Select NY celebrates 25 years as a creative, iconoclastic agency
Neither a major agency guru nor a solitary creative character, Olivier Van Doorne, both in a real and figurative sense, embodies the agency he leads, Select NY, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2016. Van Doorne wasn't the ad agency's founder but he is now a shareholder alongside Select NY's German founder, Herwig Preis. On its website, Select NY appropriately defines itself as 'the small, worldwide agency.'
It was actually in 1996 that Olivier Van Doorne joined what was to become Select NY, after starting out his professional life as concept facilitator with a 'major' agency. He worked for Publicis, chiefly on the Dim account, and crucially it was professional love at first sight, clearly reciprocal, between him and Isabella Rossellini, Lancôme's brand ambassador. Olivier Van Doorne himself was Lancôme's Creative Director from 1991. It was actually Isabella Rossellini who had a hand in his recruitment by Herwig Preis.
Select NY currently operates nine offices worldwide, its activities being geographically divided in three regions: Asia, Europe and the USA. Among the agency's clients are Swarovski, Nine West, Balenciaga, Napapijri, Boghossian, Wella, etc.
The Beauty sector, very important for Select NY, is split up into haircare (40%), fragrance (20%) and skincare (30%). "We experienced a strong growth in skincare, to the detriment of fragrances, which was a dominant segment initially," underlined Olivier Van Doorne.
According to Select NY's President, "perfume these days is an overused ambition, owing to the huge numbers of launches. With its bloated product offering, fragrance has been killed off by marketing,” he said, insisting on the significance of skincare these days.
"Skincare embodies hope. It's something that can be felt in advertising communications. Leading high-end brands nowadays put an emphasis on lifestyle to be convincing with their products. Whatever technology there is, it's not on display."
If there is something that Olivier Van Doorne the iconoclast would wish to see gone, it's the dry (too dry perhaps) side of marketing. According to Select NY's President, what counts is storytelling, an imaginary world that can generate dreams: 'Magic with Logic.' It is also a way of bringing together products, communications, merchandising and retail, when available. And, still according to Select NY's President, this feeds everything, down to the digital world.
Olivier Van Doorne thinks that being French helps to make a difference in this respect, by having a rather sharp critical mindset. At Select NY, about 45 of the agency's 80 employees in New York (out of 300 altogether), come from the French side of the Atlantic.
Olivier Van Doorne also remarks on how social media is a way of building a brand's reputation, more than any ambassador.
"The brand ambassador phenomenon has become so stereotyped that it's difficult to find a real brand icon," said Van Doorne. For someone who was a friend of Isabella Rossellini, such statements are a way of highlighting the difference which has at any rate ensured Select NY's success in the last 25 years.
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