As soon as some branding dipshits try to tell you what they're not, you can unconditionally assume that's exactly what they are.
Such is the dilemma that Tiffany finds itself in.
Recently Tiffany's new owners, LVMH, launched a new campaign to "refresh" the brand's image. It is, without doubt, the tiredest, most derivative and thoroughly clichéd campaign of the year. Or the entire history of mankind. Or womankind. Or whatever kind you prefer.
If you'd asked a high school advertising class to come up with a campaign to "youthify" the Tiffany brand, this is exactly the shit they'd come up with.
Do these people actually believe that a combination of 20-years-out-of-date Gap/Calvin Klein skaggy alienation imagery, and 30-years-out-of-date Oldsmobile copy is "refreshing?" In trying to youthify Tiffany, they are in danger of euthanizing it.
The "Not Your Pathetic Old Person's Product" strategy was first made infamous by Oldsmobile in 1988. It soon went out of business. But a thousand and one awful versions of it linger on.
It is the knee-jerk ad strategy for every traditional brand that can't find its footing in a new world and doesn't have the imagination to say something different, or the talent to do something original.
Do I hate this campaign? I can't begin to tell you how much I hate it. It fails on every level. It is strategically vapid; it is creatively hackneyed; it is unimaginative; it is visually indistinguishable from a million other fashion campaigns; it is insulting to the brand's core customers. Other than that, it's fucking great.
On the other hand...
Has there ever been a better time than mid-2021 to launch a new campaign or do a re-brand?
No matter what they do, many retailer's sales will be up 30% just by turning the lights on.
My advice to the geniuses behind the Tiffany campaign is to immediately leverage the re-opening of the economy by fabricating some nice looking sales results, declare victory, and quickly move on to something less horrible.
Bob Hoffman is the author of several best-selling books about advertising, a popular international speaker on advertising and marketing, and the creator of 'The Ad Contrarian' newsletter, where this first appeared, and blog. Earlier in his career he was CEO of two independent agencies and the US operation of an international agency.