Britney Spears For Kenzo: A Stroke of Instagram Genius

Kenzo is having a moment right now, in large part thanks to Britney Spears fronting the newly released spring campaign. The buzz is palpable.

We explored the topic of nostalgic marketing and took a dive into Kenzo's Instagram stats to see how effective the practice is when involving celebrity branding.

Spoiler alert: it's crazy good.


Teasin' the Brit Brit.

The cycle of fashion is at it again, this time with the late 90s and early aughts in the driver's seat. Logo bag, anyone? For those of you who are old enough to remember this decade the first time around, you might be rubbing your heads a little bit, wondering how it could be possible that your long gone low-risers of yore could be creeping back onto your shopping list at any given point. Or why your coming-of-age teen idols are once more on the hot list.

Countless fashion trends are resurfacing from the times when Britney Spears was churning out hits on the radio. And now, she finds herself in the spotlight again as the face of storied luxury house Kenzo. While this specific partnership comes as a surprise, tapping into nostalgia is a genius marketing strategy, especially when there's a social media campaign component.

Kudos has to be given to Kenzo for the dash of irony in choosing an iconic figure that isn't exactly known for her high fashion image. But before we dig into the #KenzoLovesBritney Instagram impact, let's explore why the nostalgia phenomenon is such a powerful marketing tactic, especially in the social media era.

Nostalgic Feeeeeelings

Everybody loves to reminisce on the good old days. There's something about our memory sensors that make us forget about the bad stuff and long for how wonderful things used to be. Whatever your feelings on the current president, his nostalgia-invoking "Make America Great Again" slogan was a pretty stellar coup of a marketing plan.

Take for example Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris. The protagonist meets up with his literary icons from the one epoch he idealizes, the 1920s. Upon inquiring about their favorite era, they unequivocally retort that the 1910s were the best years, to his great bewilderment. It's human nature to yearn for the past and to want to relive moments that are associated to positive recollections.

Think about it: our parents listened to oldies and our generation loves all those 90s hits—they take us back. Even if the times were not better or in some cases, not even good at all, we gravitate towards our memories. In fact, studies show that "nostalgia is shown to be both a driver of empathy and social connectedness, and a potent internal antidote for loneliness and alienation." It's a state of mind that grabs people by the heartstrings and that prompt emotional responses.

Now if this positioning in marketing isn't something businesses should capitalize on to reach consumers, then I don't know what is. The powerful sentiment straight up unites the human species. Now pair that with vivid visual triggers facilitated by social marketing, and it makes for an explosively engaging formula.

Guess who?


Kenzo Hit the Nail on the Head

Now that we know just how receptive people are to taking trips down memory lane, which is why it's such an effective marketing strategy, it's time to discuss the genius Britney / Kenzo alliance.

Celebrity endorsement advantages are plentiful, but securing someone like Britney, THE pop icon of the early aughts, is a statement in and of itself. The fact that she's a mega nostalgic figure for a big chunk of Generation IG is a solid win, but the kicker is that the collection she's been commissioned to front is also a throwback titled Memento. Nostalgia galore.

Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the duo at the creative helm of Kenzo, are famous for thinking outside the box. Celebs have been hired to front brand campaigns for decades, but there's a surprise and delight element to an unusual partnership between a prestigious French luxury house and an American pop icon.

It was a smart choice: in the current dynamic marketing landscape where visual community-driven platforms like Instagram reign supreme, celebrity ads have viral potential. Seeing as shock value is nearly unachievable nowadays, it's refreshing to witness these types of unpredictable brand activations.

The Insta arena agrees, as Kenzo's recent posts featuring the aughts' most famous pop star are captivating audiences, who are surely part fascinated, part knee-deep in nostalgic feelings.

Let's take a look at just how much the Kenzo Loves Britney visuals hit the 'Gram like a freight train.

Kenzo Loves Britney*

*(And so does its Instagram audience.)

It has to be said: the track record for luxury brands on Instagram isn't great when it comes to engagement. They have massive audiences that have been acquired by way of name recognition, but these houses don't play the game like other industries do. More power to them.

That said, we can't help but think that Humberto and Carol might've had Instagram in mind when tapping Britney as their spring face. They properly teased the campaign with mysterious videos on the channel, and then released the images there as well for its audience to revel.

It made such a splash that 9 out of Kenzo's 10 most engaged posts of all time are of Britney Spears:
Kenzo loves britney, social media campaign, nostalgia marketing, celebrity endorsement, kenzo, britney spears

Not one of the Britney posts fall under the 1% mark, unless you count this teaser video that doesn't reveal her identity, which still almost hits it at 0.98% engagement and 41.26% effectiveness. The top performer is this shot that's very reminiscent of old school Britney, where she is clad in head-to-toe flesh-baring denim. All in all, the Britney content is leaps and bounds beyond Kenzo's average engagement rate of 0.53%.
Kenzo loves britney, social media campaign, nostalgia marketing, celebrity endorsement, kenzo, britney spears

Meanwhile, we also separated all of Kenzo's Instagram content pillars from the last three months into boards and—you guessed it—the Britney content outperformed the next best category by almost triple.
Kenzo loves britney, social media campaign, nostalgia marketing, celebrity endorsement, kenzo, britney spears

This nostalgic celebrity partnership also put Kenzo on the map for a lot of people that didn't have the brand on their Insta-dar. The day of the announcement, March 20, the Kenzo account gained 12,084 new followers, in comparison to its daily average of 663. The spike can be observed below.
Kenzo loves britney, social media campaign, nostalgia marketing, celebrity endorsement, kenzo, britney spears

The spike in follower growth can certainly be attributed to the onslaught of user-generated content from that day, where Britney herself regrammed the campaign images, along with hoards of entertainment news outlets. Kenzo earned over 1K pieces of user content on March 20, which reached over 28.5 million users. To put that into perspective, the brand's daily pre-Britney organic reach hovered around 1 million.
Kenzo loves britney, social media campaign, nostalgia marketing, celebrity endorsement, kenzo, britney spears

There's no denying it: Kenzo tapping Britney Spears as the face of its latest throwback collection was a stroke of genius, not only from a nostalgic marketing standpoint, but from a social marketing one as well. Content that evokes emotion is what yields the most hype, allowing brands to create connections with their followers.

It wouldn't come as a surprise if those denim backpacks, fanny packs, baseball hats, and jackets start selling like hot cakes. Not to mention those very instagrammable sweatshirts. Future street style Insta bait, perhaps? We think maybe probably yes.

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