ad printed in local newspapers and magazines. At this time, it was common to have text-based adverts as technology and printing methods were still in its developing stages. 10 years on, Guccio’s brand found itself becoming popular for its sophisticated products. These were targeted at the higher end of society. Many of which, were horse riders who bought into the brand to show of their wealth. As the brand expanded, Guccio began hiring photographers of the time to produce the images for their new adverts. These were kept simple, contemporary and classy. For example the 1947 Bamboo icon magazine add shot by Guido Mocafico. This was helpful in maintaining Gucci’s reputation. During the 50’s and 60’s, television and pop culture established huge superstars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Barbra Streisand. Many celebrities like these were seen in and around the Gucci stores wearing the label, and it was this exposure that really boosted the brand. In effect, they were all tools of advertising for Gucci. Each star was followed and reported about, the fact that they were wearing Gucci publicised the label. However, the most effective celebrity during this period was Audrey Hepburn. In 1962 she is spotted in several places covered in Gucci, making the brand more than desirable for those who idolised her. We can consider these to be the first form of celebrity advertising in fashion. Complimenting the added fame from these celebrities unknowingly marketing the product, Gucci remained focused on royal figures. Guccio Gucci passes away in 1953, leaving his empire to his three sons who continue to expand through “internationalisation”. Rodolpho leads this by opening stores across America but this did not affect their father’s morals. They designed the innovative floral patterned bag in the 60’s for Princess Grace of Monaco. This became another hallmark for Gucci and this was promoted heavily through advertising in magazines such as Bazaar and Vogue. Many of these adverts were still heavily
focused on the products textural qualities rather than the people in the adverts. This is revealed by the usage of contrasted black and white, sophisticated and simple compositions. Fashion Photography increased as cameras became more accessible. Helmut Newton and David Bailey are just a few names amongst those who pioneered this change in photographic style. Influencing great photographers such as Albert Watson and Nick Knight in the 70’s. It was here that the catwalk fashion, music, sex and drug influences from the 60’s came into play. However, despite all the nudity and open sexual content, the top luxury brands marketing campaigns were yet to incorporate these themes. Studies of 70’s marketing by Gucci reveal that they have also kept away from this and focused the products, perfumes and their beautiful stores. But this clearly did not affect the brands popularity as stars such as Sophia Lauren and Princess Soraya of Iran are being seen exploiting the brand in the 70’s.
a very contemporary room with male companion. The following year, competing brands then released their new ad-campaign that is even more provocative than their previous campaign and competing brands. Georgio Armani’s 1997 ‘Boxer shorts’ adseries is another example, making rivals push even further. This cycle continues right up to today. Every year each brand would push sexual and seductive content aiming to re-define sexy and to reflect on their dominance as a trendsetters of fashion, sex and desire.
The 80’s marked a difficult time for the household. The death of Rodolpho later that year and the stepping in of his son Maurizio proved to be problematic. Many family disputes began to arise and the empire was crumbling. InvestCorp end up buying 50% of the shares and by 1993, Maurizio is forced out of the company making the Gucci family no longer involved with the brand. But what effect did this have on the brand? Suddenly, the Gucci advertisements were starting to lose that authenticity that it had over the past few decades. Although it can be argued that this was this was the contemporary look for the decade, we can refer back to previous decades where despite
This year, nearly a century since the household was founded, and we can see that the brand is now trying to regenerate its family values through its new campaigns. Jenifer Lopez and her children will be the faces of the brands new children’s range. In addition, they have also pulled out a selection of images from their 60’s and 70’s archive to promote their “Timeless” watch collection.
Coincide with this they are still releasing their provocative campaigns for it’s perfumes and general fashion range. This makes it is clear that our world is now dominated by sex and culture
what was happening in advertising, Gucci were able to maintain their overall, royal image.
desire. But what would have happened to Gucci if they had not followed this trend? Would they have ‘died’ out and become unpopular? And what does this say about the bulk of our society? Have we literally become a money hungry, sex and brand obsessed?
The brands that have been introduced to us since the late 18th century were once to provide official titles for generic goods. But over the decades have become a way of living. By 1990, the vast majority have become brand obsessed. Purchasing only top branded products, Klein (2000, p.8) refers to this as the “Brand Wars”. She discusses that this truly began after the recession, where top brands that were said to fall by those in Wall Street saw all time high, many of which expanded to different fields to their original product list. Gucci was no different. In 1975, Gucci’s first perfume was launched, and by 1990, they had expanded to women’s and men’s fashion and accessories. Dawn Mello was reeled into the company in 1989 to help rebrand (Charles, p.235). Tom Ford was also introduced to aid with the rebrand, focusing on the womenswear. It took several years, but soon enough the Gucci name was recovered from its tarnishing period in the 80s. However, was this at the cost of the brands overall look? Sexual content was becoming more and more common within these top-end designer labels as these brands pushed themselves to appeal to the wider market. Calvin Klein’s ad campaigns were one of the first out of these brands to reveal this sexual content, particularly with their 1994 ad. But by 1996 it seems that almost all over fashion labels. For Gucci, it began with their models posing in slightly more seductive positions. Their winter 96-97 typifies this as model Georgina Grenville is portrayed in a series of seductive poses in
vUsing celebrities to exploit the brand has remained a crucial part for promotion, but is now completely different to what it once was in the tearly 60s. The most popular faces are used in the brands adverts to reach out to a wider audience. Gucci have had a series of great names over the years including: Brad Pitt, Kate Moss, Elizabeth Hurley, Cameron Diaz, Pharell Williams and Madonna.
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THE FACES OF GUCCI - 90 YEARS OF LUXURY -BY SHODOR UDDIN 2011 - UDD09267759