Sponsored content can be difficult for brands to achieve. It’s not typically in their DNA to produce content and it can be a fine line between story-telling and feeling like traditional advertising. But Cartier is one brand betting big on it.
When the French luxury jewelry house re-opened its flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York this month, it made sure that the big moment didn’t go unnoticed online. Cartier did this by hiring The New York Times and Business Insider to produce sponsored content around the two-and-a-half year restoration project, as well as incorporating the brand’s history in the storytelling using text, photographs and 360-degree video.
Cartier worked with T Brand Studio, the Times’ in-house agency, to run a collage of new and old images of New York and the Cartier building. “A Classic Landmark for the Modern Age,” the title reads. The user scrolls down through brief paragraphs of Cartier’s history before reaching a 360 degree video which shows the Cartier building sitting on the corner of 5th Avenue and 52nd Street. The video allows viewers to look up and down the avenue as it transitions through the early 1900s to the 1970s to today. Among the other content is text and images revealing the lavish interior of the store, what is on each of the four levels, information about other iconic buildings on Fifth Avenue appear, and a collection of old archived articles on Cartier.
The New York Times content included a 360 video showing the Cartier building over time.
On Business Insider, Cartier worked with the publisher’s in-house content team to produce a video on five of the classic styles of watches and their origin.
“It [sponsored content] allows us to remain in the reader’s environment and provide them with an opportunity to interact with Cartier,” Cartier’s North American president and CEO Mercedes Abramo said in an email. “We are giving them the option to do so versus forcing it.”
L2’s associate research director Reid Sherard said many luxury brands in the jewelry and watch space have been slow to transition the luxury feeling of their brands to online, but he noted Cartier along with Tiffany’s as two of the leaders. “It’s an interesting mix with new and old historical content. A lot of text, digital video, and interactive features. It gives an immersive feel.”
In recent years the brand has focused on sponsored content and is tapping into a broad range of publishers and audiences. This year alone it has partnered with Refinery29, GQ, WhoWhatWear and PureWow. Abramo wouldn’t say what percentage of its advertising is sponsored content, but said partnering with a range of different publishers is about reaching different audiences and demographics, and having a different tone with each piece.
She said the brand works with publishing partners to create the video and written content, which is decided depending on the audience, platform and the purpose of the ad campaign.
The GQ series, “The Success Project, What Drives a Man?” features a range of Q-and-A style interviews with “accomplished men” from actor Norman Reedus to basketballer Chris Paul. The long thread of interviews is broken up with photoshoots centered around their watches and “shop the looks” of the men’s favorite Cartier items like belts and cufflinks.
In contrast, the Refinery 29 interview with New York-based poet and Instagram personality, Cleo Wade, is skewed towards teenage females. Readers scroll through a Q-and-A accompanied by photos of Wade with different Cartier jewelry, which can be bought at the bottom of the page.
Cartier is no stranger to large-scale advertising. In 2012, it spent two years and $5.3 million producing a three-and-a-half minute short video, “Odyssee de Cartier,” focused on its history. The film follows Cartier’s symbol, a panther, around the world. The different settings, a horse and carriage, a golden dragon, and the jewelry and diamonds sprinkled throughout it, gives the film a fairy-tale like feeling. The landing page which the film lives on offers behind the scenes footage and links to Cartier boutiques around the world.
Like any advertiser, Sherard said Cartier’s choice of publishers for sponsored content is chosen carefully. “It’s targeting a wide audience in hopes they’ll aspire people at different price ranges to save up or visit them,” he said. “They’re targeting high income publications the same way they would buy print ads in a handful of magazines targeted towards high incomes.”
Traditionally, luxury brands are built around exclusivity and many have shied away from pouring resources into websites, online shopping and advertising, but that is beginning to change. According to the agency Zenith, high luxury jewelry and watch brands spent 17 percent of last year’s ad budgets on digital, which is forecast to grow to 20.4 percent next year. Both television and magazines percentages, at 32.8 percent and 25 percent respectively in 2015, will fall slightly in 2017.
Abramo said sponsored content is about meeting consumers where they are. “Whether you’re flipping through pages of a glossy magazine or you’re on your phone browsing Instagram, people stop to appreciate and experience something special, whatever the medium may be.”