Vik Khagram
Mar 5, 2023

Pharell at Louis Vuitton: Power of influence or best man for the job?

Pharrell Williams being appointed as the creative director at Louis Vuitton has nothing to do with influencer marketing or personal branding. Zilch.

Pharell at Louis Vuitton: Power of influence or best man for the job?

Some of the 'hot takes’ on this have racked up thousands of likes, but were so wide of the mark they needed a misinformation tag to warn people consuming the content.

One post mentioned him alongside a Love Islander, a fast-fashion brand and other faux creative directors who have no skin in the game of creating anything when compared to what Pharrell has achieved since 1992.

Others spoke about his huge online following being a reason he was chosen. Am I missing something? Is that why Virgil was given the role? Or Sabato De Sarno at Gucci? Or Demna at Balenciaga? Because they had lots of followers? If you need to Google them, then that point is also null and void.

Another made a series of points about ‘Pharrell Williams, the brand’ – turning him from creative genius to an Apprentice contestant fired by Alan Sugar. A hit that ‘helped his brand’ was another reason LV hired him (apparently), rather than his deep history of being a changemaker at the forefront of multiple facets of popular culture for 30 years.

Pharrell’s appointment is a million miles away from the power of influencer marketing and having a strong personal brand. At no point in his career did he ever think: “Ooooh, this is going to help my personal brand and boost my engagement rate.” He doesn’t care about those – if he did, he wouldn’t have worn this hat.

It really is OK to let someone’s greatness shine, rather than trying to attribute it to the latest marcomms buzzword or trend.

He gained his reputation as a creative visionary from being unapologetically true to himself. He went left when everyone was going right. He took risks because he wanted to, for his vision. This is why he’s at LV. Anything stating otherwise is insulting.

He changed the sonic landscape of Hip-Hop with The Clipse and N.O.R.E., and turned Justin Timberlake from pop preppy to R&B crooner, but this barely scratches the surface of what he achieved musically.

Even as the hottest producer in the business, he was always tapping into other forms of culture – partnerships with BAPE, Adidas, Billionaire Boys Club, Chanel and Moncler attest to this. Constantly pushing the envelope.

He also created Something In The Water, a celebration of creativity in the form of a festival in his native Virginia, with eye-catching visuals and artistic collaborations.

Has he influenced people? Of course! That is his true influence – not some new type of influence that only happened post-Instagram/TikTok. This type of influence has existed for decades.

There isn’t a comment piece that can sum up Pharrell’s creativity, skills, ideas, designs, and all the incredible moments he has created that have led him to this prestigious role at LV. You’d run out of word count trying.

Vik Khagram is head of influencer marketing at Ketchum


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