“Luxury is more and more part of culture, is part of our dreams, of philosophy, of sociology… and has to match these current concerns, current thoughts or current streams.” according to Cyrille Vigneron, Cartier’s CEO.
For the re-launch of its iconic Santos watch, Cartier staged a three-day symposium of talks in San Francisco that was more private members’ club-slash-TED talk than corporate event. Industry leaders from all over joined: the artist Es Devlin spoke with Larry Jackson of Apple Music; Bob Roth, the western father of Transcendental Meditation, discussed the nature and usefulness of fear with the surfer Laird Hamilton.
Only a keen eye would notice that each of the male speakers sported the latest watch – no display cabinet, no opportunity to buy, not even a Cartier coffee cup. “The starting point when thinking about the launch was simply not to make it like a launch event,” explains Cyrille Vigneron, Cartier’s CEO. “[Cartier was] known for audacity, for being really of its time. So what appeared to be really necessary first was to give back energy and visibility of what the brand was about.”
“Only having a product as a kind of pretext, having only celebrities on the photocall full stop … This kind of event has lost all the surprise and has lost meaning. It’s kind of just a routine.” says Vigneron.
For all Cartier’s reputation as a heritage brand, it instead created an opportunity to hear some of the brightest minds talk with no other purpose than to share ideas. Another major luxury brand which is mastering the anti-marketing approach is Hermes, which is brilliantly creating events with apparent no purpose and no connection to the brand, the best example being the ‘last minute’ carnival which it organised on Wall Street last year.
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