This week, a look at the implications of an AI campaign captivating the fashion community. Scroll down to use Glossy+ Comments, giving the Glossy+ community the opportunity to join discussions around industry topics.
At this point, you’ve no doubt seen the social media posts of Jacquemus’s Le Bambino bag-shaped buses driving down the streets of Paris. You did a double-take and maybe joined the thousands of people commenting on the genius of the out-of-home activation. That is, unless you were early to realize it was the work of a 3D digital artist, exclusively made for social. Plenty of people stopped scrolling, but nobody stopped in their tracks to capture the viral video.
It was genius, all the same, the fashion set has ruled.
Since being posted on Wednesday, the post has inspired marketers, cued new implications about fashion marketing’s direction and AI’s impact, and shed light on current digital capabilities and consumer interests, including around IRL brand moments.
“Jacquemus created something that cut through the noise,” Angelic Vendette, global head of marketing at Alo Yoga, told Glossy. On Thursday, Vendette, who also founded an NFT company and spearheads Alo’s web3 activations, shared the Jacquemus post on her personal Linkedin account, along with a caption that concluded with, “Who says it needs to be real to go viral?”
As of Saturday morning, Jacquemus’s post of the artwork, which the brand shared across its social channels, had 11.2 million views, 1.4 million likes, 208,000 shares and 8,500 comments on TikTok. On Instagram, it had attracted 840,000 likes and 9,000 comments. Google searches for the brand, the Le Bambino bag and “Jacquemus ad campaign” had reportedly skyrocketed, with the latter seeing a 900% boost in the 24 hours following the post.
There are themes across the social comments and stitched videos, with one being iterations of “They’ve done it again,” pointing to Jacquemus’s history of turning out innovative and impactful marketing activations. On that note, TikTok’s marketing influencers wasted no time before dissecting the post’s success. And of course, considering the post’s backdrop, there are comparisons to the fashion marketing ideas of the title character in “Emily in Paris.”
But there was also a trend of misinformation across posts, with many TikTokers and Instagrammers assuming the mobile bags were real and subsequently spreading the word. For example, @romy_talks_fashion (77,000 followers) captioned a TikTok with, “Using the bambino bag as a bus tour around paris, it’s so genius, it’s so Jacquemus.” While the brand did tag Ian Padgham, the video artist behind the post, in its Instagram, its TikTok includes no tags or references to its digital creation. One could argue that the caption is misleading: “Giant Bambino bags heading to the Opéra Garnier,” it reads. Neither Jacquemus nor Padgham responded to a request for comment.
The same course of events played out in August 2021, when Zara shared to its social channels what appeared to be its SoHo store transformed into an aquarium of colorful, swirling balls. Rather than question whether the viral post was entirely contrived, most viewers assumed the effect was the result of digital screens in the store’s front windows playing 3D videos. Zara’s post read, “Walking through our Soho store.” People visited the store to see it, later posting, “It got me down there! Then I realized it was just a TikTok!” Shane Fu, the motion design artist behind the post, said at the time that more fashion brands had reached out to him after seeing the post. In October 2022, he posted a video of a project he’d done for Burberry, featuring an oversized Lola bag in the middle of a street, its faux fur seemingly blowing in the breeze.
Other digital artworks that have recently puzzled fashion fans include Andrés Reisinger’s imagery of pink fluff-encased store exteriors.
The Instagram of Padgham, the artist who worked with Jacquemus, shows that he’s created like-minded works — blending familiar locations with his surrealist, branded creations — for fashion companies including ReDone, Bershka and Gucci, for its Vault business.
Speaking about the long-term, “deep consequences” of artificial intelligence in March, Hellen Katherine, marketing manager at integrated marketing agency MG Empower, said. “The technology is going to be able to create videos of things that never happened, as if they had happened, and how are we going to deal with that?”
Clearly, it’s already happening — and for now, it’s at least causing some confusion.
According to Vendette, “We will get to a place where brands will have to disclose that things were created with AI or are a 3D rendering.” She pointed out that Jacquemus is a French brand and, in France, brands must already disclose when a model featured in a brand’s marketing has been Photoshopped, even in out-of-home ads.
But the pros of such digital capabilities far outweigh the cons, according to the industry executives interviewed for this story. For one, they enable brands to create impactful organic content, at a time when the power of ad dollars has been diminished.
“Capturing the shopper’s attention is becoming increasingly hard, so now, brands are scrambling,” said Meghana Dhar, advisor to retail tech companies including ShopShops and former head of shopping partnerships at Instagram. She referenced the changes to the iOS 14 operating system and the resulting loss of ad efficacy. “[Brands] are now finding creative ways to get attention through collaborations, installations, pop-ups and creators, versus through ads.”
Regarding brands’ current preference for over-the-top takes on those opportunities, she said, “The whole point of earned media, versus paid, is to get to virality.”
As for other recent social media moments by fashion brands beyond Jacquemus, both Vendette and Dhar listed the buzz surrounding Louis Vuitton’s revisited collaboration with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The big difference, of course, is that the larger-than-life figures of Kusama being used to promote the collection have actually existed. She’s towered over Louis Vuitton stores, she’s popped up in a Tokyo pop-up, and she’s “painted” Harrods, among other appearances.
There was also Louis Vuitton’s statue in Miami honoring Virgil Abloh, not to mention Coperni’s viral moment of applying a spray-on dress to Bella Hadid during its spring 2023 runway show. Vendette compared the basis for the dress’s virality to Jacquemus’s digital buses, in that both represent “innovation being applied to fashion to make you think and reflect.”
Vendette argued that innovating should be an acceptable goal of a marketing activation, as should testing, learning and connecting with an audience. Along the same lines, it can be more about making a statement than driving traffic or sales. “Out-of-home activations often make waves beyond fashion, including in the art world, in the city where they take place and in culture at large,” Vendette said.
Vendette said the “Jacquebuses,” as they’ve been labeled, would have been even more impactful had they been physically executed; they’d have been captured and shared by Parisians and, if well-timed, members of the press visiting the city. (Jacquemus hosted an experiential activation for its Le Bambino bags at Galeries Lafayette during Paris Fashion Week last month.) At the same time, she confirmed that a 3D rendering is less costly than an out-of-home activation — which is something to consider these days, particularly for brands not backed by a large conglomerate.
For her part, Vendette said she’s exploring every and all innovation as she develops marketing ideas for Alo Yoga. That includes working to understand “how AI and 3D renderings can be applied” to her day-to-day. And, she said, she has no fear when it comes to AI taking over marketing jobs.
“The way AI and 3D design can help you to ideate and then bring something to life supercharges creative teams and marketers to create something meaningful and different,” she said, adding, “Jacquemus did not create this in true out-of-home style, but they certainly could have.”
All in all, the Jacquebuses and other recent fashion moments prove a consumer appetite for out-of-home, 3D and otherwise innovative brand marketing. Call it a rejection of the reigning, raw TikTok aesthetic. At the same time, this suggests that the demand may only represent a trend versus the future.
“Right now, you have to have a bit of a flair for the dramatic or the avant-garde to capture attention,” said Dhar. “But you can’t keep doing this forever, because then the avant-garde is going to become the normal, and then the baseline is going to get reset.”