Earlier this year, British fashion label Burberry caused a media furore when it shoulder-tapped Brooklyn Beckham – the babe’n, 16-year-old offspring of David and Victoria Beckham – to take part in its big banger of a fragrance campaign, not as a model, not as a brand ambassador – but as the photographer.
Brooklyn announced his fashion photography debut to the world via his Twitter and Instagram feeds using the hashtag #THISISBRIT. He then invited his 6 million followers to watch the photoshoot live on his Snapchat and Instagram accounts.
While the #THISISBRIT campaign attracted a load of attention, it also outraged some of the world’s top photographers. They felt Burberry’s decision to use an untrained, inexperienced youth, simply for his huge social media following, was belittling to the profession.
Others felt that it was an unearned leg-up into the fashion world for Brooklyn. Fashion photographer Chris Floyd told The Guardian: “David and Victoria Beckham represent sheer willpower and graft. Especially her, she’s climbed that mountain all by herself…They represent hard work and then their 16-year-old year son comes along and it’s sheer nepotism. He hasn’t done it from hard work, which is counter-intuitive to what his parents represent.”
On the flipside, it catapulted young Beckham into the world of fashion photography and it connected millions of previously disengaged people with the Burberry brand.
What were they thinking?
You think Burberry and you think trench coats, tartan (and dollar dollar bills). But Burberry was looking for a strategy to recapture the attention of its ‘younger’ audience and reposition the brand as young and hip. Social media presented the perfect opportunity to go directly to its target, or future target, audience.
Burberry could have used any photographer it wanted for the photoshoot. But even the most famed fashion photographers don’t have a 6-million strong following. Putting the celebrity behind the camera was a clever and fresh approach, and hand-picking Brooklyn for the job seemed to be a smart move.
What’s Mosh’s take on it all?
We’re social media nerds, so of course we believe Burberry made a smart move in commissioning Beckham Jnr. Our Founding Father, Jeremy Marks, says they mightn’t have received the world’s best photos, but it seems they got something better: “Social media fame does not trump skill but Burberry wanted to attach their brand to Brooklyn Beckham and get in front of his followers. If they’d wanted amazing photography, they would’ve hired a pro. But it was obviously more about marketing than professional photography.
“Having a social media presence is imperative,” Marks adds. “It’s no longer an add-on. It’s the first impression most people get of a brand these days. Needless to say, you best make it a good one.”