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Hermès links holiday to travel with Departures mobile effort

French leather goods maker Hermès is targeting the affluent readers of Departures’ mobile-optimized Web site with a holiday advertisement.

Hermès ad features the maison’s take on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and will likely spur interest among last minute shoppers who turned to Departures for inspiration. Also, with many affluent Departures readers likely to be traveling this holiday, Rudolph’s Christmas Eve flight around the world is fitting.

“Ad themes should match landing page themes,” said Shuli Lowy, marketing director at Ping Mobile, Los Angeles.

“The Hermès ads featured on Departures display beautiful imagery—capturing the holiday spirit in slick images and GIFs,” she said. “That holiday theme is nowhere to be found in the landing page.

“A simple frame or inclusion of the Rudolph video featuring the Hermès equestrian scarfs would have carried the spirit through the experience.”

Ms. Lowy is not affiliated with Hermès, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Hermès did not respond by press deadline.

Up on the roof top
Hermès’ mobile effort on Departures was placed in four different sections of the magazine’s home page. The first is a banner ad seen underneath the magazine’s menu bar and is also repeated at the page’s foot.

The banner shows the brand’s orange insignia to the left and a winter scene in the remainder of the ad. The scene shows the bottom of a decorated Christmas tree, a sleigh overflowing with orange gift boxes and a group of reindeer standing nearby.

Hermès’ additional ads, found in the sidebar section, continue this motif by looking closer at the scene. In the larger of the sidebar ads, Hermès logo is shown with text that reads, “A little holiday magic” while the reindeer stands among orange gift boxes with a white belt hanging from its antlers. ad banner

In the larger sidebar ad the reader likely realizes that the reindeer is actually a horse. In a separate social video, Hermès retold the traditional narrative of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as being a horse that gains antlers and a red ornament for a nose, while the brand’s red scarf provides the magic to fly (see story).

The second sidebar effort shows a slightly different scene with the Rudolph horse standing to the side of a sleigh filled with Hermès packages. Neither the sidebar or banner ads click-through to the aforementioned holiday social video.

Instead, all four ads land on Hermès’ homepage where consumers can browse product categories such as home goods and equestrian items as well as apparel and accessories for men and women.


When accessed on a smartphone, browsing for last minute gifts is simple with the consumer only having to swipe and tap when something is of interest. On tablet, the site is not optimized for mobile and must be pinched to expand and lacks the same degree of usability.

Across devices
Research by Forrester suggests that tablets will be the bigger ecommerce driver going forward, with smartphones stalling out at around an 11 percent share in 2016 (see story), but many brands in the luxury space have been slow to ensure streamlined experiences on both devices.

In numerous cases, a mobile ad lands on a Web site, on either a smartphone or tablet, that has not been properly optimized, making for a disjointed and often annoying experience for consumers with unlikely conversion rates.

“The Hermès mobile Web site is well structured, fully capitalizing on horizontal browsing to glide through categories,” Ms. Lowy said. “The tablet landing page is not optimized and is therefore half blank.

“This is valuable digital space that is wasted. Consumers are confronted with promotions everywhere they turn during the holiday season,” she said. “Brands need to capitalize on every inch of space available to enchant consumers. The blank space could have been used to feature the Hermès Rudolph video, include a section devoted to holiday gifts, or any other promotion that would have brought the holiday magic to life.

“When creating an ad campaign it is imperative to test out the ad flow on every single device on which it will run—not just the types of devices (mobile, tablet, desktop) but on different models within each category,” she said.

“The Departure Web site is not optimized for mobile or tablet. As a result the Hermès ads, which are designed to be featured at the size of a large chocolate bar, are instead featured at the size of half a pinky. This makes the ads viewed on a mobile nearly illegible.

“Luxury retailers should test out the mobile experience of the publishers they intend to run with. If a publisher’s site isn’t mobile-optimized they should pressure the publisher to make the site mobile-optimized prior to a campaign launch.”

Final Take
Jen King, lead reporter on Luxury Daily, New York