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The Oscars red carpet as a high-stakes business arena

In the glitzy world of the Oscars red carpet, where luxury labels take centre stage, the focus has shifted from mere fashion statements to a complex web of dealmaking. How did the red carpet become an intricate interplay of fashion, business, and entertainment? Let’s delve into the changing dynamics of celebrity endorsements, and the impact on indie fashion brands.

The European luxury conglomerates

What began as a subtle accentuation of jewellery and designer labels has burgeoned into a strategic battleground for European luxury conglomerates. The red carpet has evolved into a global stage where opulent names like Gucci, Versace, and Armani assert their dominance. This subtle fusion of film and fashion signifies a paradigm shift, painting a vivid tableau that transcends the confines of the red carpet. The intersection of these realms reflects not only the changing face of Hollywood but also the evolving identity of luxury in the global cultural landscape. Agents and PR agencies are at the forefront, facilitating partnerships and turning the red carpet into a veritable runway for these luxury labels. As Hollywood embraces this shift, the Oscars red carpet is now as much about showcasing brands as it is about celebrating cinematic excellence

Zendaya in Armani Privé and Bulgari
Margot Robbie in Versace
Margot Robbie in Versace
Ryan Gosling in custom Gucci
Ryan Gosling in custom Gucci
Carey Mulligan particularly shined in custom Balenciaga
Carey Mulligan particularly shined in custom Balenciaga
The business of celebrity endorsements

In an era where celebrity influence holds unparalleled sway, the red carpet has transformed into a stage where negotiations between stars and luxury brands take centre stage. Beyond a mere exhibition of artistic expression, these interactions have evolved into a high-stakes affair. Multi-year contracts worth seven figures have become the norm, with stars expected to don specific labels at the Oscars. The challenge lies in convincing the rest of the celebrities to embrace the traditional practice of borrowing outfits, as the allure of paid contracts becomes increasingly irresistible; and making it difficult to balance between commercial interests and maintaining the authenticity of Hollywood’s most prestigious night.

For example, Anya Taylor-Joy, who graced the red carpet in Dior, has been the global brand ambassador for the esteemed French fashion house since 2022, representing its key sectors of fashion and makeup. Similarly, Kim Kardashian, spotted in Balenciaga at the Vanity Fair Oscar After Party, was appointed as the brand’s ambassador this year. These high-profile appearances were likely stipulated in their respective ambassadorship agreements.

Ana Taylor Joy in Dior Haute Couture
Kim Kardashian in Balenciaga
The impact on Indie fashion brands

The red carpet, which should be a bastion of creativity and individuality, now reflects the overpowering influence of conglomerates. Indie fashion brands, once celebrated for their innovation, struggle for visibility amidst the sea of established names. Actresses like Jessie Buckley, who showcased indie designs during previous seasons, stand as rare exceptions in a landscape dominated by the giants of the fashion world. According to Christina Binkley’s research for Vogue Business, the actress wore the only two gowns on the red carpet originating from an indie designer without a big company backing them (Erdem Label in 2022 and Rodarte in 2023). For the designers of these emerging brands, and PR agencies representing them, the challenge lies in carving out a space in an industry increasingly driven by established powerhouses.

Jessie Bucley wearing Erdem for the Oscars in 2022
Jessie Bucley wearing Erdem for the Oscars 2022
Jessie Buckley wearing Rodarte for the Oscars in 2023
Jessie Buckley wearing Rodarte for the Oscars 2023
Viewership decline and diversification

The transformation of the red carpet into a stage for high-stakes business has not been without consequences. The Oscars, once a cultural touchstone, now confront the sobering reality of declining viewership. Reaching more than 43 million viewers back in 2014, the ratings show only 19,5 million viewers tuned in this year.  The spectacle, once rivalled only by events like the Super Bowl, grapples with striking a delicate balance between commercial interests and cultural significance. The challenge is not merely to rekindle public interest but to ensure that the Oscars retain their status as an enduring celebration. Balancing the showcase of fashion and film with the evolving expectations of a global audience is paramount in navigating the intricate tapestry of the red carpet’s future.

Exposure is still a major key for commercialization and this only shows the importance for brands in diversifying the events they partake in – the Super Bowl, for instance, is the perfect example of immense impact for brands as explained in our last article depicting the power of exposure in communication strategies

As the Oscars red carpet transforms into a high-stakes business arena, PR and Talent Management are at the heart of this evolution. Navigating the delicate dance between luxury conglomerates, celebrity endorsements, and the struggle for indie fashion visibility, these actors play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the red carpet. The challenge ahead is not merely to showcase fashion but to curate an experience that captivates audiences while embracing the evolving dynamics of the entertainment industry. If you want your brand to shine during major events and gain visibility, give us a call. 📞

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