Win-Win Branding at the Oscars: Dresses

Every year, it’s the same game: “Angelina – Kate – Julia – Penelope – Keira – Natalie – WHO are you wearing?”

And so, every year, one of the biggest luxury branding events begins. While gratis Moët and expensive gift bags are reserved only for the actual Oscar attendees, there are two luxury items on show solely for us, the masses: The jewelry, and the dresses.

Luxury Good Branding at the Oscars: Cameron Diaz wearing Oscar de la Renta (2010). Courtesy of A.M.P.A.S.

Luxury Good Branding at the Oscars: Cameron Diaz wearing Oscar de la Renta (2010). Courtesy of A.M.P.A.S.

Not that the majority of us Oscars audiences at home could afford either of the two. As a matter of fact, the dresses that we admire from afar easily cost the same amount of money most of us hardly make in a year. And the jewelry! Which of us could even aggregate that kind of money in a lifetime of working?

But still, we care – after all, we can dream, right? And knowing those names, knowing that Reese Witherspoon and Cate Blanchett prefer Valentino (2002 and 2005, respectively) whereas Cameron Diaz likes Oscar de la Renta (2010) and Penelope Cruz picked Chanel in 2008 – it makes us feel like we’re a part of it, like we’re there. Even though we don’t have the means to actually do so, we happily buy into the lifestyle and glamour these luxury brands embody.

And so it becomes a win-win branding situation for these luxury dressmakers. From this Sunday onwards, several hundred million people around the world will again be closely following the designer fashion masterpieces on show at the Academy Awards. They will compare them, praise them, hate them, and judge them, and by doing so they will engage with each of these brands in a manner that hardly any other marketing campaign can accomplish. While not every consumer may be wealthy enough to buy into these designer brands financially, they have a way to be a part of that life-style nevertheless: As the judges deciding what’s top – and what’s not.

All the while, the small group of people who can actually afford them is given the opportunity to buy into something truly glamorous and luxurious. A dress that was worn by a famous actress at the Oscars does not need any more validation than that. It is fabulous, it is extravagant, and it is reserved for only the most distinguished of ladies. A dress that was worn and considered ‘top’ at the Oscars carries the promise of unquestioned and ‘true’ glamour that no marketing campaign could manufacture.

Penelope Cruz wearing Chanel Haute Couture at the 2008 Academy Awards. Courtesy of A.M.P.A.S.

Penelope Cruz wearing Chanel Haute Couture at the 2008 Academy Awards. Courtesy of A.M.P.A.S.

And so every year again, Oscar audiences around the world are eager to catch a glimpse at the latest gowns and frocks, judging and dreaming, and buying into the lifestyle they promise – mostly with their minds, and sometimes also with their money. A truly unique phenomenon – or is there anything comparable one of you out there can think of? Do let me know – I’d really like to hear your opinions on this!

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2 Responses to Win-Win Branding at the Oscars: Dresses

  1. Alexander Moore says:

    To its core, the Academy Awards are an award show.  Celebrating the best-of-the-best in Hollywood, the night highlights the triumphs and accomplishments of the Industry’s most important players.  However, and I agree with Christine, the night’s focus is somewhat skewed by other variables that aid the show’s success or failure.  The hosts, which included the “hip” and “aimed at a younger demographic” Anne Hathaway and James Franco, the skits, the performances and, of course, the fashion, all help define the film industry’s most glamorous night. 

    Focusing on the fashions, as Christine points out, sets the tone for the entire night.  From the “Red Carpet Coverage” to the four outfit changes seen on Ms. Hathaway, it’s all about recreating the height of elegance, to the envy of viewers all over the world.  This fascination for “the best dressed list,” which steals focus from the accomplishments of the filmmakers themselves, is an interesting phenomenon, however an important staple within our culture.  Yes, the dresses are important.  Yes, the jokes made by the hosts are important.  These exterior factors are now just as important to the show as the awards themselves.

    Finally, I must add that this is the trend of all major award shows today.  The Oscars are defined by fashion and jokes.  The Grammys and Tonys are defined by performances.  The MTV VMAs are defined by the outrageous antics.  In order to keep audiences interested and to ensure that it was a “good ____ this year,” these pieces are just as, or equally important to the success and popularity of the show as the winners and losers.

  2. Xinyi says:

    From purely marketing point of view, I do consider it as brand endorsement. Those celebrities on the red carpet are the brands themselves. They are invited to Oscar award with the healthy glamorous image that meets the requirement of those luxurious labels. Therefore, it is the most effortless and efficient way for any fashion/jewelry designers to promote their brands.

    Having said this, celebrity endorsement means taking the risk to trust to collaborate with others to promote your own brand. I remember the big scandal happened with Dior in China 3 years ago. Their spokesperson Sara Stone gave a brainless speech that relate Chinese earthquake as a karma from Chinese government controlling Tibetan. Dior had to remove all the promotions and advertisement which with Sara Stone involved away from Chinese market. Sara Stone’s action not only affected Dior’s brand image, but also affected Chinese consumers’ perception toward many other Sarah Stone endorsed products. The similar story also happened to Pepsi, when one of its Chinese spokesperson got involved in the sex video scandal, Pepsi canceled its contract and changed to another celebrity with a healthy image immediately.

    Comparing to the above risks with celebrity endorsement in a long term, wearing the pretty dresses in the Oscar Award has minimized the risks and won eyeballs from audiences.