Tag Archives: branding

Wake Up and Smell the Sustainable Coffee: Millennials Demand Cleaner Supply Chains!


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Fifty Shades of Spray: Three Licensing Lessons from the Perfume Range of Zlatan Ibrahimović

With the anterior cruciate ligament injury that he sustained during Manchester United’s ultimately victorious UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg against Belgian heavyweights Anderlecht possessing possibly career-ending properties, now is as good a time as any to consider what post-playing life might begin to look like for Zlatan Ibrahimović (‘Zlatan’, ‘Ibra’). The Swedish icon of Yugoslav descent will indubitably find himself in heavy demand within the world of football; however, whether he takes the familiar paths of management and/or punditry, or forges a yet more interesting second act – perhaps as a Trump-style, Corbyn-substance populist in politics – one thing will remain a constant in Zlatan’s life: licensing.

Ibrahimović has had an interesting collection of commercial partners from relatively early on in his career, but his status is such that in recent years he has transcended the usual celebrity endorsements of shampoos and chocolate bars, instead becoming the focus of a series of Zlatan-flavoured brands, perhaps most notably the Vitamin Well series of sports drinks – a product that he has not shied away from promoting relentlessly.

However, it is Ibrahimović’s latest venture – a line of fragrances concocted in collaboration with Montblanc perfumer Olivier Pescheux – that may turn out to be his most significant foray yet into the broader world of retail, not least because it highlights (and skilfully profits from) a number of societal transformations:

  1. The Reclassification of Football. For the overwhelming majority of its history (one or two key exceptional markets notwithstanding), soccer has been perceived as a largely working-class enterprise. The pitching of Ibrahimović’s perfumes at somewhere north of €50/50ml bottle confirms that the sport has definitively escaped these shackles.
  2. Football’s Feminisation. Ibra’s range of scents is divided neatly into two: the ‘Zlatan’ fragrance for men, and the ‘Supreme’ equivalent for women. The existence of the latter is no accident: football’s transmogrification into a markedly less violent sport from the early 1990s onwards has helped endear it to a new generation of women who are proud to wear a fashion brand co-created by a soccer player.
  3. Global Acceptance. The perfumes’ publicity material directly and prominently refers to Ibrahimović as a ‘world-renowned Swedish football player of Bosnian origin’; in a world where nationalism is gaining in political currency, realities such as this show up the limits of reactionary ideologies. Deepening globalisation is enabled by powerful borderless technologies which cannot be stopped by a wave of the legislative wand; it is essential for both individuals and organisations to contemplate the implications of this fact.

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Nothing Worth Achieving: Heineken Launches ‘Beer of the Future’!

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This Is Not Fare: Conductors Eliminated From London’s Bus Network!

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Eclipsing #London Fashion Week? A New Season Brings a New Digital Header!

As wet turns to wetter in what is still something of a global hub, we at Mediolana’s London HQ thought that it was high time to mark this seasonal switch with a new and glorious social media header. (The uninitiated can see it on our Twitter and Facebook pages, too.) It serves as a neat reminder that while the world may change beyond recognition, some constants remain – including that element of mystery. Let us know your thoughts via the usual channels. Forza!

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Winners Love Winning, A Lot: Zlatan Ibrahimović World Tour Now Rocks London!

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Kocho Yoshida: The Ultimate Symptom of a Global Female Characterisation Crisis?

We at Mediolana take a special interest in how entities from corporations to cities brand themselves, and are usually amongst the first to applaud any imaginative initiatives in this context. However, a tourist promotional flyer for the central Japanese city of Minokamo raises more questions than answers. The poster features one Kocho Yoshida, a character from the anime series No Rin – a comedy set in Minokamo’s entirely non-fictional agricultural high-school – but with one key alteration: extreme breast augmentation. The outcry at the degree of anatomical distortion is such that according to Asialyst, the Yoshida-fronted campaign has been suspended.

In retrospect (and this really should have been apparent before the poster’s promulgation), it is easy to see why this piece of artwork is inapposite, particularly for a general audience. But the Kocho Yoshida scandal serves to highlight what we at Mediolana believe to be a much, much bigger problem: the near-total dearth of compelling female characters in contemporary popular culture.

For much of the twentieth century, women were perceived through primarily aesthetic lenses; however, this did not always preclude strong characterisation. Indeed, the appearance of an arresting female on stage or screen could be the cue for a definitive performance: that sublime combination of physical beauty and technical skill. However, we then moved into an era where technical skill was abjured in favour of a short-term marketing hit: as Jonas Ridderstråle and Kjell Nordström noted in their 1999 classic Funky Business: Talent Makes Capital Dance, one cannot explain the success of the Spice Girls phenomenon with reference to its music.

More recently, some have claimed that we have entered a post-Velina age, where women are once again being valued for something other than their material properties; however, after some contemplation we remain unconvinced of advancement, and not merely because of the profusion of Ridderstråle and Nordström’s big-breasted, anorexic electronic warriors (despite her dimensions, Ms Yoshida probably does not quite fit this description).

Our somewhat uncomfortable observation is that a largely two-dimensional template for female characters is being supplanted by a new model that – although embellished with far-fetched detail – is even more shallow than its predecessor. Commissioners and creatives alike are mistaking dysfunctionality for depth. This is no peripheral issue: by consistently introducing female characters who are complex but not ultimately likeable, they are effectively doing three things: (a) killing the longevity of their creations (cf. the ephemera of Desperate Housewives, Sex in the City et al); (b) discrediting the idea of prominent female roles; and (c) pushing the media as a whole back towards an anatomy-based model, only this time without any other redeeming features. Ms Yoshida may be the perfect symbol of this epoch.

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