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Balmain times mobile ad to benefit from Rihanna news

French fashion house Balmain is playing off the buzz surrounding its spring campaign model Rihanna with an ad on Vogue?s mobile Web site.

The day before the ad ran, it was announced that Rihanna would be receiving the Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Icon award. Most of the audience knows that Rihanna is Balmain?s latest face, so even though the ad does not picture her, the brand will still benefit from the buzz surrounding the singer since the two are currently linked in consumers' minds.

"The line that distinguishes a luxury brand from the others is usually a very fine line that they work very hard not to cross, and the reality is that luxury is conservative," said Melody Adhami, president and chief operating officer of Plastic Mobile, Toronto. "That's why luxury brands are usually not leaders in technology, either.

"While it is a missed opportunity not to have Rihanna featured in the ad, especially with the timeliness of her Fashion Icon Award, it's also a safer play to run the ads that are more about the brand and less about the celebrity," she said.

"In mobile we always consider context first and foremost, and in the case of Balmain's ad in Vogue the context is a publication almost exclusively dedicated to covering the life, activities and work of celebrities like Rihanna. So in that context the Balmain ad wouldn't really stand out, but may even detract from the brand itself."

Ms. Adhami is not affiliated with Balmain, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Balmain was unable to comment directly.

Fashion icon
This news about Rihanna?s award was being featured in a number of fashion-centric publications, including Elle, Harper?s Bazaar, Refinery29 and Vogue. Because the online media was buzzing about the singer, it was the perfect time for the ad to run.

The ads that were placed on Vogue reference those that the singer starred in.

Balmain?s spring campaign, shot by photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, shows Rihanna in front of either a stark white background or sitting on platforms and cubes in front of a black-and-white grid backdrop.

The label?s creative director, Olivier Rousteing, said in a video produced by the brand that the spring collection was created around Rihanna.

Balmain?s ads ran in the featured story slideshow at the top of the page, fitting in with the content on the site rather than being separated from the articles.

The brand chose a different approach to this Vogue ad, taking Rihanna out of the picture. The houndstooth jacket that the singer wore in the campaign sits on the same bench that she sat on next to a black handbag.

Balmain?s ad includes the call to action to ?shop now.?

On the click-through, consumers are taken to Balmain?s campaign page that currently features a large image of the pop star. The brand has a small ecommerce boutique but chose instead to point consumers toward its content and ads.

Balmain is also running a second ad on Vogue for its menswear collection. The ad shows a black-and-white photograph of a model in an outdoor setting wearing a white T-shirt and leather jacket.

The click-through on this ad takes consumers to the campaign page for Balmain's menswear collection.

Balmain has previously chosen appropriate times to run its ads this season.

The label leveraged the interest surrounding the Grammy Awards with an advertisement on Vogue magazine?s mobile Web site.

The ad, which featured Rihanna, was for the label?s spring collection, and appeared among the articles about the music awards. By placing the ad next to content about other music celebrities, Balmain is able to reach fans of its campaign model, and generate clicks.

Vogue readers traveling to the magazine?s mobile Web site would be familiar with the singer and her connection to Balmain because of the March issue. Rihanna was featured on the cover Vogue?s March issue for the third time.

This ad seems more focused on awareness than ecommerce.

"The campaign may see an increase in traffic to the campaign page, but I don't really believe that there's a clear call to action or engagement incentive beyond that," Ms. Adhami said.

"The standards of measuring the impact of advertising or marketing has changed dramatically with mobile and digital tracking capabilities," she said. "That's why we've moved beyond looking at mobile or web as channels in silo and we are encouraging brands to treat every platform as an opportunity to drive revenues.

"While click thru rates are meaningful in certain contexts, they don't really mean anything if it's not affecting the buyer's decision making process."