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THE EVOLUTION OF LUXURY ADVERTISING

Just a hundred years ago there was little need for luxury advertising. The market for luxury products was tiny and prior to mass production the selection of items available was small – if you wanted a product and had the means you invariably knew just where to get it.

Fast forward to 2013 and the biggest producer of luxury brands, LVMH, attracted £9.5 billion in sales. The market for luxury goods has clearly grown exponentially in the intervening decades, with a plethora of brands springing up or expanding to meet theinsatiable demand of newly minted millionaires in developing economies like Russia and China.

Morlands’ advertising has also changed significantly throughout the 20th century and into this one, as the company has moved from offering high quality functional apparel to delivering an aspirational fashion-led product range.

Early branding and advertising has had a big role to play in the development of the high profits luxury brands make today. So how did advertising begin, and how does Morlands’ experience marry with the changes we have seen over the years?

Advertising has been around since the dawn of business, with some of the earliest (and perhaps most primitive) forms coming from the "criers" of Babylonia, estimated to date from around 3000 B.C. They would take to the streets with their merchandise, shouting out to promote their wares.

Since then, advertising has changed rather drastically. One of the earliest examples of print advertising as we know it today was produced by the Catholic Church in 1472. The Church created a print ad that was sold in their prayer books. Years later the first newspapers began printing advertisements offering rewards for stolen items.

By 1758, the use of advertising had sky rocketed. In fact, they had become so prevalent that Samuel Johnson observed in his magazine the Idler in 1759: “advertisements are now so numerous that they are very negligently perused.”

In the 1800s the first luxury advertisements were created with all the attention going to the headline in an attempt to stand out from the masses.

When the industrial revolution began advertising was given a renewed lease of life. More machines meant more products and more diverse products, could be readily produced and led to a range of advertising styles as businesses strived to make a statement in ever crowded market places.

The 20th century saw the introduction of strong branding. Companies began to create uniform marketing messages to be used across a series of advertisements. Paper-based adverts became heavily text and image-based.

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In 1905 Rolls Royce created a catalogue to show its range of vehicles. In an era when catalogues and brochures were more likely to be published for practical items such as farm machinery, a heavily promotional brochure for luxury items was ground-breaking.

In 1911 Woodbury facial soap created a set of advertisements incorporating the strapline ‘A skin you love to touch’ accompanied by images of admired, elegant women. In doing so Woodbury became the first company to use sex appeal to sell their brand and saw sales soar once the campaign launched. 

By 1920 the US advertising industry (the most developed in the world) was worth almost $3billion.

The branding boom continued as companies created a series of advertisements for different platforms to create more impact.

In 1941 the first paid TV broadcast was aired during a baseball game for Bulova watches.

Post-war Morlands advertising played on the connection between the company and the war effort, describing how the business had learnt from creating garments for servicemen and women. Advertising was austere in the years immediately after World War II – with many consumers still struggling for access to the most straightforward products and services.

But as the 1950s dawned, the company took a different tack. Starved of luxury goods due to rationing the company played up the benefits and luxury of its products.

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As consumer confidence began to grow and the post-war British economy found a more positive footing adverts began to focus on the lifestyle associated with wearing Moorlands boots. A significant shift that would change the tone of the brand’s advertising on an ongoing basis.

In 1950 Moorlands created a Ladies boots advert shown in Ideal Home magazine. Alongside this, a newly designed advert was featured in Punch magazine. 

In 1950 Moorlands created a Ladies boots advert shown in Ideal Home magazine. Alongside this, a newly designed advert was featured in Punch magazine.

The 1960s and 70s were decades defined by cultural change and a focus on fashion. And the era so famously depicted by the Mad Men TV series was a formative one for advertising.

The advent of the focus group, and a new found creativity led by a generation that had experienced those cultural developments, led to a new found confidence and dynamism in advertising. Straplines became less literal and the product often began to take a back seat to the lifestyle and choices of the consumer purchasing it.

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In 1969 Zenith created the ‘Zenith remains in the lead’ advertisement to promote its automatic chronograph El primo watch.

The El primo watch was created at a time when the watch market was dominated by quartz movements, and it was the first advert to directly challenge competitors on a point of competitive difference.

It had and immediate and lasting impact.

“By focusing on the product, and only the product, it is a testimony of the trust of the Manufacture in its new flagship product” described a spokesperson from Zenith. 

This led to other high-end watch makers creating automatic chronographic watches just weeks after the el primo advertisement was launched.

Morlands referenced the prioritisation of style over fashion in this 1970s advert, proclaiming: “A reminder that the boots you buy this winter should do more than just look good.”

The statement that Morlands stands for quality, style and luxury is also apparent in the strapline of the period: Look rich Longer.

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The 1980’s saw a progression with more photo-realistic and cinematic adverts used in magazines, a reflection of how TV advertising had begun to mature as a medium. Morlands embraced the development with a series of adverts that visualised the romance of its products.

The use of advertising has continued to rapidly grow to allow luxury brands to differentiate themselves from crowded markets. For Morlands offline advertising still remains important, but the online world now occupies a significant position in the marketing mix. Digital marketing now plays a massive role in the sale of goods – opening up new frontiers and allowing brands to export across the globe with relative ease.

This trend is apparent for Morlands, and an ecommerce presence means the brand sells its sheepskin products to consumers across the world.

ENDS