Friday, September 18, 2009

A Peek into the Foreword by Mark Dunhill

My mother is fond of saying that the icing on the cake is more important than the cake itself, in drawing people to taste it. I kept this in mind when it came down to identifying the right person to write the Foreword to Luxury Online. As anyone in this business knows, majority of luxury brands remain guilty of still viewing the internet and technology with suspicious eyes, meaning that digital media remains in its infancy in the world of luxury. It also means there isn't an abundance of experts and potential advocats of a book like this, waiting around for me to call them with the right mix of understanding, strategic mindset and flexibility required to appreciate the role of the internet and technology in driving luxury through the next century. Any internet-related topic is one that is tread carefully in luxe land.

After weeks of feeling like I was hitting my head against a brick wall I finally got a revelation one night while on a flight back to Paris from Shanghai. I opened a magazine and was delighted to find a piece on the re-emergence of Fabergé and the plans that the CEO Mark Dunhill had of using the internet as a solid platform for re-launching the brand after nearly a century of stagnation. Having had the privilege of collaborating with Fabergé in its re-emergence plans, I nearly beat myself for missing the evident candidate for the Foreword. Of course Mark Dunhill was the perfect one. He had not only led Alfred Dunhill to embrace the internet during his long tenure as the President but he is also one of the few in the league of luxury senior execs that actually "get it" when it comes to digital media. I was so excited that I couldn't wait for the plane to land. I called Mark as soon as we touched down and he accepted my request without the slightest hesitation. Despite his busy schedule, he proceeded to write one of the best pieces I have ever read about luxury online. He hit the nail right on the head and I think it will be a nice wake-up call for all the brands that have been trailing online. I'm sure you'll agree with me after reading it. Here is a short phrase as a peek inside. In the meantime you can watch Mark Dunhill speak about his plans for Fabergé on CNN

"It seems only yesterday, when to suggest that the internet had an important role to play in the rarefied world of luxury was either an act of misplaced bravery or an outright heresy, depending on your point of view. Today however, all the major players in this sector are falling over themselves in a rush to embrace the online world... Until recently, the wisdom of using an official company website for anything more than a few bland declarations and a limited online brochure was still being challenged in the boardrooms of luxury conglomerates. Now, after a stampede to set-up transactional e-retail sites, luxury brands, often with the self-conciousness of a child arriving to a new school half way through the term, are looking to attach themselves to every new online phenomenon, from blogging to Twittering via You Tube and Facebook..."

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