Celebrating timelessness: the epitome of transmedia storytelling

Sandra Krim

By Sandra Krim01 février 2022

The narrative force of luxury brands constitutes a major asset in terms of symbolic value. Using transmedia storytelling enables to efficiently target all audiences and finds its epitome when brands glorify timelessness. Celebrations of Louis Vuitton’s bicentennial, the centennial of Gucci or even of the mythical Chanel n°5 perfume are striking examples.

The strength of transmedia storytelling resides in its capacity to develop brand visibility while increasing target engagement and emotional attachment, as well as client loyalty. Here, the actress Marion Cotillard wears the 55.55 necklace which expresses all the codes of
of Chanel's N°5 fragrance. (Chanel)

A transversal concept related to the double phenomenon of diversification and media convergence, transmedia narration or “transmedia storytelling” was born in the media and cultural sciences academic research field. Originally defined in the works of reference “Convergence Culture” (2006) by Henry Jenkins, transmedia narration can initially be understood as a development method of fictional or entertainment pieces by using several types of media to develop coherent as well as complementary narrative elements to create a unified and coordinated experience (Marvel series, Star Wars, Harry Potter saga, etc.).

The history of Louis Vuitton was marked by an epic quest: Louis, a 14-year-old boy, left his family home. For the celebration of
its 200th anniversary, the House was inspired by this journey to develop a platform game open to all and transgenerational (Louis Vuitton)

Applied to marketing, the transmedia storytelling concept can be used in brand narrative universes. This strategy is particularly adapted to luxury brands, whose narrative density (concerning brands, products, corporate, etc.) enables them to get optimal effects.

Standing out from cross-media storytelling, which uses the same communication elements via different media, the strength of transmedia storytelling resides in its capacity to develop brand visibility while increasing target engagement and emotional attachment, as well as client loyalty, through the convergence of content and of different mediums such as print or online press, cinema, television, internet brand websites, social media (which can propose different content) applications and podcasts, gaming, metaverse

Transmedia storytelling: an ever more immersive strategy

A trunk - Louis Vuitton's most emblematic object - is transformed into several artistic pieces to celebrate the House's bicentennial. Artists have been given carte blanche to create without limits. Here the trunck by Pierre Yovanovitch (Louis Vuitton)

Louis Vuitton’s bicentennial, celebrated in 2021, is a major demonstration of it: luxury house teams have created a polymorphic celebration (museum exhibition, artistic collaborations, online game “Louis the Game”, etc.) around the narrative concept entitled “Louis 200”, thus creating a complex and unified universe, enabled to create and / or develop the consumer’s relationship to the brand.

Apart from production and creation aspects, luxury brands’ strategy with transmedia storytelling is focused on four main challenges: three challenges specific to transmedia storytelling, culture or marketing, as well as a challenge specific to luxury brand communication.

The first challenge specific to transmedia storytelling is by essence narrative, as it relies on coherence between the different narrative elements. It involves technological and temporal challenges. The temporal issue consists in unveiling transmedia extensions of a main narrative or different narratives at the right time to ensure the coherence of the narrative universe. As to the technological challenge, it also relies on the need for coherence, which implies that each transmedia element be led by the most relevant support or technology. 

Timelessness: a disconnection to immediate commercial offers

Transmedia storytelling in luxury brands must be ever more responsive to a specific marketing challenge: in order to be optimal, it needs not to be too commercial, too focused towards the transactional aspect, but on the contrary, needs to focus on consumers’ relationships with the brand.

Gucci celebrated the centenary with immersive experiences and a music playlist of titles featuring the brand, available on Spotify and Apple Music (Gucci)

That is why celebrating luxury timelessness, which is disconnected from the commercial offer, allows transmedia storytelling to unravel, as this was the case for the Gucci centennial, which proposed immersive experiences in pop-up stores or online, as well as a music playlist of titles mentioning the brands, available on Spotify and Apple Music.

By moving consumers’ perception from luxury products and the commercial sphere to a cultural sphere, through transmedia storytelling luxury brands integrate both experiential, as well as cultural and informational dimensions which constitute a coordinated narrative universe, made coherent by the symbolic power of the brand, or sometimes of an iconic product.

Indeed, the hundredth anniversary of Chanel’s N°5 was the opportunity for the brand to optimize all its soft power weapons and to showcase both its own iconicness and the perfume’s, supposedly worn by Marylin Monroe and whose mythical bottle led Andy Warhol to create an acrylic.

On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Chanel N° 5, the luxury house demonstrated the power and strength of perfectly orchestrated symbols, testimony of its rich know-how (Chanel)

From the highly semiotic advertising campaign – embodied by Marion Cotillard – to the elegant book collection dedicated to the famous fragrance, the luxury house demonstrated the power and strength of perfectly orchestrated symbols, testimony of its rich know-how. The climax of this celebration is without a doubt the frenzy on social media for the unveiling of the spectacular High Jewelry collection dedicated to the event. The most sumptuous pieces of this “N°5 Collection”, and which has most raised the web’s engagement, is a diamond necklace (reserved to the house’s heritage) inspired by the silhouette of the famous bottle and unveiling at its center an octagonal diamond of 55.55 carats.

Transmedia storytelling strategies for celebrating timelessness - which uses the aura and legitimacy of luxury houses – allows brands to optimize the use of their narrative and heritage richness. 

It is certain that the metaverse will soon be a new field for creating this type of communication strategy. The future of transmedia strategy for luxury brands looks ever more experiential, immersive and interactive for consumers.

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