Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Hit by Scandal? Make the Most of It

Magazine article Marketing

Mark Ritson on Branding: Hit by Scandal? Make the Most of It

Article excerpt

Bryan Ferry paused, just for a second, and the audience at the Victoria & Albert Museum thrilled.

No stranger to beautiful women, Ferry was on stage to announce who had won Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. The crowd had a clear favourite and the usually detached atmosphere suddenly acquired a brief flash of anticipation. Finally Ferry smiled and two words fell languidly from his mouth into the huge room: Kate Moss.

Moss did not accept the award in person. Instead, Vivienne Westwood returned to the stage to accept it in her honour. Despite rumours that Moss would appear to claim her prize, no one in the fashion cognoscenti expected her to appear. Kate keeps quiet.

A little over a year ago, things were very different for the British supermodel. That Daily Mirror front page, featuring Moss apparently engaged in a cocaine binge, had been flashed all over the world. During the painful PR week that followed, her major contracts with brands including H&M, Chanel and Gloria Vanderbilt were abruptly and very publicly ended or reviewed. Even Burberry was forced to unceremoniously dump her image from its flagship stores.

The media were quick to punish and predict her demise. The New York Times had Moss in 'professional freefall', The Times had her future 'hanging in the balance', while The Mirror boldly declared her career over. Max Clifford announced that Moss was 'coming to the end of her career', while that other PR uber-commentator, Mark Borkowski, predicted that Moss would be 'crucified' and declared that she had 'as much glamour as a disinfected bargepole'.

Things did not quite work out that way. The past 12 months have been Moss' most successful in her 15-year career. Aside from last week's award, she was also voted Best Dressed Woman by Glamour and given a prestigious award for Fashion Influence in the US.

Her popularity with the public appears equally strong. Burberry reported 'extraordinary' demand for the pounds 750 handbag Moss carries in its latest ads, while Superdrug saw sales of its pounds 2.99 charity bag increase tenfold after the model was spotted with one.

Then there is the work. Since the scandal broke, Moss has picked up contracts for Nikon, Virgin Mobile, Top Shop, Burberry, Stella McCartney, Dior, Versace, Agent Provocateur, Louis Vuitton and her original patron, Calvin Klein. …

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