In a gutsy move, upscale fashion brand Smythe is taking the axe to its perceived image.
The Toronto-based company recently unveiled two online videos created by Toronto agency Open that depict women wearing its high-end apparel – sold at upscale retailers like Holt Renfrew in Canada and Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue in the U.S. – in incongruous but quintessentially Canadian situations.
The cinema-style videos, all gauzy light and close-ups, feature women wearing blazers from Smythe’s new collection while (artfully) chopping wood and ripping out fish guts.
Both spots end with the tagline “Make anything spectacular.”
Open partner Martin Beauvais said his agency was trying to attain something akin to “shock value” with the spots. “We wanted something that would grab people’s attention,” he said. “Because these videos are residing online, they needed to have a bit of that.”
The videos, which were produced by Toronto’s Sons & Daughters, were culled from more than seven hours of footage shot in a patch of woods just south of Uxbridge, Ont. “It was a bit of a pain to get it down to 30-odd seconds with so much beautiful footage,” said Beauvais.
The videos also mark the first concerted consumer outreach by Smythe, which has relied heavily on word-of-mouth marketing since its 2004 debut. The brand now counts celebrities such as Blake Lively, Jessica Biel and Heidi Klum among its fans. Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has also been spotted wearing a Smythe blazer during a royal visit to Canada and during the London Olympics.
Beauvais said that the brand appeals to women 30+ with a high household income (jackets range in price from $600-$1,000 he said) and has a devout following.
The videos are intended to reflect the mood of the brand in a new way, said Beauvais, showing “how the brand can live beyond what people normally see,” he said. “They offer a window into the essence of Smythe, which is very strong, very feminine and very Canadian at the same time.”
Despite a judicious approach to new business, Open has been adding a client a month since its debut almost 18 months ago, said Beauvais. “It’s not a very pleasant economy to be in the advertising and design business, but we’ve been blessed,” he said. Open picked up the Smythe assignment earlier this year.