How Tom Ford, Lady Gaga and Nile Rodgers disrupted fashion brand storytelling

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(San Francisco) - When Nile Rodgers & CHIC began performing "I Want Your Love" at the Berkeley Greek on Friday night, we were teleported to the dance floor of our collective youth. Many of us had come for headliner Duran Duran, but Mr. Rodgers, with his storied band and powerful singers, successfully jumped from zero to light speed, working the audience into a joyful frenzy with mega hits like "Upside Down" (co-written with Diana Ross), "Get Lucky" (co-written with Pharrell), and "Let's Dance" (co-written with David Bowie).
So, it was a thrill to discover Tom Ford and Lady Gaga's new "I Want Your Love" video on Twitter the following morning. Launched Friday via TomFord.com, the video, with vocals by Gaga, re-launches Rodger's celebrated disco anthem as the soundtrack for Ford's Spring and Summer 2016 Women's collection. The scene: Lady Gaga and models of both sexes and multiple ethnicities groove à la Soul Train, up and down a runway that glows like a Saturday Night Fever dance floor. 

Why "I Want Your Love" takes brand storytelling to a new and exciting place: 

It's utterly watchable. "Do you feel like you ever want to try my love, and see how well it fits?" As Lady Gaga purrs Nile Rodgers' lyrics, inviting us into Mr. Ford's dance party, she and her models show us what Tom Ford couture feels like; how it drapes and glitters as it moves with their bodies and, ultimately, "how well it fits"; how it makes them look and feel sexy, powerful. Gaga's runway antics and vocals compliment IWYL's multiple edits and disco-like lighting, making repeat viewings a given. In this way, IWYL grabs us like a Soul Train dance line or, for that matter, a So You Think You Can Dance or Dancing with the Stars experience. Hence, the video's emotional hook. Like a fashion show audience, we're invited to become part of this shared brand experience. George Michael's "Freedom! 90" and Pet Shop Boys' "Being Boring" hinted at all of this, but IWYL appears to be a first, seamlessly moving brand, music, and fashion down the runway into conversion sans aftertaste. 

It's relatable. Tom Ford is a luxury brand, his clothing exceptionally well-made and pricey, but that doesn't really matter. At its core, IWYL is built upon a foundation of aspirational excitement, which could result in brand loyalty. After several listenings, Lady Gaga's sexy growl, the driving beat and easy to remember lyrics become mantra-like, hello sound branding. Mr. Ford chose IWYL for a reason: a sexy groove that won't let go, perfectly encapsulating the fashion brand stories his life and brand represent. IWYL is a bit like looking through a peephole, at a life or a moment most of us see as fantasy - the clothes, the experience, those friends, that glamour. However, many of us can still see ourselves dancing down that runway, feeling and looking amazing (supermodel looks or not). In this way, IWYL feels inclusive. For myself, I think of when I visited Le Boy in Paris, for "Les Incroyables".  Jean Paul Gaultier sitting with his posse at a nearby table, while models worked the runway onstage, and danced around a geeky 21 year old sur la piste. We've all had moments when we thought we were the coolest kid in the room, when we felt powerful; IWYL seems to access those feelings, providing a retail solution for some, or simply the visual inspiration to kill it, be awesome or just live in this one-of-a-kind, branded moment.

It's built for conversion. As per Mr. Ford, IWYL is an online runway show with connections to our shared past and present; IWYL's homage to the the Soul Train dance line is relatable to those of us who watched the show in the 70s and 80s or danced to CHIC as kids or adults. But this isn't just about old-timers. IWYL works for millennials, too, since it's populated by them, hitting aspirational and pop culture buttons, even as some Gaga fans wondered if this was a new song (a major victory for Mr. Rodgers and his collaborators). IWYL allows viewers to vicariously join a shared brand experience. It's still a commercial, but this viewer is happy to re-watch again and again. That's significant. I want to live in Club Tom Ford, if only for 3 minutes and 29 seconds at a time. However, many will go further, sharing IWYL looks on TomFord.com or taking digital pieces to Tom Ford boutiques for purchase.  Let the B2C relationship building begin. 

JM
Published via LinkedIn | October 5, 2015