Louis Vuitton in a spot of bother over print ads

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK has received complaints that print ads for Louis Vuitton created by Ogilvy and Mather suggest that the products were made by hand.

Certainly looking at this ad that shows a woman creating the lines for the folds of a wallet

and also this ad that appears to be a woman stitching a handbag

It is easy to see why there have been complaints. Especially as the copy states, “infinite patience protects each overstitch… One could say that a Louis Vuitton bag is a collection of fine details.”

However, according to marketingweek Louis Vuitton defended the campaign by saying that “their employees were not assembling pre-packed pieces but were taking individual handcrafted and hand-sewn parts through a range of hand-made stages to reach a final item.”

Louis Vuitton added that the use of hand sewing machines and associated tasks were “part and parcel of what would amount to ’handmade’ in the 21st century”.

So handmade doesn’t actually mean handmade in the traditional sense?

If that is the case does that mean then that the iconic hand made Hermes Birkin bag that can cost anything from US$10,000 to well over US$100,000 isn’t actually hand made?

Does this mean that the animal skins used in a Birkin bag are not actually spread out on the floor of the processing room and screened by a number of artisans before being measured and cut by hand as required?

Does this mean that the bottom of the handbag is not sown by hand to the front and back with waxed linen threads?

Does this mean that the handle of the Birkin bag is not manually stitched until the shape comes to the fore?

Does this mean then that the artisans don’t use sand paper to smooth rough edges? And does it mean therefore that hot wax is not applied to the handles to protect them from moisture?

And all the effort that goes into the front flap, the metal and lock is not actually done by hand?

Does it mean that the craftsmen in France that all work out of the little lane in Paris don’t actually exist?

And advertising agencies wonder why 76% of consumers don’t believe that companies tell the truth in advertisements. In Malaysia that figure is 86%!

The number one element in any relationship is trust. If a brand wants to build a relationship with a consumer, that consumer must be able to trust the brand.

An element of doubt in communications is not a good way to build trust.


5 thoughts on “Louis Vuitton in a spot of bother over print ads

  1. I completely agree with you. Companies need to be transparent in order to deserve the consumers trust.

    I know you are not the biggest Trout and Ries fan but I feel one of their messages kind of fits here.

    Don’t confuse the consumer wonder about what you do. (paraphrased lol)

    Creating a Diet Coke category. Does this mean that normal Coke makes me fat?

    Showing ads featuring ‘handmade’ articles while it is unclear if the products actually are handmade.


    1. Hi Dennis

      As you know, I am a regular reader of your blog and am honoured that you have taken the time to comment on my blog.

      Trust is key in any relationship. I believe that there will be significant long term implications of this serious misjudgement.

      I was/am a big fan of Trout & Ries and the concept of positioning. It redefined the business of marketing and still has a role to play for a few companies in a few sectors but for the majority it has had its day.

      In fact, it is because of the increasingly inneffectiveness of positioning and other mass economy one size fits all tactics that companies are becoming increasingly desperate and as a result, resorting to deception.


  2. Another point worth debating is why did they decide to focus on ‘hand made’? The price tags on some of these items would indicate that they are all ‘very well made’ so I’m not sure what they’re trying to achieve. The key averages for items like this are superior materials, superior construction. I hardly think people would pop into one these stores asking ‘I’ll just see if the quality is ok’. It would be more a question of ego and indulgence – will it make me look good? etc.

    I think for some people these days ‘hand made’ can indicate an inconsistency of quality, rather than high quality. Japan led the way with vehicle manufacturing as little of the processes were done by hand – so we may be a bit past the hand made angle these days as a point of difference anyway (whether it’s true or not).


  3. Hi Hamish

    Great points well made.

    The ‘Made in’ tag or country of origin factor has always been a critical element of luxury branding and it is common knowledge (isn’t it?) that LV products are made in France and Italy so it does make it harder to understand what it is they are trying to achieve.

    Add in the fact that hand made luxury products are normally associated with artisans who have learned their trade over many years, the use of a model who has had an over long encounter with photoshop and the whole message is confusing and inconsistent.

    FWIW I think the brand is seen as a low quality luxury brand (if you know what I mean) but would like to be in the Hermes bracket and as a result is trying to position itself as such.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.