Kate Moss: What Does She Stand For, Again?

Some years ago I was at the Groucho Club (my only visit, since I was quite excited as we’d just been signed, had had a day at Abbey Road studio Number 2 and, um, quite possibly due to the 9 shots of Laphroaig Stevo Pearce of Some Bizarre made me drink, but that’s another story …) and Kate Moss was there. I don’t smoke but I asked her to light my cigarette. I wonder where I put that lipsticked fag? …

Anyway, I digress.

The reason for that pathetically obvious name-dropping is that I was in a brainstorm session complete with a lot of glossy “stimulus” (eg, men’s and ladies magazines like Cosmo, FHM, Another Magazine, GQ, etc.) and Kate Moss was in ads for nearly every product in the magazines. Well, it seemed that way. Now, working for a branding agency it’s important to notice these things and to have an opinion. Brands need to differentiate, yeah?

So … who the hell is hiring Kate Moss to help them differentiate their brand when every one of their competitors is hiring Kate Moss to help them differentiate their brand? Kate’s doing OK on the back of it (no pun intended), but really?

I read a study recently (will try to find the link and put it up) that posited that brand agencies have it all wrong, and that brand selection has more to do with the buyers themselves than with the brand (i.e., people with certain psychometric profiles will buy a BMW, and others will buy an Audi). I quite like this idea. I’d love to do a study with 1,000 consumers and invite them to come in to a location in what they consider their “hottest look” to complete a psychometric questionnaire. Log the clothes they are wearing, the fragrance they use, and the makeup etc. they have on. Once the questionnaire is complete, then ask what car they own / aspire to own; what computer and so on. Then run a multivariate analysis.

‘twould be interesting…

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2 thoughts on “Kate Moss: What Does She Stand For, Again?

  1. Kate Moss has outlasted all the supermodels because she has always been a blank canvas. That was the key to her success. She could be made up to look like any of the archetypes of beauty or sexual fascination. Because she didn’t “speak” or “do” anything other than wear other people’s clothes–no good causes, no excercise videos, no aspirations to become an actress/singer, or god forbid “spokesmodel”–and go to glamourous parties, we had no expectations of her other than her straightforward fashion role, i.e., personifying the aspiration of beauty.
    This reminds one of the line of argument sometimes used by branding consultancies when creating a new identity for a reluctant client: the “empty vessel”. “It’s up to us to fill it with values, behaviours and meaning” really means “It may not make sense now, but it’s different from anything else and we can own it (eventually).”
    Interesting that with the drugs and the rock-chick persona solidifying her into a more consistent image Kate’s exploded the argument I just made. She may not be a blank canvas anymore, but she’s certainly sticking to her core competence. Likewise, in business, it’s important to be really good at something and create a brand that stands for something rather than being outfitted in the latest colourways and typeface favoured by the hot creative director of the moment.
    What do we expect of our fantasies? We didn’t want Kate to be humble or contrite. Because she did nothing in response to the “outrage”–a mother of a small child allegedly inhaling substances and dating a known narcotics abuser??–we’ve forgotten the reality and latched back onto the image. What do we expect of companies we buy from or who employ us? Consistency or excitement?

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