Corporate raider turned celebrity billionaire Bernard Arnault, chairman of luxury goods company LVMH and the world’s 16th richest person has a cunning plan to penetrate tough but promising new markets for luxury goods – he’ll just take a short cut by leveraging the celebrity status, political clout and first class network of former British Prime Minister and long time friend Tony Blair.
The Daily Mail and Reuters recently reported that Blair is about to finalise a six figure package to act as advisor to Moet, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Hennessy cognac in developing markets such as India. Some luxury analysts have welcomed this unusual pairing. “Blair could help LVMH get necessary authorisations and resolve complex political issues” commented Luca Solca from Bernstein in London.
Over the next decade India will potentially be worth US$15 billion in annual luxury goods sales for the group. The number of high net worth individuals is growing rapidly but the country’s retail sector has been slow to develop due to lack of retail space, excessive red tape and high duties combined with a 51% foreign ownership cap. Given the unstable political environment, the Indian government has been reluctant to intervene – this is where Blair’s clout may bring benefits.
Blair will not be the first politician to succeed in cultivating his government funded little black book to create a well-paid speaking and consulting career post public service[since 2001 former US President Bill Clinton is estimated to have amassed a US$100 million fortune, whilst since 2007 Blair has already picked up two advisory roles in banking and finance worth 4.5 million pounds annually]. Having worked on successful advertising campaigns with actresses, designers and even former Soviet leader Mihail Gorbachev, LVMH is of course no stranger to enlisting celebrity pulling power to enhance its own brands’ reputations . The question for consumers will be is this new association be a natural meeting of minds reinforcing the notion of discernment, distinction and refinement or is this just another case of celebrity made champagne? Let me know what you think about politicos cashing in on their reputation post office and whether this would affect your brand preference in champagne selection… Read the full Daily Mail article for more juicy details about the close relationship between Blair and Arnault here