Image is everything- marketing and the awards season

With the last month defined by award ceremonies- from the Brits to the Oscars- the subject of style has been on everyone’s mind. Get it right and a great look can make your reputation, misjudge things and the results can be costly.
Let’s not forget Julia Roberts, whose decision not to bother shaving under the arms made her something of a showpiece for how not to hit the red carpet back in 1999, at the London premiere of Notting Hill. Fans and paparazzi looked on in shock as hair was revealed in a place stereotypically redundant of follicles for females, and for many people the star would never seem as glamorous again.
Ironically it was at the very same movie opening that Liz Hurley wore the famous Versace safety pin dress that subsequently bagged her ‘greatest red carpet gown of all time’. As The Telegraph put it, the ensemble was “widely credited for boosting her profile???. Two choices, with two hugely different outcomes; examples so pronounced it’s remarkable those in the spotlight still make such catastrophic mistakes.
Of course appearances aren’t the only aspect of image. As a former boyfriend of Hurley’s, Hugh Grant, learned to his peril after being caught, pants down, with a prostitute. Despite his presentation this behaviour saw his reputation plummet from befuddled English sweetheart to something of a sexual deviant, and earned him international notoriety, proving that if you’re going to partake in such pastimes it’s probably better not to do it in Hollywood.
The point is that whatever we want to project about ourselves must be backed up in practice 360-degrees. And when it comes to business understanding this concept is even more important, as it often means the difference between success and failure, or in the most extreme cases, the ability to take potential failure and turn it into something profitable.
Just look at the recent multi-award winner The Artist. Now ask yourself not how a silent film managed to scoop so many trophies, but how it managed to achieve such impressive box office figures in a cinematic age typified by spoon-feeding.
The film’s festival success brought it to the attention of The Weinstein Company; one of America’s biggest independent film firms. With the involvement of this major player the movie was catapulted to mainstream success, again proving the power and worth of key influencers in any business sector.
The projected image here (not least thanks to the ‘audience response trailer’) is of a jaunty, unique, but universally enjoyable release. So consider each part of your business as a new box office hopeful, or a red carpet event. It’s something we PRs have been doing since the words public and relations were first put together, even when it’s not an award ceremony.
And as for the prize-giving evenings themselves, to confess a not so well kept secret- these events are as much about networking and the perception of your company as award-winning, as they are about the actual accolades involved, nice though they are. In summary then, clean up, and look good in everything you do, because first impressions still count for everything and your customer’s perception is reality.