Paris, fondly referred to as the City of Lights and renowned for its rich cultural heritage spanning centuries of art, architecture, beauty, cuisine, fashion, and literature is in full prep mode to host the 2024 Summer Olympics — Paris 2024. No surprise that Paris-based leading luxury conglomerate LVMH has taken a leading corporate role as both sponsor and artisan collaborator, and stands ready to benefit from the entire spectrum of the Olympic games and ceremonies.
As luxury faces challenges in 2024 due to economic headwinds, the Olympics provide an opportune backdrop for LVMH to align its brands with the pinnacle of athleticism and global exposure. The net is to ensure increased mind share, potentially translating into market share. By contributing its creativity, craftsmanship, and financial support, LVMH not only strengthens its position in the luxury market but also reinforces its commitment to culture and the celebration of human achievements on a global stage.
Is Paris the star of the Olympics or the athletes? From July 26 to August 11, Paris and its surrounding environs will welcome an estimated 15.3 million visitors, including approximately 1.9 million international visitors for two weeks of 329 events across 32 sports, with a goal of combining sport and culture, innovation, and artistic expression for the Olympics. A first, the July 26 Opening Ceremony will be staged along the Seine in Paris, not in a sports stadium. The event will be broadcast via 80 giant screens to an estimated one billion viewers accompanied by live audio designed to share an immersive experience of this extraordinary spectacle.
Paris is not only the location for the Olympic Games, it is being woven intrinsically into the events. In sharp contrast to recent host cities, Paris is minimizing construction to accommodate the Summer Olympics. Rather, 90 percent of the locations for the Olympic Games already exist. The city is preparing its iconic venues by using existing historic spaces, demonstrating sustainability in action by restoring, preserving and where necessary, upgrading to existing code.
In bidding for Paris as host of the Summer Olympics, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo promised a drastic environmental upgrade to the city including cleaning the Seine so it could be the venue for swimming competitions as it was over a century ago in the 1924 and 1900 Olympics. Alas, this is not to be.
LVMH Invests in a Shared Vision
Sport has long been associated with the lifestyle of the luxury consumer and this has accelerated in the past 20 years as luxury brands sought to attract a younger cohort. LVMH is one of seven premium partners, further solidifying its Maisons with sport and culture in its tour de force sponsorship of the 2024 Paris Olympics and Paralympics. Announced a year in advance, LVMH emphasized collaboration with the event organizers, expressing a shared desire to redefine the established norms and make the games an unforgettable experience. LVMH pledged a substantial €150 million ($164 million) investment, positioning its companies as key contributors to the event.
Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH announced, “This unprecedented partnership with the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games will contribute to heightening the appeal of France around the world. It was only natural that LVMH and its Maisons be part of this exceptional international event. Sports are a tremendous source of inspiration for our Maisons, which will unite creative excellence and athletic performance by contributing their savoir-faire and bold innovation to this extraordinary celebration.”
LVMH is quintessential Paris; for the conglomerate not to be involved would be the outlier, both in the spirit of nationalism as well as the owner of France’s top luxury and fashion brands. As one of the top three wealthiest individuals in the world (and the wealthiest Frenchman), Arnault has an unspoken social obligation to support an event that celebrates France on the global stage while supporting artistic and athletic excellence that can be used to display LVMH’s brands.
In doing so, LVMH positions itself to benefit in terms of enhancing its global stature, incorporating more sports and lifestyle elements in the positioning of its luxury brands. It will capture mindshare via marketing and brand exposure and heightened visibility during the Olympics that will endure beyond the event. In what is likely to be a weak year for the luxury market, Arnault is using the Summer Olympics to underscore the relevancy of his brand portfolio; there is a sound business reason for this support, he is playing offense while many in the luxury industry are preoccupied with survival.
Crafting Maisons Moments
Sports connect people and bridge cultural, income, and national gaps. LVMH’s involvement in the Olympics allows the brand to extend its reach beyond beauty, fashion, and luxury. By aligning itself with the Olympics, LVMH by association is best in class. LVMH is showcasing its commitment to meritocracy, excellence, and inclusivity. From dressing the French team to serving LVMH spirits at parties, LVMH is leaving no stone unturned in making its presence felt.
LVMH’s influence is extensive. Chaumet, a Parisian jeweler under the LVMH umbrella, will design the Olympic medals. Moët Hennessy will supply wines for hospitality suites. LVMH beauty retailer Sephora is set to be a partner during the Olympic torch relay. Maison Berluti, a 120-year-old luxury brand known for its high patina footwear, will dress the French team for the Opening Ceremony.
LVMH created Ambassador and Artisan of Victories titles, recognizing four athletes to date. This initiative aligns with LVMH’s mission of “The Art of Crafting Dreams,” symbolizing the conglomerate’s commitment to both artistic and athletic achievements. LVMH has agreements in place with a growing list of French athletes competing in the Olympics including Ambassadors gymnast Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos who will represent Maison Christian Dior, Léon Marchand, and Enzo Lefort who will represent Louis Vuitton, and Pauline Déroulède will represent Dior as Ambassador for the Paralympic Games Paris 2024.
Paris is also home to dozens of LVMH flagship and neighborhood stores which will be the backdrop of millions and millions of screenshots and social media shares, along with streamed and televised content that will reverberate around the world establishing brand awareness for some and increasing it for others.
Commercially, aligning luxury brands with sports culture and sports figures attracts a broad swathe of consumers, broader than the reach of pure fashion. Coveted front-row seats at fashion shows are saved for athlete influencers/celebrities as well as fashion influencers. In the past 30 years lifestyles and dressing have become more casual and in the past 15 years luxury brands have increasingly courted a younger demographic. Hoodies, sweats, sneakers, and street wear have democratized luxury. A new emerging luxury shopper is evolving; younger, casual, perhaps not rich yet but interested in spending on brands that express their values. The Olympics will position LVMH with high-performance excellence and meritocracy.
In sum, as luxury faces challenges in 2024 due to economic headwinds, the Olympics provide an opportune backdrop for LVMH to align its brands with the pinnacle of athleticism. Global exposure ensures increased mind share, potentially translating into market share. By contributing its creativity, craftsmanship, and financial support, LVMH not only strengthens its position in the luxury market but also reinforces its commitment to culture and the celebration of human achievements on a global stage.