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The Art of: A Collaboration Between ESSEC and the Asian Civilisations Museum

What do museums have to do with luxury branding? The ESSEC Master of Science in Marketing Management and Digital (MMD) students put their skills to the test and promote Asian Civilisations Museum’s (ACM) current exhibition, Life in Edo x Russel Wong in Kyoto.

While museums stand as paradigms of culture and gatekeepers to a world of knowledge, luxury brands — far better known for their opulence — may seem a world away. Yet, the two are far more similar than one might think, says Sonja Prokopec, LVMH Chaired Professor, and ESSEC Associate Academic Director, Center of Excellence in Luxury, Art & Culture — Asia Pacific.

For one thing, appreciation of a luxury item, like a piece of art, requires a level of cultural understanding. Both are exclusive, high in value, but struggle with a disconnect from society. 

“Museums today are facing what luxury brands were dealing with a while back. They are interesting to a knowledgeable audience but find it a challenge to be more accessible and to reach more people,” Prokopec observes.  

With this in mind, she reached out to ACM, Singapore’s national museum of Asian antiquities and decorative art, to collaborate on a digital marketing competition for her Luxury Brand Management MMD students. 

A PICTURE-PERFECT PARTNERSHIP

For ACM, the connection couldn’t be more perfect, as its collections are “all about aesthetic and craft excellence and celebrating the fact that in Asia there’s a millennium of sophistication and excellence,” Kennie Ting, Director of ACM, shares. 

Working with ESSEC also brought two main advantages: firstly, the diversity of the MMD cohort is aligned with ACM’s international outlook, and second, access to the perspectives of the younger generation. 

Ting adds that the business school’s insights are especially valuable for ACM’s exhibition, Life in Edo x Russel Wong in Kyoto. 

The showcase juxtaposes traditional Edo period Japanese woodblock prints with contemporary photographs of Kyoto by renowned Singaporean fashion photographer Russel Wong. 

The theme is geared towards younger, more design-focused, and lifestyle-oriented audiences — making the ESSEC MMD students a perfect fit.

The question was: How would the students position and promote the exhibition?

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED

The MMD cohort had just two months to design a strategy to reach new audiences interested in the luxury, lifestyle, fashion, and design field to drive online visitor numbers to the physical museum. 

They also had the challenge of cementing ACM’s reputation as the go-to museum for the luxury, lifestyle, and fashion scene. 

Prokopec, who coached the MMD students through this process, shares that judges were looking out for the rigor of their methodology and the creativity of their strategy. 

Ten teams were whittled down to four before ACM decided on a winning team based on their proposed strategies. 

Having led nearly a hundred collaborations with partners over the years, Prokopec notes: “I've never had a project where our students didn't bring something of value to the brand or the partner.” 

Did the students deliver? Go behind the scenes to find out about their process and which team eventually emerged victorious.

 

Read the three-part coverage of ESSEC Asia-Pacific’s collaboration with the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Life in Edo x Russel Wong in Kyoto is exhibited at the Asian Civilisations Museum and runs till 19 September 2021.


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