Since being bought by LVMH in 2019, Tiffany & Co. has been launching marketing initiatives to modernize the 184-year-old brand—but social media users have mixed reactions.
Beyonce and Jay-Z usually work well together. From releasing dozens of chart-topping tracks to an entire album collaboratively, the Carters—who have over 20 Grammys each—are considered American music royalty.
In their most recent joint project, the musicians appear in their first ad campaign together for New York jeweler Tiffany & Co.
But having the couple, who married in 2008, in the campaign isn’t the only notable thing about the project.
Beyonce is the first Black woman to wear the famous 128.54 carats and 82 faceted Tiffany Diamond necklace. Before her, only British teacher and conservative Mary Whitehouse, actress Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s, and musical artist Lady Gaga at the 2019 Oscars have worn the yellow diamond cut.
Although the $30 million precious stone represents the rich history of Tiffany, an unearthed Jean-Michel Basquiat painting became the most talked about element of the campaign images. The artwork titled “Equals Pi” dates back to 1982 and predominantly features the distinct blue that brands Tiffany & Co.
“We don’t have any literature that says he made the painting for Tiffany,” Alexandre Arnault, the brand’s executive vice president of products and communications, told WWD. “But we know a little bit about Basquiat. We know his family. We did an exhibition of his work at the Louis Vuitton Foundation a few years back. We know he loved New York, and that he loved luxury, and he loved jewelry. My guess is that the [blue painting] is not by chance. The color is so specific that it has to be some kind of homage.”
Arnault added that the campaign materials don’t include Tiffany blue other than the painting. He says that the artwork will be displayed in Tiffany’s flagship boutique on New York’s Fifth Avenue once its renovation is completed.
The brand releasing images with the never-before-seen Basquiat work has been exciting for music fans, but for art enthusiasts, it sparks outrage. On Twitter, one commenter shares that they think Basquiat “wasn’t the type of person or artist to approve of his pieces being used in an ad from multiple billionaires (uncontextualized, at that).”
While another account argues in response that “[Basquiat’s] art did focus on the broken and the oppressed, but let’s not pretend like he didn’t seek wealth or notoriety for his work.”
Modernizing the brand
In relation to reinvention, selecting the Carters was a move to modernize Tiffany’s image. Since French conglomerate LVMH bought Tiffany in 2019, the parent company has been working toward a more inclusive and current image for the 184-year-old brand.
Last August, they rolled out a campaign that also invoked controversy. The ad titled “Not your mother’s Tiffany” displayed young models wearing jewelry that was brand new or not hand-me-down pieces.
In a Tweet, entrepreneur Rachel ten Brink expressed that “awareness doesn’t equal relevance. Dissing your current customers won’t make new ones love you.”
And on Instagram, one user says that as a mom and part of the older generation, she feels that Tiffany is saying they “don’t need” her as a consumer anymore.
Despite the mixed reactions social media exhibits on Tiffany’s marketing initiatives under LVMH, the luxury jeweler’s earnings reached $4 billion in sales last year.
Banner photo from @beyonce on Instagram.