Picking the right marketing manner is not an easy task, especially in the realm of haute couture, and it gets even more complicated as the person at the helm decides to set an exhibition, since the latter is considered a completely different promotion method. However, the above-mentioned does not mean that fashion exhibitions are ruled by their own laws and do not follow the traditional marketing standards; quite on the contrary, all the promotion laws come into full force in fashion exhibitions and are, perhaps, even more powerful than in the everyday commercials. In the given paper, the elements of communicational mix of a comparatively recent event which took place in Somerset House of London and was Valentino’s exhibition, are going to be discussed. Once seeing the way in which a marketing communications mix works, one will be able to understand the ways in which a communications mix works, as well as to realize how to use it so that it could fulfil its entire potential. In the given report, the communication methods which are used in Valentino’s recent show are being discussed and evaluated.
Despite the fact that the event in question, that is, Valentino’s Master Couture exhibition in England, certainly lacked some of the marketing elements, with the help of unique arrangement and the efficient use of promotion strategies, Valentino managed to convey several messages and create an efficient communication mix.
Essay Goal, Objectives and Thesis Statement
Before going any further, one must offer the analysis of Valentino’s presumable strategic goals. In addition, the target market must be defined. With these two elements in mind, one can assess the progress of the event objectively.
It is obvious that Valentino’s strategic goal was to capture the audience’s attention. Using his new collection as a kind of a lightning in a bottle, Valentino has made an attempt to climb even higher to the haute couture peak; and, one must admit, so far, he succeeds quite well (Gilbert, 2012).
Obviously, there is no room for the ones with no money in shorts in Valentino’s show; the target audience consists only of the people who have a lot of money. However, it would be wrong to state that Valentino’s Master of Couture will be a perfect place to visit for any rich man.
When it comes to considering the key issues which a communication mix of such scale as the one in question must incorporate, three specific screens must be involved, that is, the marketing screen, the operations screen and the financial screen. According to what the existing reports on the event say, Valentino managed to nail down two of these elements; to be more exact, the operations screen and the financial screen. However, speaking of the marketing screen, some of the issues do not seem to align with the traditional understanding of what a communication mix is supposed to offer. To understand what needs further improvements, if any are required at all, one must analyse some of the issues concerning the communication mix of the Master of Couture.
Communications Mix and the Methods Applied: Analysis
Having his own idea of what a communication mix should offer to the audience, Valentino seems to have changed the academic concept of the communications mix for the latter to fit the goals which the designer pursued when developing the collection (Atellier, 2012). An exhibition offers a plethora of ways to convey the key message to the public, and in Valentino’s case, most of them are used to the full. However, it is worth mentioning that some of the essential ones have also been tossed aside for the sake of the communication mix integrity.
It is important to mention that the designer has kept some of the traditional ways to covey messages during an exhibition intact (Atikenhead, 2012). To start with, the designer used the informational messages (Bodwin, Allen, Harris, McDonnell, O’Toole, 2011) to make the public aware of the event which was going to take place. Using such elements as brochures, advertisements and commercials, the designer managed to make people aware of the exhibition and its place. It is essential to mention that Valentino kept the level of public’s excitement high by offering little to no details on the contents of the show. Instead, the messages only reported when and where the exhibition was going to take place, which stirred the public’s interest and helped create the atmosphere of anticipation.
Speaking of the transformational messages which the designer also used in his event, one must mention that there were a lot of hidden innuendoes in these messages. It is quite important that there were no buy-now types of messages. On the contrary, the development of transformational messages was executed in a rather subtle way. Defined as the message which persuades the potential customer to buy a certain product (Masterman, & Wood, 2008), a transformational message is often very persistent and often annoying. However, in Valentino’s case, the transformational messages were everywhere, but they did not annoy the public. The headings of the advertisements and posters for the collection were used as the transformational messages. For example, one of the posters was titled, “Valentino retrospective: Past/present/future” (IMG). When reading the title, one would have such questions as “What is Valentino’s retrospective?”, “How did the past collections differ from the present ones?”, “What will Valentino create in future?”, etc., and making people come and see the exhibition. Therefore, the provocative headings served as transformational messages, spurring people’s excitement and keeping their interest in the exhibition.
Finally, the behavioural messages as the way to make people take certain actions (Trehan & Trehan, 2009) must be mentioned. There are a lot of messages which Valentino sends to persuade the potential audience attend the event and even buy some of the exhibits in the collection. However, one of the most efficient behavioural messages is the one which attracts future partners. Offering the latter a number of benefits and exclusive opportunities, such as the use of exhibition images, it really is a masterpiece of marketing.
One of the few problems of the communication mix which Valentino started in Somerset House is the fact that there is little to no direct verbal communication with the audience. Quite an obvious feature for a visual show, the given peculiarity predetermines the specifics of the exhibition to a great extent. Therefore, the amount of unplanned messages, which the designer could have got across with the help of verbal elements of his show, has shrunken down.
Listing the Obvious Strengths: Communications Mix
It comes as no surprise that with the help of all elements of a communications mix, one can create an extremely powerful message to promote certain services.
Needless to mention, the communication mix which Valentino prepared for the Somerset House exhibition did its job in advertising the products directly to the potential customers. However, when it comes to defining the phenomenon of direct marketing, one will inevitably see that Valentino has slightly changed the very concept. However, in shaping his event, Valentino made an important change to the direct marketing procedure, taking away the sales man and leaving more space for the product. Thus, the designer has combined the informational, transformational and behavioural messages.
As it has been mentioned before, personal selling in Valentino’s case is very original. According to the existing definition of a personal selling, the process is supposed to include the product, the potential customer and the person who is actually going to promote and finally sell the product. In Valentino’s case, the latter was not as obvious as a salesperson usually is in the course of a usual selling process. When considering the communicational mix used by Valentino in his exhibition form a C-PEST point of view, one will see that not all of the messages described above fall into their places.
|Event competition||High competitiveness due to the use of informational messages (building the suspense around the event)|
|Political environment||Political elements were not represented in the exhibition|
|Economic environment||Transformational messages of the event advertisements served to attract the future partners and sponsors|
|Socio-cultural context||The representation of the Italian fashion in the English cultural context|
|Technological issues||The emphasis on technology was rather subtle; no messages were used to stress the technological aspects.|
Considering the C-PEST diagram closer, one will have to admit that some of the C-PEST elements, e.g., the political and the technological aspects, were completely excluded from the communicational mix. On the one hand, the given approach is quite understandable, since the political issues can hardly be associated with fashion. On the other hand, it is necessary to take into account that Valentino implemented communicational mix in a completely different country which means that there should have been some elements of a political context in the mix. Considering the information about the exhibition closer, one will see the traces of political messages there as well. To start with, it is quite impressive that Valentino did not resort to his native Italian language in the course of the advertising campaign. Every single line in the brochures and adverts is written in English. Even the title of the show is in English. Hence, Valentino sends a political message. The latter says that the exhibition is taking place in London and is meant for London. The given example can also be considered as a socio-cultural message as well. In the given context, the two come quite close together. However, when considering the political and the socio-cultural context of the messages, one must admit that the messages are very subtle. Instead of saying something like “Italian fashion in London,” the messages offer the audience come to conclusions on their own. Finally, the technological aspect should also be mentioned. Even though technology must have been an integral part of the event, the communication mix does not stress the technology issue at all. Perhaps, the reasons behind this is that Valentino wants the audience to focus on the communicational elements of the mix, but not on the technology issues.
Strangely enough, an exhibition is also a part of a communications mix according to some of the existing definitions. Hence, one of the elements which communications mix involves, that is, exhibition, is taken to its extreme.
However, there is nothing bad about the fact that one of the elements of communications mix is emphasized so much. On the contrary, since the product which is going to be advertised is clothes, which presupposes that a lot of visual information must be offered to the viewers, it is necessary to make the exhibition element the focus of the show.
Despite the fact that the presence of the master of couture himself is not stressed especially and that the focus is on the collection, not the designer, Valentino still manages to stir people’s interest with the help of certain PR actions. As a matter of fact, some of these actions were even incredibly daring for a man of such great name and such famous products. Therefore, as one might have noticed, the PR moves which Valentino has undertaken so far are rather delicate yet quite bold. Even though the given step in particular seems rather bold for the haute couture designer whose works have been known for years to draw the attention of the most influential and artistic people with the finest taste, one has to admit that, creating certain stir around his new collection, Valentino has drawn more public to see his creations.
It would be unfair, though, to claim that Valentino has used only the controversial facts about his art to get people’s attention; the designer also tries to promote his work as his vision of women of the 2012, as well as women in general by using the most beautiful material and create the dresses which are going to be priceless. Therefore, one can see that Valentino also chooses a more careful strategy of public relations, putting the emphasis on the beauty and luxury of the dresses, as well as their extremely high cost, rather than making the project famous by allowing to spread gossip. Moreover, Valentino creates even more suspension around his collection by claiming that other people from the haute couture world have made their contribution to the collection as well. Therefore, the public relations element seems to be developed quite well in the promotion of the collection.
What Messages Were not Conveyed Successfully: Something to Work on
However, for those people who went completely open-minded into Valentino’s new exhibition, it was clear that there will be a number of things which some at best will consider odd. Even though the oddities which the exhibition has can be considered the elements of Valentino’s inimitable style, they still are inconsiderate from the perspective of a typical communications mix, which gives another reason to discuss them in more detail.
A technique which did not come out just as well as one might think, sales promotion should be mentioned. Incorporating all sorts of inducements and discounts such as money-off vouchers, free gifts and the items coming in two for the price of one, the model of sales promotion does not work in Valentino’s case. The clothes which the maestro offers are way too expensive and far too good to be sold with discounts and to come in two-for-the-price-of-one packages; instead, Valentino sets incredibly high prices for his creations. However, when the potential clients see the dresses and marvel at their beauty, they understand that these clothes are worth every single cent which they will pay for them.
Therefore, it cannot be considered that the sales promotion technique as an element of a marketing mix is especially successful with Valentino’s exhibition. Still, with the fame of his, the beauty of the clothes and the scale of the event, Valentino knows that the game is well worth the candles. Of course, the specifics of the event must be taken into account as well – in the exhibition world, the laws of marketing can be somewhat bent.
There is hardly anything in the modern world of sales that can survive without advertising. Advertising is the engine which powers the entire promotion machine; in Valentino’s case, the engine does not seem to be running. When considering such a necessary element of the show as the event programme, one will see literally nothing that makes people hold their breath in anticipation – the traditional red Valentino colours and the picture of the maestro of fashion himself block the audience’s view to the specific design of the dress; as a matter of fact, there is nothing special about the latter, either. While the above-mentioned might be a part of the plan as well and the people who are familiar with the designer’s artworks, for the people who came to the exhibition to get the idea of Valentino as a designer and to understand what he could offer, the event programme design was quite a weak advertisement step, for a standard advertisement programme should also include a number of other important details about the event. While the specific design of the advertisement does address the traditional Valentino style to a certain extent, it still gives no clues except for the famous Valentino red colour. Moreover, the program also does not make a strong statement about what makes the given collection different from the rest of Valentino’s works; rather a puzzle than an advertisement, it keeps the audience guessing all the time (Sponsorship/brand partnership: Valentino’s ‘master of couture’, n. d). Perhaps, this is a part of Valentino’s plan, yet it backfires greatly.
Another issue which must have frustrated a lot of people who visited the exhibition was the fact that Valentino offered little to no e-communication. To start with, the definition of direct marketing must be offered to evaluate the degree to which Valentino’s exhibition incorporated the given element into his show. Despite the fact that the elements of e-commerce are extremely important for the present-day world, in the Master of Couture exhibition, the elements of e-marketing, such as the e-mails and other related issues were nowhere to be seen. E-commerce is an extremely important element of a successful communications mix (Rogers, 2012). Thus, the fact that Valentino neglected this element means that an efficient way to convey messages was not used. However, the given issue as well as the two previously discussed ones, can be considered as a specific limitation of such an event as a fashion exhibition.
Event Analysis, Commentaries and Recommendations
Despite its numerous flaws, the marketing communications mix with all its messages which Valentino tried to convey to the audience was a complete success. In a retrospective, one must admit that the project did have its drawbacks and a lot of limitations; however, Valentino used so wisely the elements which were at his disposal that the exhibition seems to be a real triumph. Even though it is too soon to call the shots yet, one can still see that as it is now, the exhibition has already attracted a number of people, and their number is growing increasingly; therefore, it can be expected that the exhibition is going to end up with another year of boosted selling rates for Valentino.
While there is a lot to complain about the show, one must give Valentino some credit for allowing people to see the entire range of his creative ideas. In addition, it is worth mentioning that the idea with the exhibition made the public observe the new works in a well-paced manner, in contrast to fashion shows, during which fashion designers throw so much and in such fast tempo at the audience that it is hard to figure out whether there actually is a decent idea. In Valentino’s case the pace was very moderate, and the audience had ample opportunities to consider every single item of the exhibition separately.
As it has been mentioned, the success of the show owes much to the marketing communications mix which Valentino developed for his exhibition.
Speaking of the flaws, which even the most ingenious people have, be they the Einsteins of fashion, Valentino also has some in his project; even though the show has just begun, they are already evident. Of course, there is no reason to suspect that these disadvantages can threaten the success of the exhibition, yet they are still quite evident, which gives another reason to talk about them in more details. Even though there was ridiculously little of personal promotion, the event works well because of its enthralling originality. Nevertheless, one must admit that these slips are quite easy to fix – once channelling the communication with the audience in the right course, Valentino can correct these mistakes.
However, when reconsidering the slips in question, one must ask himself whether Valentino had these issues planned in advance (ValentinoMuseum 2012). On the one hand, there is an evident lack of reinforced promotion and direct communication with the audience. On the other hand, obtrusive manner of the shop assistant of the year which a lot of people use to market their products has become really obnoxious; perhaps, Valentino wanted people to take their time sinking into his world instead of having the buy-now ideas hammered into their heads.
Despite all the glamour and chick of the show, it does not seem as an attempt for a quick cash-in – in Valentino’s case, the Master of Couture exhibition is rather a chance to get in touch with the designer’s vision of what fashion should be like. Therefore, the recommendations which can possibly be offered will serve only as a means to attract more people to see the show, but not to influence people’s impression of the show. Anyway, in terms of a communications mix, the designer could use a couple of ideas on how to make his product more selling and attractive for the prospective customers (Davidson & Rogers, 2006). While some messages all flat, the rest convey the ideas which they are supposed to.
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