Visitors of Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue may have been surprised Thursday night to find rapper A$AP Ferg performing among the displays of diamond rings and silver bracelets, part of a live show to celebrate the launch of the company’s first jewelry collection under its new creative director, Reed Krakoff.
Joined by actress Elle Fanning, A$AP Ferg kicked off the concert with a cover of “Moon River,” the ballad famously sung by Audrey Hepburn in the film “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.” The duet was part of a larger partnership with Spotify, which Tiffany teamed with to grant exclusive streaming rights for the debut of the song. According to Ashley Barrett, vp of global public relations at Tiffany, the “Moon River” cover has been streamed more than 100,000 times since it was released Friday morning and was featured on iTunes Best of the Week.
Thursday night’s show, which was also streamed on Facebook Live, served as the culmination of a series of events and a strategic social media revamp intended to tease the new collection, titled Paper Flowers. Beyond collaborating with Spotify, Tiffany made a significant statement when it deleted all of the Instagram posts on its official page prior to April 28. At that point, it resumed posting with an aesthetically cohesive set of black and white photos, a rebranding move used by the likes of luxury peers including Calvin Klein and Saint Laurent.
“By going dark on Instagram, we helped our followers absorb the gravity of this launch for Tiffany – our first fine jewelry launch in years, our first-ever musical collaboration and our first musical performance at our iconic New York City Flagship store,” said Barrett.
The campaign marks the latest push in the 181-year-old brand’s quest for reinvention, an effort largely centered on investing in efforts intended to appeal to younger shoppers. In order to mitigate slumping sales in recent years, Tiffany brought on new talent such as former Vogue creative director Grace Coddington and Krakoff, who was appointed chief artistic director last year, after leaving his role at Coach where he built the brand into a bonafide handbag empire. Under new leadership, Tiffany began to experiment with a less-stuffy-design approach than its traditional look, adding a touch of whimsy intended for both formal and casual occasions. At the same time, the company tested new forms of advertising that enlisted the help of celebrity ambassadors like Lady Gaga, in hopes of resonating with millennial and Gen-Z audiences.
The strategy is starting to pay off: In 2017, Tiffany reported a 4 percent increase in global sales, with an uptick of 3 percent in comparable sales in the fourth quarter, compared to 2016. Now the company is looking to build upon the momentum in the form of new partnerships with buzzy companies like Spotify. “Partnering with Spotify furthers our larger digital efforts by placing Tiffany at the cultural forefront, engaging new channels to reach new audiences,” said Barrett.
However, not everyone has been so keen on the changes. During the Facebook Live broadcast of A$AP Ferg’s performance, viewers shared mixed thoughts on the ongoing rebrand, including several commenters who expressed offense at the rapper’s explicit lyrics. When asked about concerns over alienating its core demographic, Barrett said A$AP Ferg was selected due to his connection to the brand as a New York native.
Still, Erich Joachimstahler, founder and CEO of Vivaldi Group, said Tiffany should exercise caution in taking extremes to engage with new consumers, as “brands are not built through shock treatment.”
“Tiffany did what it needed to do, that is to try to stay relevant with the younger audience. They missed the boat by a mile and should have been a bit more careful,” he said.