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Making Alliances Work For The Luxury Brand With the advent of social media and the massive reach potential it has when utilized correctly, the recruitment of influencers as a means of promoting luxury products and services is increasingly prevalent.

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Actor George Clooney in an advertisement for Omega.

With the advent of social media and the massive reach potential it has when utilized correctly, the recruitment of influencers as a means of promoting luxury products and services is increasingly prevalent. This modern day phenomenon is unavoidable as our days are consumed with tweets, posts and selfies in the most impossibly-beautiful locations, in perfect magical light, wearing the lust-have covetables of the season! At the end of the day, brands -both established couture Houses and indie label newcomers alike- are all vying for the attention of people; their potential customers, and who better than the most revered and idolized people to act as the catalysts? Brands are now faced with the question of who to approach that can properly represent their online and offline aims. Who is the most suitable individual for the role, and do they truly reflect the brand ethos?

It's a crucial decision that can either propel a brand to infinite stardom, or adversely banish it to the deepest depths of Internet oblivion. Take for example the likes of Limitless-fame Bradley Cooper who smoldered both onscreen and off for Magnum Ice Cream prompting women across the globe to snap up the velvety indulgence. And lest we forget David Beckham, one of the most famous crossover athletes on earth, promising instant superstar status to Haig-drinkers everywhere. On the other side of the coin, there are the numerous celebrities who promote health and exercise brands, caught on camera by lurking paparazzi as they walk to the park cigarette prominently in hand. Or the supermodels that support PETA, yet they're photographed sporting fur on an evening out. Clearly, brands need to do their homework before they opt for the influencer strategy, especially since the bigger the reach, the costlier the alliance can get.

Our strategy at The Qode has personalized communication for luxury brands with its end-to-end services, including tailored event planning, diverse publishing channels, and exclusive VIP guest lists. The Qode, leveraging our personal contacts and extensive experience in the industry, serves the MENA region's US$6.7 billion luxury retail market, projected to grow annually between 10% and 15%, and we have secured noteworthy clients in the GCC and specifically in the UAE, including Sephora, Louis Vuitton, Berluti, Kiehl's, and Moda Operandi.

In identifying a suitable collaboration, there are some facets of influencer alliances that we take into consideration when matching luxury brands to influencers:

1. Find The Right Fit

Is the individual suitable for the brand? Does the influencer have the necessary attributes that best highlight the message of the brand? These are crucial considerations in the process of setting out niche luxury marketing. As highlighted before, a bad fit could cause irreversible damage to the stature of a brand when an ambassador or friend of the brand is publicly seen flouting the guidelines and calling into question brand credibility. It is all too easy to engage an ambassador for a fee, but is he or she someone who is true to your brand image? One notorious example is Paris Hilton- she can be engaged at the drop of a hat and is certain to garner attention, but regretfully causes more negative publicity than positive due to her lifestyle choices.

2. Establish Method And Delivery

In what way do you want to engage the ambassador to promote your product? The brand needs to define both the vehicles and the methods in which the ambassador engages with the brand. What channels will they employ to convey the message and their love for the product or service? Social media is king, and Instagram is arguably one of the most effective platforms in the world of online promotion platforms. With the power to sell anything from haute couture to flawless VS1 diamonds, Instagram is instant gratification for the luxe-hungry, and a clever and well-governed campaign will ensure that your chosen ambassador is credible in their promotion to the correct audience. Bloggers and Instagram phenomena like Watch Anish and Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty have revolutionized the way an ordinary person can be sought-after. Influencers can make people want to buy a product by the way they present it, in their own special and personalized way, as opposed to corporate campaigns which are sometimes soulless and alienate the target consumer. That is really why the blogger sensation has a firm grasp on its influence on retail, retailers, consumers, and just plain ordinary folk craving a jaunt into the extraordinary.

3. Determine Alliance Timing And Duration

Two aspects are of primary relevance here: your brand message, and the staying power of the influencer. Firstly, campaign and alliance timing. How long is too long for one celebrity to promote a brand? This is dependent on the nature of the product or service, but generally a year of active support is a good time to call it quits. Like anything else, we as people are bored easily and need constant change in visual and mental stimulation to keep our interest. Too little time shows a lack of commitment and therefore a lack of love for the brand, and too long and it's just plain boring. In terms of the second area, staying power, influencers who last longer have bigger and more loyal audiences. Bloggers and social media icons dance to a different tune, and as these are real people, longevity is key. The longer they continue with their online images, the more popular they become, and with that popularity comes the ability to reach many more people. Relatability of the influencer is also one of the important areas of consideration, and must be carefully taken into account when executing social media alliances.

Dipesh Depala & Ayman Fakoussa

Co-founders, The Qode

Dipesh Depala and Ayman Fakoussa, inducted into Endeavor in February 2015 at the 57th Endeavor International Selection Panel in Singapore, are entrepreneurs and co-founders of The Qode, an agency specializing in luxury public relations and events in the GCC. Operating mainly throughout the Middle East, Ayman and Dipesh founded The Qode in 2010 offering luxury companies in the Gulf region specially catered communication and event solutions that ensure their brands are at the forefront of the luxury consumer market. The company’s culture and experienced team have allowed it to become the  go-to firm for international brands entering the competitive Middle East luxury space. With a combined three decades of luxury market experience, Depala and Fakoussa have demonstrated a sound track record of communicating to niche clients in the MENA region.

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