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Vision of success
AS THE COMPETITION for consumer dollars intensifies, advertising has become less of a hard-sell and more of a brand-building exercise. When you're the world's largest luxury menswear label, the pressure to stand out from the rest is even higher. But when you're Ermenegildo Zegna, setting the bar high comes naturally to it.
The luxury house launched a comprehensive campaign titled "Defining Moments" earlier this year for the Spring/Summer 2017 season with revered Hollywood veteran Robert de Niro and rookie actor McCaul Lombardi. It was shot in a documentary-format based on the concept of two people having a conversation about their life, career and things that they consider as their "defining moments".
Says Zegna's CEO Gildo Zegna of this new direction: "The market, the consumers, and the demands of both are constantly changing, and for a company to remain competitive, it needs to offer products that meet customer expectations. The "Defining Moments" campaign . . . is the beginning of a new path for Zegna that is consistent with our history and our DNA, and at the same time has a clear vision of the future."
For the Fall/Winter season, De Niro makes his second appearance together with Benjamin Millepied (choreographer of The Black Swan). The French ballet dancer and choreographer, a longtime friend of Zegna's artistic director Alessandro Sartori and husband to Natalie Portman, had never met De Niro prior to filming this project. Following the same documentary-style concept, Sartori and filmmaker Francesco Carrozzini initiated a dialogue between De Niro and Millepied as they enjoy a stroll in New York City and discuss various milestones in their careers revolving around the Big Apple.
The shift from traditional advertising to an experimental project like this puts Zegna in the forefront of brands which know how consumers tick. Digital media has remoulded the advertising scene completely, which means that companies have a vested interest in transforming the relationship between the brand and buyer into something more personal, making the brands more human in the process. Which explains why advertising monologues have now evolved into a more conversational format.
Sartori puts the campaign into perspective when he says that part of Zegna's story "is defined by the people who wear it - people around the world from different generations and with different experience(s)." In the De Niro and Millepied narrative, there is not a single mention of a product whatsoever, and yet as we learn more about them, we subconsciously notice what they're wearing, how they are styled, and how their clothes match their personality so charmingly, and so naturally. It's not just great advertising - it's a good story to tell.