Special Group has announced its presence in the Australian market by collaborating with award-winning author Anna Funder, Warm Bodies actress Teresa Palmer and fashion photographer Derek Henderson in a campaign for luxury pearl brand Paspaley.
At the centre of the campaign is a bespoke short story, called ‘Everything Precious’, written by Funder, which will be released to Paspaley subscribers daily in seven serialised instalments via email between 1 and 8 October.
Every section of the story will feature Henderson’s photography of Palmer wearing the pearls from Paspaley’s newest Touchstone collection, and the final short story will be released as a hard copy, on iBook, Kindle and as an audio book read by the author. And, in addition to this, Funder will also perform a live reading at the collection launch in Sydney on 8 October.
“We’re reaching out to an audience that traditionally don’t see themselves wearing pearls with a campaign that goes much deeper than your usual fashion advertising,” said Special Group’s creative director Tony Bradbourne in a release.
Pearls have traditionally been considered a fashion accessory more congruent with an older target market, and the release explains that the story-telling approach has been used to engage with a younger, more fashion conscious audience, with the aim of making pearls more appealing to them.
Special Group first opened the doors to its Australian office in June, and Paspaley was one of the founding clients, having been in the agency’s ledger since January.
This is, however, the first major campaign that the Special Group has launched across the ditch, and the jewellery brand’s marketing director Iris Kleimann seems happy with what she has seen thus far.
“Special’s strategic thinking, innovative creativity, design craft, and attention to detail have been outstanding,” she said. “We are really proud of the resulting campaign.”
And Kleimann isn’t the only one to have taken an interest in Special Group’s work, with Australian Financial Review, Vogue, Elle and the UK’s Daily Mail all giving column inches to the campaign.
The media’s interest in the campaign has predominantly been focused on the involvement of a famous actress and acclaimed author in the advertisement. And while the execution in this case is certainly interesting, it isn’t unusual for artistic types to lend their abilities to advertising.
Actors often consolidate their hefty pay packages by appearing in advertisements and, as was seen in Jude Law’s recent performance for Johnnie Walker, this doesn’t always involve a silly catchphrase. Increasingly, brands are using their advertisements to entertain audiences through long-form projects that seem more akin to short films than advertising.
This trend was also evident as this year’s edition of the Clios, which saw Guinness’ five-minute Sapeurs documentary walk away with the grand Clio in the film category.
The literary efforts of poets and writers have also encroached into advertising on numerous occasions. The National Bank borrowed from Dr Seuss in a 2010 spot, Nike collaborated with slam poet Lemon Andersen last year and Robin Williams’ reading of Walt Whitman’s poem ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ also carried an Apple ad earlier this year.
Recently, LA artist Michael C Hsiung also lent his unique illustration style to a range of posters for Blunt Umbrellas as part of a campaign conceptualised by Y&R NZ.
And while some traditionalists might argue that artists and writers are selling out by collaborating with brands, Funder doesn’t necessarily agree with this sentiment.
“To have total creative freedom, a time limit and an audience turns out to be the perfect conditions for writing a short story,” she said in the release. “And the idea that a company which makes things of great beauty and value from nature values literature, which (on a good day) is also something of beauty and value that reflects the world around us, was inspiring.”
It's also worth noting that the serialisation of fiction in the 1800s served as a means by which famed writers, including Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, Fyodor Dostoevsk and Herman Melville, could earn a living from their art.
And as brands continue to delve into publishing, longer-form advertising is starting to offer a valuable resource of revenue to writers, poets and artists.