Industry News: Tiffany & Co. Is Crazy In Love With Beyoncé And Jay-Z
What does the couple’s relationship with the New York luxury jeweler means for the watch industry?
When the “Icons” issue of Harper’s Bazaar dropped on Tuesday, it broke the news that cover star Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z have signed on to become the new faces of Tiffany & Co. Not only did the iconic jeweler provide all the baubles for all three versions of the cover, but the retailer also sponsored the issue.
And because both members of this ultimate power couple are passionate and influential collectors (and Tiffany & Co. also sells timepieces), we thought we’d take a look at the potential impact this conscious coupling might have on the watch business.
This partnership is big news for all parties. As you probably already know, Tiffany & Co. was acquired by French conglomerate LVMH in January. What you might not know is that one of LVMH’s main goals is to raise Tiffany’s profile among younger buyers and customers in Asia.
This deal also helps LVMH expand into the jewelry sector – one of the fastest-growing areas of the luxury goods market.
For Harper’s Bazaar, this is the first September issue under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief Samira Nasr. And one of Nasr’s goals for the fashion magazine’s future is to invite a more diverse audience to the party. And getting Beyoncé to grace the cover is quite the get.
What’s in it for the Carters? In a word: Reciprocity. Beyoncé’s new Ivy Park line and her Harper’s cover share a wild west theme. Jay-Z has a long-established relationship with LVMH – the conglomerate owns a 50% share in Hova’s Champagne brand Armand de Brignac, also known as “Ace of Spades.” And never forget the Hublot’s Classic Fusion Shawn Carter Limited Edition wristwatch from 2013.
With this announcement, Beyoncé and her husband, Jay-Z, are the latest stars to join the blue box brand’s list of hip celebrity ambassadors, alongside actors Tracee Ellis Ross and Anya Taylor-Joy, skier Eileen Gu, and K-pop sensation Rosé from Black Pink.
The partnership comes at a time when LVMH is working to appeal to a more diverse clientele. It also signals that the Carters are also looking to expand the reach of their (already considerable) empire. After all, Tiffany & Co. is one of the world’s most recognizable brands.
However, Tiffany is also a business that spent the first part of the 21st century caught up in Audrey Hepburn-nostalgia. Today, only the most in-the-know watch enthusiasts are aware of Tiffany & Co.’s horological history.
The jewelers began selling watches in 1847. In 1853, Charles Lewis Tiffany installed a clock – known as the “Atlas” – above the entrance of his jewelry shop on Broadway. And when New Yorkers began using that clock to set their watches by, the expression “New York minute” was born. Then, in 1854, Tiffany signed an agreement with Patek Philippe and become the first retailer in America to carry the exclusive timepieces. And that was just the jeweler’s first decade in the watch world.
But if anyone can bring Tiffany & Co. back into the fold as an important watch industry player, it’s Alexandre Arnault. The 29-year-old son of LVMH’s chairman Bernard Arnault, Alexandre’s first step was to shake up Tiffany’s marketing strategy with the controversial “Not Your Mother’s Tiffany” campaign, which alienated the over-40 crowd. Beyoncé (aged 39 and a mother) and Jay-Z (aged 51) can help assure their fans in this age demographic that they are still seen by and relevant to Tiffany & Co.
Watch brands have employed celebrities to boost sales forever. But a partnership with powerhouses like Beyoncé and Jay-Z redefines the idea of ambassadors. For buyers, watching “friends of the brand” flit from one sponsorship agreement to the next makes the entire concept of ambassadorships feel inauthentic. But Bey and Jay are brands unto themselves, and their business acumen is part of their appeal.
This announcement is still very new, so we can only speculate how long this arrangement will last. Though if the plan is successful, we can probably expect similar crossovers within the LVMH family.
As a self-described “business, man,” Jay-Z is known to have personal involvement in every project bearing his name. Beyoncé’s reach expands beyond music into directing and fashion. So we hope that one of the longer-term effects of the couple’s tenure as the faces of Tiffany will be bringing new faces into the fold. It could even be as simple as encouraging emerging photographers to promote new watch concepts.
But the biggest impact will surely be on marketing (according to WWD.com, the Carters will star in Tiffany’s next ad campaign). As influencers, it’s also cheering to see ambassadors who really know watches (remember when Beyoncé bought Jay-Z a $5 million Big Bang?). And while we don’t know all the details of the deal, we can only assume that Jay will still be able to wear his customized Richard Mille 56 “Blueprint” and his Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso (and his Pateks, of course).
(Photography by Watchonista, other sources mentioned)