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14/06/2007 - par Mark Tungate

Luxury fashion advertisers are lazy and unimaginative. I can support this accusation with two words : Kate Moss. I know she's an icon, but I suspect the real reason she gets so much work is that the fashion industry can't be bothered to think of anybody else - unless it's another ­celebrity.

I found myself repeating this view last week at a conference about luxury brands and the Internet. Given their lack of creativity in the print medium, it's not surprising that luxury brands were slow to go online and are still unsure what to do with the Web. They have turned their websites into glittering shop windows with a sprinkling of motion and music (Goldfrapp, always Gold­frapp), but little in the way of a Web 2.0 experience - in other words, any form of inter­activity with consumers.

One conference guest, the branding consultant Alycia de Mesa, pointed out that fashion brands are essentially dictators, and that to open a dialogue with their consumers - in the form of sponsored blogs or forums - would involve embracing democracy. What if consumers attempted to (gasp !) constructively criticise the brand ? Fortunately, the dashing Alexandre ­Wehrlin, who heads up internet projects for luxury watch brand Piaget, was on hand to suggest that consumers who join online debates about elite products are passionate brand advocates and not virtual saboteurs. The luxury industry needs to embrace this fact unless it wants its online presence to become totally irrelevant.

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