Commentary

Louis Vuitton's "Journeys" Campaign: Where Is It Going?

Most of Sunday's “60 Minutes” profile of Angelina Jolie traversed familiar ground: careerism, marriage and motherhood, life as perpetual paparazzi bait, etc. But amid her usual oddball/revelatory banter ("had I not become an actor, I would've been an elephant taxidermist," etc.), Jolie discussed her work as a United Nations goodwill ambassador and, specifically, her charity missions in Bosnia and Ethiopia.

Hey, all the power to her. There are only, like, four Starbucks in sub-Saharan Africa and none of them serve the seasonal Gingerbread Latte. So Jolie has responsible-celebrity bona fides to spare. I mean this. If she doesn't truly give a fraction of a crap, she does a fine job of pretending otherwise.

Why Louis Vuitton is attempting to hitch a ride on Jolie's coattails, as part of its "Journeys" series of video snippetry, is anybody's guess. There's no connection between the LV brand and the charitable work done abroad by Jolie and other celebs; LV's Andrei satchel would seem a more appropriate accessory on an ocean liner to the old country than in a dung-pelted refugee camp. Thus the campaign, which has featured Sean Connery (babbling about golf and life lessons) and Bono (somehow talking about economic development in Africa, rather than Jell-O shots and Tara Reid), falls into the doing-good-because-we're-supposed-to category.

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As for the Jolie video, there's only one, as opposed to the multi-clip sessions with Connery and Bono. It lasts for less than a minute and is an offshoot of a major-league print campaign shot by Annie Leibovitz. This would've been nice to know before I started writing.

Nonetheless, the clip, like all the other "Journeys" videos, is exactly what you'd expect. It places Jolie in a forest lean-to that suggests some art director's idea of jungle authenticity. It teems with shots of sunlight streaming through the dewy fronds, which look like outtakes from “Platoon.” It suggests to those undecided on the "land mines buried near where children play: bad or good?" issue that land mines are, indeed, bad. It fails to entertain, enlighten or educate.

And not that this has much to do with the videos, but Louis Vuitton's marketers might consider hiring somebody familiar with the English language. In the intro, LV (or its copy-writing minion) notes, "It is perhaps no coincidence that many of the world's most intriguing personalities are also very well traveled." "Perhaps"? Take it easy on the bold pronouncements, killer. Later, it/he/she/whatever adds, "This year, Angelina Jolie joins that exemplary list [of LV Journeymen and Journeywomen]." Can a list be exemplary? Maybe if it's written all nice and formal-like in calligraphy, perhaps. Finally, in one of the Bono videos, the captioner inserts a typo into one of lovely Mrs. Bono's monologues ("we want to get back on that wrung [sic]"). Mr. Bono has hurled portable electronics devices at assistants for far less flagrant misdeeds.

I'm nitpicking here, obviously. But it's bad enough that the videos don't brand anything other than the aforementioned fronds; the inelegant language and so-so-proud-of-self 'tude only reinforces the tonal incoherence. If there's a link between "Journeys" and the Louis Vuitton brand and products, it's no more intelligible after viewing the Jolie clip than it was before. Excuse the obvious analogy, but the campaign is about as authentic as a $40 Chinatown knockoff.

1 comment about "Louis Vuitton's "Journeys" Campaign: Where Is It Going?".
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  1. Lynne Spreen from Spreen and Associates, December 4, 2011 at 5:50 p.m.

    Good analysis. Nice to read critique by someone who isn't blinded by all the prettiness.

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