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Why LVMH’s new entertainment division is the future of brand content

The fashion-and-luxury conglomerate is the latest major marketer to work with Superconnector Studios to bring its brands closer to Hollywood.

Why LVMH’s new entertainment division is the future of brand content
[Source photo: Douglas Sacha/Getty Images, Egbell/Getty Images, jamesbenet/Getty Images]

In 2021, Nike officially launched an internal content studio called Waffle Iron Entertainment; and in that same year, dropped two major projects: the feature documentary, The Day Sports Stood Still, about how sports reacted to COVID-19 lockdowns, and docuseries Promiseland, focusing on NBA star Ja Morant. In June 2022, Waffle Iron Entertainment announced a multiyear sports film deal with Apple TV+, and launched its first podcast, Hustle Rule, based on the best-selling book by Gwendolyn Oxenham.

Now, fashion-and-luxury giant LVMH is taking a similar approach to brand entertainment, announcing this week the creation of 22 Montaigne, a new division to explore content possibilities for its 70 brands, including Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Kenzo, Tiffany & Co., and Dior.

The common denominator here between Nike and LVMH is Superconnector Studios, which has had an integral role in creating and working with the companies and their respective entertainment divisions. For Superconnector cofounders Jae Goodman and John Kaplan, this new venture with LVMH is another incremental evolution of a thesis they’ve worked to prove for decades: that brands can create better content that is entertaining and that people actually want to see.

“LVMH already spends a lot of money to attract and engage an audience to create culture and be married to culture,” says Goodman. “They’re already in a place of recognizing, as Nike did, that they have to build live events to try to pull people into the brand. And so it wasn’t a tremendous leap for them to then suggest we could create really compelling prestige entertainment, and there’s a business ecosystem associated with that that might mean we don’t have to spend all the money to produce the content, or all the money to distribute the content.”

LVMH North America chairman and CEO Anish Melwani told Deadline that Superconnector’s role is that of connective tissue between the entertainment industry and the company’s brands (which Melwani calls “maisons”). In meeting with various studios, Melwani says there were a surprising number of projects that were already in progress that weren’t looking for money from the company, but to partner with LVMH brands to enhance the authenticity.

“[Goodman and Kaplan] are insiders in the industry, so they’ll help us understand the [possibilities for] our brands, which are premium and luxury and prestige,” said Melwani. “The entertainment content has to match up with those base values. They’ll help figure out the right alignment of values and thinking with our Maison’s. And then to the extent that our Maisons have stories that they would love to get told, that exist in our archives or in our heritage, helping to figure out the right studios to talk to.”

In terms of how 22 Montaigne will operate, since each of LVMH’s 70-plus brands are distinct, there is no centralized approach. “What we’ve done is created a ranking and filtering system based on a series of objective criteria,” says Goodman. “We have an infrastructure through which we can express to them either why we think a project is worth looking at, or why their project may or may not have resonance in the Hollywood business ecosystem. And the first thing we do when we come to entertainment entities is make sure they understand the point of view of the brand, how that brand connects with consumers, and look for alignment there before anybody starts talking about ideas, let alone deals.”

Hello Sunshine CEO Sarah Harden says the media and production company is already working with 22 Montaigne. “Given that the overwhelming majority of luxury consumers are women, and that the worlds of fashion and luxury have long been driven by iconic women, it’s only natural that many of the stories within LVMH’s Maisons will have women at the center,” says Harden. The new division is also in conversations with Imagine Entertainment.

For Goodman and Kaplan, the conversations about working with LVMH started with a text from Hector Muelas, a longtime collaborator and colleague, shortly after he was appointed Tiffany & Co.’s chief brand officer last fall. Kaplan says Muelas called as soon as he saw the scope and scale of the Tiffany brand archive in New York. “There is a library of stories that have never been told, pens that signed declarations of peace, love letters between the most famous people in the world, jewelry—and then there’s stuff like making the Vince Lombardi trophy and the Stanley Cup. He’d like to be telling these stories.”

Those conversations quickly advanced to an overall LVMH level. “Because all these brands are all about story,” says Goodman. “They’re steeped in history, their origin stories are each unique. They’re in the business of creating desire.”

When Goodman and Kaplan first started talking to Nike years ago, as well as Hollywood studios, distributors, and creators, about a potential entertainment division for that company, there was always a pitch involved on the value of a brand’s involvement in creating high-quality entertainment. Either brands weren’t sure about how they would be represented, or those on the entertainment side saw collaboration as no more than product placement and marketing tie-ins. But as our collective media culture has continued to fragment across so many different platforms, both now see the value each can bring to a project.

For the brands, Hollywood can help craft and tell stories that will only deepen the emotional connection they have with an audience. And for Hollywood, it has a broader promotional reach as brands use their marketing to promote a project.

Goodman says that 22 Montaigne doesn’t structure creative deals to include promotion, but it’s inherent in the overall collaboration. “What are the chances that when we go create an episodic series for Tiffany that Hector is not going to light up Tiffany’s socials and spend some of his media budget to promote the show? Of course, we’re going to support our own entertainment,” says Goodman. “And that has become much more valuable in Hollywood.”

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Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. More

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