You’d think it was a guaranteed winner, but the “About Love” publicity campaign with Jay-Z and Beyoncé is causing quite a stir. A recipe, in other words, for total success…
By Sandrine Merle.
The traditional press is over the moon: the revival of the American jeweler Tiffany owned by the French group LVMH and orchestrated by Alexandre Arnault (Bernard Arnault’s successor) is a triumph. And they’ve whipped up plenty of buzz – take the April Fool’s announcement on social networks about the replacement of its signature blue by yellow or the excellent slogan “Not your mother’s Tiffany”. This latest coup entitled “About Love”, with Beyoncé and Jay-Z, is a masterstroke: an intricate blend of happenings and allusions. This is the first time the couple has posed together for an advertising campaign. She wears the famous 128.54 carat yellow diamond belonging to Tiffany with a black dress, an obvious nod to Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany”. Meanwhile, the rapper-producer, in Basquiat cosplay, sports the Schlumberger brooch. In the background, the “Equals Pi” painting by the artist Basquiat, bought by the jeweler for the blue color that matches its own. We can already imagine the work majestically displayed in the 5th Avenue boutique currently under construction (reopening planned for 2022). Not to mention the applause generated by the creativity, the “ultra-glam” and all the associated symbols. With this campaign, Tiffany & Co. continues its commitment to minorities: not only is Beyoncé the first black woman to wear this diamond, but the jeweler is also donating 2 million dollars to historically Black Colleges and Universities. All of which will no doubt appeal to a more diversified and younger generation-Z clientele.
On social networks, the tone is less accommodating, with some awkward questions being raised. The purchase of this painting, whose price has not been revealed but which many museums cannot afford, raises the question of access to art and the use of works for commercial ends. Some are of the opinion that Basquiat must be turning in his grave. But such controversy is nothing new – witness the Murakami-inspired Louis Vuitton bags or worse still, those printed with the Mona Lisa, as well as the Pinault and Arnault foundations. As for the choice of this couple to celebrate love… overpriced billionaires Jay-Z and Beyoncé are “only in it for the money”. In fact, LVMH has just bought a 50% stake in Armand de Brignac, Jay-Z’s champagne brand. Beyoncé has also been criticized for endorsing a blood diamond “stolen” from South Africa in 1877 during the colonial period. Should we take sides? Critical minds have long known that the “capitalism of seduction” works on such blatant instrumentalisation. This campaign abolishes all the usual polarities in representation: institution/counterculture, art/money, 5th Avenue/Underground, WASP culture/Black Lives Matter, Baby Boomers/Generations Y and Z, etc – the quintessence of capitalism. But let the polemicists not forget: controversy is the best publicity they can give to Tiffany, and it’s free.
All of which makes “About Love” an unqualified success.