Girls (and boys) on Film

It feels like everyone is doing video marketing, but, says lingerie photographer and film maker Gavin Kemp, you need to do it brilliantly or not at all.

Fashion and film have been interconnected since movies began, but thanks to social media sharing on the internet, video is quickly becoming one of the most important marketing tools for successful lingerie brands. In a digital world, with brands making very short, innovative films, we are currently at what could be a marketing tipping point.

In just the last month, LingerieInsight.com has featured brand videos, including Curvy Kate’s first ever video, and images from the new H&M Bodywear video starring David Beckham and shot by Guy Ritchie.

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The pioneer of using film for lingerie marketing, though, is Agent Provocateur: in the brand’s film The 4 Dreams of Miss X, made in 2006, Mike Figgis shot Kate Moss, bringing together a major brand, a major celebrity model and a leading director in the creative role. This set the formula for many of today’s lingerie films.

Brand enhancement

Things have moved a long way on from the "behind the scenes" video – while these are still popular, they mostly serve to document a photographic shoot rather than add value to the brand. Although still considered valuable, they may not have the creative weight needed to define a brand.

Take as an example the subsequent work by Agent Provocateur, which currently has nearly 50 films on its own YouTube channel, including the most recent "Wilhelmina" film, starring Monica Cruz – part of defining a strong and alluring brand for confident women. The films also court controversy of course, with near bans from the Advertising Standards Authority, and the associated PR does nothing to harm that reputation – after all, LI reported their increased profits and turnover a few months ago, despite difficult trading conditions.

In complete contrast, the Figleaves Just Peachy 2012 film is a delicate, relaxed and attractive film that presents brand for a mainstream market. Take a look at Victoria’s Secret, too, and you can see a complete mix of styles of work, ranging from their horror-style Wicked Moon commercial to Tell Me You Love Me, a sumptuous 15-second short. Their video of the Victoria’s Secret Angels singing ‘Deck the Halls’ is great fun – from my knowledge of models, my guess is they had one idea and changed plans as they looked at out-take footage that is full of character and fun. It’s no wonder this video generated six million views on YouTube in just two weeks.

Playing catch-up

With videos now being seen on social media, YouTube (the second most used search engine in the world), on terrestrial TV as advertising, on dedicated online fashion TV channels, in cinemas, in blogs, and as both magazine content and bonus online download material, there is a ready audience. But beware: if they’re done badly or misjudge the public’s mood, a brand can be damaged.

While many intimate apparel brands are finding their way with fashion film, the big luxury brands are past masters. Louis Vuitton has a YouTube channel with more than 320 films and Chanel with over 200, organised by product category. Visually spectacular, creative and sophisticated, they represent substantial marketing investment made over many years. They have impeccable production values.

Having recently seen fashion photographer Tim Walker’s Storyteller exhibition at Somerset House, I was interested to see the inclusion of six films, five of which were fashion films based around shoots in various parts of the world. None of these could be called behind-the-scenes films. They enhanced the stills, communicated more quickly, provided a bigger narrative for the brand and also showed just how static a medium still photography can be, even when executed by someone as accomplished as Tim Walker.

Available to all

With film making costs coming down through access to technology and new ways of distribution, film is now a medium open to most brands. In fact the rapid growth of fashion film as we currently know it can be directly attributed to one factor: accessibility, both in terms of production and distribution.

The introduction of a groundbreaking digital stills camera in 2008 that shot high-definition video changed filmmaking completely, bringing an army of photographers to filmmaking.

Put in place a practical budget and a strong concept and you will find how accessible it is. As with websites, the biggest cost can be building your audience, although any brand currently building a social media presence should be a long way down that road.

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