Authored by: Indusekhar Chandrasekhar (INDU)
Last Thursday, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) was bought for $450 million (£342 million) in New York on Wednesday evening, shattering the record for the most expensive artwork ever sold. Ok… that was expected! For many of us outside the Mil nomenclature – 4 or 400 Mil hardly matters – it didn’t quite matter to me!
But, what caught my attention was the fact that Christie’s with a da Vinci actually spent time and money branding and marketing the “last da Vinci” with a “new Di Caprio”.
Rewind the days when people used to ask me “what branding Infosys needed?” – when I proudly declared that I work for the bellwether and even recently “what branding IBM needed”? – when my card explicitly read so. And, into my navigation to the world of PE/VC, many a battle to impress on the idea that branding was not discretionary – it was indispensable!
As someone who resolutely believed that: “No brand ain’t too great to be invested in – nor any branding effort, done right, too trivial to yield results”… Amid the sweeping wayside conclusions that ATL is a cash-burn and Social is a conspiracy led by the Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter combine (FGLT anyone!), spawned by a generation qualified in shallow scholarships – of the new breeed of Marketers for whom Metrics is God, and missing the Magic in Marketing eliminating every possibility of genius (that Einstein so rightly defined as “intelligence having fun”), “Brand Marketing” seems to have so sadly lost its syntax.
But, I am also very aware of the prodigal start-ups who blew up their investments in profligate spends in reckless brand activities – almost like “having a party with someone else’s money”. A recency effect that has created a strong sense of wariness in a world that was always sceptical of brand spends – making it a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
While I read the narrative of the brand effort behind this auction to be validating of my claim, I’m very aware that there will be a skewed narrative, a dimmer alternative to the perspective on the value of brand marketing – as those spectacular sceptics would say: “At 450 Mil for an ancient scribble – the ROI on Brand Marketing is an affordable excess”! Touché!
For a view on what played out: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/16/leonardo-da-vincis-salvator-mundi-sells-450-million-342-million/
All scepticism apart – the fact that there indeed was a brand marketing effort towards this auction is eminent validation and proof that there’s a space for good work. The choice is for us to leave this space empty or to fill it with grace – with smart brand ideation that can elevate the agenda. Indeed “a great brand is a story that is never completely told” (Scott Bedbury) – but we need more listeners!
Delighted to debut!
Mr. Indusekhar Chandrasekhar (INDU) is a Brand Marketing Expert with over two decades across industries including Technology, Media and Entertainment, VC/PE and Start-ups.