Why brands are revisiting old ad campaigns

London, United Kingdom – Two Sundays ago The New York Times came up with a curious Louis Vuitton ad. Not a new campaign, but a reprint of a campaign shot in Tibet in 1998 by photographer Jean Larivière, featuring children wearing monogrammed backpacks and astronaut helmets that looked oddly supportive of the pandemic.

Again this Sunday New York Times was another Vuitton campaign featuring Larivière, this one shot in 1997 on Inle Lake in Myanmar. The French label also took to Instagram to post images from past campaigns, shot by Annie Leibovitz, Carter Smith and Peter Lindbergh. Many images tap into our wanderlust, one of the main attributes of the Vuitton brand, which the containment measures have put out of reach.

But while its focus on travel is unique, Louis Vuitton isn’t alone in tapping into its archives. As the pandemic keeps many fashion designers at home, several major luxury brands are taking trips down memory lane and reposting old campaigns.

A recent series on Saint Laurent’s Instagram account featured images taken over the past five years by Collier Schorr and Inez & Vinoodh. Versace, accustomed to nostalgia, also used its Instagram to showcase a series of campaigns shot by Richard Avedon in 1995, 1996 and 1997 with Claudia Schiffer and Naomi Campbell. Burberry has also been posting ads from decades past on social media in recent weeks, part of a ramp up of the brand’s #BurberryHeritage campaign.


Recycling old campaigns is an interesting strategy at a time when social media’s penchant for tapping into our collective nostalgia has spawned wildly popular Instagram accounts celebrating 1970s, 80s and 90s fashion – like @90sanxiety and @ velvetcoke – and social distancing measures, along with tighter marketing budgets, have made it harder for some labels to launch new campaigns as they once did.

The brands were hesitant to express themselves, but Donatella Versace looked into the phenomenon. “In recent years, people have shown great interest in the history of Versace,” she said in a statement. “We thought that [by running archival images on our Instagram account] we could give them a kind of escape from reality, while respecting at the same time the fact that we could not film ad hoc content in any way and that the moment was — is — unique.”

Licensing agents who have access to unpublished footage that has been cut by publications (or custom-produced by photographers) have become crucial collaborators for brands – as well as media titles – providing images safer and cheaper than ordering original content.

Trunk Archive – an image licensing agency that represents fashion photographers like Ethan James Green, Nadine Ijewere and Nick Knight and works with brands like Chanel and Dior and magazines like vogue and She – has seen a 50-60% increase in licensing requests for unpublished works in the past two months.

Nadine Ijewere / Trunk Archives | Source: Trunk Archives

“These brands continue to sell their products and they need to find a way to market themselves,” said Trunk Archive executive vice president Leslie Simitch. “They can’t create what they normally do.”

As a result, brands and magazine photo editors are more openly sharing briefs with licensing agents. In most cases, they use the images as is. But some ask creatives to adapt the images to better suit their specifications.

Mark Fina, creative director of creative agency Air Paris, revamped the licensed images adding CGI effects and motion graphics using Photoshop, Premiere Pro and 3D modeling software to animate the contents.

“Customers are really happy because we didn’t miss anything,” Fina said. “We are always on very aggressive deadlines and we meet those deadlines, which is very important.”

Locked-at-home creatives, many of whom are struggling to find paid work, are also benefiting from increased licensing requests for old content.

“It’s not like you make as much money selling an image as you do shooting the campaign,” said fashion photographer Pamela Hanson, who has seen a surge in demand for old work over the past few years. last weeks. “But it’s better than nothing.”

While photographers and models can profit from the images they sell, for hairdressers and makeup artists, who do not own the rights to the images they help create, compensation for licensed photographs is often minimal, if any.

As markets around the world brace for a deep recession, putting further pressure on budgets, the surge in sourcing of images from archives and licensing agencies is likely to continue well beyond current lockdowns.

“I think customers have seen what we are capable of,” Fina said. “And we will continue to ask ourselves: is there another way to spin what is already available?

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Marilyn J. Hernandez